During the holiday season, people often celebrate by spending time with family and friends—and for many of us, that means having guests over, either for a party or as houseguests. Unfortunately for some, this also means extra wear-and-tear on the plumbing. For older homes, the combination of aging pipes and colder weather increases the risk of damage even more. The last thing you want to cap off your holidays is the nightmare of embarrassment from clogged toilets, sewer backups, broken pipes and the like—not to mention the added cost of fixing these problems. So let’s look at some common-sense preventative things you can do to keep plumbing issues from ruining your holidays.
Have Your Plumbing Inspected
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes. One great way to sidestep holiday plumbing problems is to schedule a pre-holiday once-over with a plumbing professional. Have the plumber check fixtures, inspect the water heater and check for signs of leaks. If you’re more of a DIY person, you may be able to address some things yourself. (For example, tighten up “jiggly” toilet handles or “tricky” faucets before your guests start using them.) Being proactive may help you pinpoint and solve small problems before the extra holiday usage turns them into big ones.
Keep Trash Receptacles Near Toilets
Clogged toilets are among the most common holiday issues—not just because of additional use but because some guests don’t know they shouldn’t flush wipes, feminine products, cotton balls, etc. down toilets. To reduce the temptation, keep a small trash can by each toilet so it’s more convenient to throw these items away rather than flush them. BONUS TIP: Keep a plunger by every toilet so a guest can discreetly use it if necessary.
Safeguard Your Garbage Disposal
Another “danger zone” at the holidays is the garbage disposal. Guests often like to be “helpful” in the kitchen, and you might have clean-up volunteers who don’t know they shouldn’t pour grease or shove potato peels, chicken bones, etc., down the disposal. If you’re not comfortable instructing your guests about it, keep a household member in charge of the sink area. BONUS TIP: To deal with the extra food waste, be sure to run plenty of cold water when running your disposal since this helps it go down better. Also, keep running the cold water for at least 30 seconds after shutting off the disposal to clear out the pipes.
Of course, not every plumbing issue can be averted, especially during the holidays—but thinking proactively with the above tips can greatly reduce the risk of costly repairs. Happy Holidays!