Nobody likes a holiday surprise they weren’t expecting – especially not one that involves plumbing failure. You don’t have to worry, though! Follow these tips to help prevent embarrassing plumbing problems and make sure your holidays stay merry and bright:
Don’t Pour Grease Down the Drain
When it comes to keeping your plumbing system working properly during the holiday season, one of the most important tips to keep in mind is to never pour grease down the drain. Grease may seem harmless enough when it’s still in liquid form, but as it cools it hardens, forming a thick and sticky mass that traps particles and prevents things from flowing down the drain freely. This can result in slow drains and potential clogs that need costly professional attention to be cleared.
Though you may think you can get away with pouring some grease down your drain every so often, doing so is a surefire way to cause problems for yourself and your pipes. To make sure this doesn’t happen, be sure to collect used cooking grease in an old can or container and dispose of it by throwing it away with your other trash—or better yet, recycling it if possible. Or you could find creative ways with which to use old cooking grease such as creating homemade lip balm or making a bird feeder out of used cooking oil! Either way, just don’t forget not to pour any type of fat or food product down the sink!
Be Careful With Holiday Cooking
Holiday cooking can be fun and delicious, but it can also lead to some serious plumbing problems. To make sure that you don’t end up with a nasty clog or overflowing toilet during your holiday celebrations, be mindful of what you put down the drain and how much grease and fat end up in the pipes. Here are a few tips to help you prevent plumbing embarrassments during the holidays:
- Avoid putting food scraps, grease, fat and oil down the drain or garbage disposal. These items can create clogs in your pipes and cause water backups in your sink or toilet.
- Run cold water down the drain for several minutes before you start cooking and while you’re cooking to keep fats from congealing on pipe walls.
- Keep an old coffee can handy to collect fat trimmings and other food scraps so they don’t go down the drain – then once full, just throw it out with your regular garbage.
- Remember to collect all paper towels, dental floss and other debris before flushing it down the toilet – don’t just assume it will safely pass through!
- Don’t flush wipes or other paper products labeled “flushable” – they may contribute to blockages further along in the pipe system so use only those items that are safe for home plumbing systems.
Be Mindful of What Goes Down the Toilet
One of the biggest risks to plumbing during the holiday season is food and other items that can block pipes. Blockages due to foreign objects being flushed down toilets often happen when people are visiting and unfamiliar with your home’s plumbing system. To avoid this issue, ensure your guests are aware of what not to put into your drains or toilets. This includes human waste, washing up liquid, kitchen scraps and facial wipes.
It’s also important to be mindful of the type of toilet paper you choose for your household during the holidays. Toilets should only ever be used for flushing toilet paper – toilet wipes, baby wipes and other paper towels can clog pipes very quickly. If a blockage does occur in any part of your system, you will need to call out a professional plumber who is experienced in clearing blocked sewers and drains as soon as possible.
Don’t Overstuff the Garbage Disposal
Stuffing too much food into a garbage disposal can clog it quickly. To keep it from happening, you should take steps to ensure that your garbage disposal is working properly before the festivities begin. In addition, you can take preventive measures by avoiding the use of hot water when running your disposal and also be sure not to pour any grease, oils or coffee grounds down there.
Be sure to turn off the power to your unit before attempting to clear a clogged sink or drain. For major blockages in pipes and drains beneath bathrooms, kitchen sinks and other fixtures, try sprinkling baking soda with vinegar first and then flushing gently with hot water. A plunger can sometimes break it loose too!
It’s especially important during the holidays to keep an eye on what is going down your drain—no matter how small it might seem. These tiny particles can accumulate along with food particles and eventually cause clogging backups that can leave you dealing with plumbing messes that could have been easily avoided when proper precautions were taken:
- Avoid using hot water when running your disposal.
- Do not pour any grease, oils or coffee grounds down the drain.
- Turn off the power to your unit before attempting to clear a clogged sink or drain.
- Sprinkle baking soda with vinegar and flush gently with hot water.
- Use a plunger to break any major blockages in pipes and drains.
Keep an Eye on Water Usage
The holidays are a time for lots of family, friends and hosting. With more people in the house, there is bound to be an increase in water usage. To help prevent plumbing emergencies or uncomfortable situations, it’s important to watch how much water is being used throughout the holiday.
Unclogging sinks that have been overloaded with food waste is one of the most common plumbing issues. Before you put any type of food waste down the disposal, be sure to consult a garbage disposal guide so you know which types of materials are safe to put down the drain versus what needs to be thrown in the trash.
It’s also a good idea to only run cold water while using your garbage disposal. This helps prevent fat and oil from congealing further down pipes and causing a clog over time. Additionally, you should only fill your sink with enough water needed for washing dishes as too much can overload your sink’s drain capacity and cause it to back up into your kitchen or bathroom sink.
