With so much activity in your home during the holiday season, residential plumbing problems are more likely to occur. Your home’s plumbing system will receive more activity with friends and family being in your home. When you’re sitting down to enjoy that holiday feast, the last thing you want to think about is a clogged drain, leaking pipe, or broken garbage disposal.
As the holiday months approach, it’s important to take precautions to prevent any potential plumbing troubles from occurring. Handling a plumbing emergency when guests stay at your home isn’t ideal and only adds stress to your busy holiday. Instead, consider these tips to prevent any plumbing mishaps from happening in your home.
Why Do Plumbing Problems Occur During the Holidays?
Residential plumbing problems can occur year-round, but a busy holiday season can put more strain on your home’s plumbing system. Your toilets will be flushed more often, sinks and showers will run more frequently and longer, and foreign objects may unintentionally end up down the drain.
If you haven’t been maintaining your plumbing system or your home has older pipes, problems with toilets or sinks may arise from overuse. Your home’s plumbing may also experience additional stress due to the colder weather. Freezing temperatures can cause pipes or waterlines to freeze and burst, leading to leaks and potential water damage.
Preventing Holiday Plumbing Problems
Fortunately, even with the extra strain on your plumbing system, there are ways to prepare your home for the upcoming holiday season. Here are some key practices to follow before the turkey goes in the oven and your guests arrive.
1. Watch Your Sink Drains
Holidays usually mean a lot of time spent in the kitchen. Between cooking and hosting guests, you’ll be using your kitchen sink a lot. Whenever you’re cooking, it’s important to be aware of what you’re putting down the sink drain. Not only can certain substances cause a foul smell to seep into your kitchen, but they can also lead to clogged drains.
Never pour fats, oils, or grease down the sink. These substances will harden when they cool and can create a blockage in the drainpipe, leading to clogs and overflowing sinks. Instead, keep leftover grease in a jar or container and dispose in the trash later.
Potato peels are another common item that tends to end up down the kitchen drain. Starches like potatoes will act as glue if they are in your plumbing lines, sticking inside of pipes instead of draining out properly.
You should also avoid putting harder substances down the drain that your garbage disposal can’t break down. This may include vegetable peels, bones, eggs shells, rice, coffee, pasta, and more. Garbage disposal blades have difficulty breaking down these items, causing the disposal to stick and the motor to burn out.
2. Take Care of Your Toilets
With more people in your home, your toilets will be flushed more often. The only items that should be flushed down the toilet are toilet paper and human waste. Other products are not made to flush down the toilet because they won’t dissolve or break down.
Remind your guests to avoid flushing feminine hygiene products, sanitary napkins, baby wipes, paper towels, wrappers, cotton balls, and other paper products. If these items are flushed down the toilet, your toilet is more likely to clog and overflow.
Your overnight guests may not know what they should and shouldn’t flush. Consider using a sign in the bathroom to remind them what they shouldn’t put down the toilet to avoid an extensive clog from occurring.
3. Prevent Pipes from Bursting
When temperatures dip below 32 degrees, the pipes in your home are more susceptible to freezing and breaking, especially if they are already loose and damaged. The liquid in plumbing pipes or water lines will freeze and expand, bursting the pipe and potentially leading to extensive water leaks.
To avoid an expensive pipe repair, make sure any exposed pipes in a crawl space, basement, storage area, or attic are wrapped and well-insulated. Keep your furnace running if you’re planning on traveling to ensure your house is heated properly.
You can also leave water trickling slowly from all faucets in your home and open cabinet doors underneath sinks to allow warm air to circulate. Even if you are staying home for the holidays, this is an effective method for preventing burst pipes.
4. Avoid Putting Pressure on Your Water Heater
Your water heater will feel the extra strain this holiday season if you have a lot of overnight guests who are showering back-to-back. Your water heater may overwork, and even fail if it’s an older model, to keep up with hot water demands.
To avoid cold showers and unhappy guests, encourage your family and friends to wait at least 10 to 20 minutes between each shower. Avoid running other appliances in your home that use warm water while your guests are showering, such as the dishwasher or washing machines. You can also check your water heater settings to make sure it is set to accommodate the number of people in your home.
If your water heater fails and stops working completely, check the circuit breaker. Power surges can cause your water heater to trip the breaker. If you’ve experienced any surges or outages from brutal winter weather, check the breaker box first.
Eventually, water heaters must be replaced. If your water heater is more than ten years old, it might be time for a replacement. It’s best to have your water heater replaced before the holiday season begins to avoid any plumbing mishaps.
5. Prepare Your Home’s Plumbing with a Professional Inspection
Before your guests arrive, prepare your home with a professional plumbing inspection from trusted technicians. Identify and repair issues in your plumbing before the festivities begin, such as slow drains, toilets that keep running, or leaky faucets.
The plumbing experts at Cates Heating and Cooling can provide a full plumbing inspection and check your pipes for any loose seals, cracks, or other damage. Even if there are no apparent problems with your home’s plumbing system, you should call your plumber before hosting any overnight guests to avoid plumbing problems this holiday season.
If you need your plumbing system checked or you’re dealing with a plumbing emergency, Cates Heating and Cooling is here for you. We even offer financing options, so you can fix plumbing problems now and worry about the expense later. Contact us today at 913-888-4470 for Kansas residents and 816-944-1844 for Missouri residents.