Holidays are a prime season for out-of-town visitors, and, often, household plumbing emergencies, including backed up drains and clogged pipes. 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 the folks at Roto-Rooter tell us that on the day after Christmas alone, emergency calls to their business can jump up to anywhere between 20% and 40% over a normal day. But by taking a few precautions, homeowners can avoid clogged pipes, stop-ups and visits from their local plumber. Remember these pointers when you’re busy at home for the holidays.
In the kitchen:
- Avoid pouring fats or cooking oils down the drain, as they solidify in pipes and cause clogs. Instead, wipe grease from pots and pans with paper towels, and deposit them in the trash.
- Stringy, fibrous waste in your garbage disposer (pumpkin pulp, poultry skins, celery, fruit and potato peels) can cause big plumbing problems, 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 — don’t wait 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:
- Plan ahead. Avoid plumbing emergencies by 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 plumbing drain pipes are running slowly, treat 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. You’ll get faster attention, avoid holiday service charges and solve your holiday plumbing emergency.