Other useful tips include:
- Refraining from flushing too-large items down toilets such as Q-tips, wipes or other hygiene products shouldn’t go down your toilet as they can cause costly blockages and overflows that require repair professionals.
- During holiday gatherings try to minimize things like running dishwashers or laundry machines at peak times like when several bathrooms may be occupied as this increases stress on plumbing systems if there isn’t enough load capacity available at once.
- By paying close attention during peak times like around dinner or showers taken by house guests, you may be able to prevent problems before they arise; avoiding those awkward and potentially expensive moments that no homeowner wants during their festivities!
Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners
When it comes to dealing with clogs in your sink or shower, resist the urge to reach for chemical drain cleaners. These harsh solutions, often referred to as “drain openers” are full of caustic chemicals that can damage the pipe and only temporarily solve the issue. Not only is this bad for your plumbing, but you risk exposing yourself and other family members to those caustic ingredients.
The best solution is prevention. Regularly clean your drains with a steam cleaning system or physical means such as plunging. If a clog does present itself during the holidays, purchase an auger (or drain snake) at your local hardware store, which consists of a flexible metal cable designed to remove obstructions deep in pipes. Using this tool is helpful if you can’t identify exactly where the clog is located or if it’s too far down in the line for a plunger to be effective.
Should this fail, make sure not to put any additional strain on the pipes and call a professional plumber for help instead of turning back to chemical solutions.
Don’t Pour Coffee Grounds Down the Sink
Coffee grounds can cause significant and permanent buildup within plumbing systems. The grounds are often small enough to pass through the pipes, and over time, they will accumulate and start to form a layer that acts like cement. This is particularly true for homes with older plumbing systems that may be more prone to clogs due to corrosion or mineral build up in the pipes. Additionally, some brewing methods also yield oily residue which can further contribute to pipe blockage.
To help minimize your risk of a clog, scrape coffee grounds into a container of cat litter or compost before disposal instead of running them down the drain.
Don’t Flush Anything but Toilet Paper
When the festivities are in full swing, it’s essential to remind guests to only flush toilet paper down the toilet. The main sewer line should not be used for anything other than waste and toilet paper. Even “flushable” wipes should never be flushed because these wipes can contribute to clogs in pipes.
In addition, other items such as moist wipes, baby wipes, Q-tips and paper towels should also be placed in garbage cans rather than flushed. It is also important to make sure that no one uses the toilet as a trash can and puts any non-flushable items into it—these items need to go into a trash can and disposed of accordingly.
Know the Location of Your Main Shutoff Valve
One of the biggest holiday plumbing embarrassments is when an overflow causes a water issue in your home. Knowing where the main water shutoff valve to your home is located can help prevent this embarrassing situation.
The location of this valve may differ depending on your geographic location, but typically it will be found near where the water line enters your home, either in the basement or crawlspace. Turning off the main shutoff valve should be done before taking any other action when dealing with a plumbing emergency.
If you are uncertain about how to locate the shutoff valve, consult a qualified plumber to assist you in properly identifying it and show you how it works. With this knowledge, you can turn off just that particular appliance or fixture and not have to turn off all of the water lines in your home at once.
Call a Plumber for Any Plumbing Emergencies
Even if you’re an experienced DIYer, dealing with a major plumbing issue on the fly can be difficult. To help reduce your risk of a plumbing emergency, call a plumber if there are signs of distress such as a strange smell or gurgling in the pipes. A professional can help diagnose and address any issues before they become serious.
In addition, consider calling a plumbing specialist for anything that requires special tools or experience. Changing pipe connections for new appliances, for example, is difficult without specialized tools and plumbing knowledge. It’s also important to call in qualified help when dealing with frozen pipes; water damage from burst pipes can be costly and time-consuming to repair without professional assistance.
Remember that some problems don’t make themselves obvious until your guests arrive – don’t let your holiday gathering turn into an embarrassing situation by not taking precautions ahead of time.
Nobody wants to experience a plumbing disaster during the holidays, but they can occur if you don’t take precautions. With proper maintenance and sensible best practices, you can enjoy the holiday season without plumbing worries.
To reduce your risk of encountering an embarrassing holiday plumbing emergency, consider the following:
- Keep drains and sinks clean.
- Inspect hoses and fixtures for leaks.
- Exercise caution when disposing of waste in your toilets and sinks.
- Practice water conservation throughout the year to reduce stress on your plumbing system.
- Always know who to call in case of an emergency.
Andrew Lee is the founder of My Plumber. He has been in the industry for over 20 years and has extensive experience in all aspects of plumbing. He also enjoys sharing his knowledge with others and has written several articles and given talks on plumbing.