Plumbing problems often arrive with the holiday season's parade of parties, lavish family meals and out-of-town visitors. Busy kitchens mean more grease and food waste to drag down the kitchen drain and disposer, and house guests equal extra showers, baths and toilet flushes that can strain systems that are already partially clogged.
This makes for a busy season for plumbing pros, and on the day after Christmas alone, they can see their business can jump up to anywhere between 20% and 40% over a normal day. People get so caught up in the holiday madness that it's no wonder they don't think about the stress put on their pipes and the plumbing problems that can occur. But by taking a few precautions, homeowners can prevent stop-ups and visits from their local plumber.
:In the kitchen:
- Avoid pouring fats or cooking oils down the drain, as they solidify in pipes and cause clogs. Instead, prevent plumbing problems by wiping grease from pots and pans with paper towels, and depositing the paper towels in the trash.
- Never place stringy, fibrous waste into your garbage disposer (poultry skins, celery, pumpkin pulp, fruit and potato peels), as it can't sufficiently grind these items and they'll end up clogging your drain.
- Run cold water for 15 seconds before and after using the disposer to flush waste down the main sewer line.
- Make sure the disposer is running when you put food debris into it instead of waiting until it's full before turning it on.
- Run the dishwasher and washing machine at night or at off times during the day to conserve water temperature and pressure for your guests.
In the bathroom:
- Prevent plumbing problems by planning ahead and spreading showers throughout the day, and waiting 10 minutes between showers so that slow drains have time to do their job and your water heater has a chance to recover.
- Turn up your water heater to increase its capacity to meet holiday house guest demand; to avoid scalding, don't exceed 125 degrees.
- Provide a trash bin so that the toilet isn't used as a garbage can.
- Never flush cotton balls or swabs, hair, facial scrub pads or similar items down the toilet, as they don't dissolve and are responsible for most clogs.
Finally, if you notice your drains are running slowly, prevent plumbing problems by treating them with retail drain cleaning products long before company arrives. If that doesn't do the trick and you find you need a plumber, be sure to call well before visits and parties are in full swing to get faster attention and avoid holiday service charges.