It’s almost the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, when friends and family gather around the table and celebrate the season’s joys and take in home-cooked meals. That merriment, however, can quickly turn into mayhem in the event of a plumbing snafu. Yikes!
By keeping a few key things in mind, you can help things in working order and place the focus on entertaining instead of a clogged sink. Here are 10 tips that might help you enjoy the season to the fullest.
1. Place food scraps in the trash, not in the sink.
Resist the urge to scrape food matter off your dishes and into your sink. There are a lot of foods that can wreak havoc on your kitchen plumbing. If you don’t have a disposal, you have to be especially mindful of this fact.
One of the easiest ways to prevent debris from ending up in the drain is to use a simple, inexpensive sink strainer. Once you’re done washing off your dishes, you can discard these contents in the garbage or compost.
2. Be disposal-smart.
Sometimes homeowners use their disposal like it’s a catch-all for any waste generated in the house. That’s not prudent, as many materials can damage the unit and clog your drains. Here’s what you should avoid putting down the drain:
- Fibrous or stringy foods (such as celery or other tough vegetables)
- Rice, pasta, or bread-based products can expand when exposed to moisture
- Animal bones and fat
- Cooking oils and grease
- Paper, metal, or plastic materials
3. Space out showers.
If you find yourself hosting guests overnight during the holidays, you might have to be more intentional about your hot water usage. Spacing out the time between showers to about 10 or 15 minutes can help on multiple fronts. It can help ensure hot showers but also gives your drains an opportunity to clear out. (Each additional person showering could mean more organic matter that can create clogs.)
If you frequently host overnight guests, consider installing a tankless water heater to ensure you’re able to accommodate multiple showers. Nothing’s worse than cold water in the middle of a shower, after all.
4. Be kind to your toilets.
Increased traffic in my home means your toilets are probably going to have to have to pick up the slack. Sometimes kids (or inconsiderate adults) put things down the toilet that will create clogs and distractions for the host. That said, make sure your guests know not to flush the following:
- Sanitary napkins
- Feminine hygiene products
- Cleansing wipes
- Facial pads
- Cotton balls and swabs
- Paper towels
- Cigarette butts
5. Dispose of grease properly.
Anyone who’s worked in a fast-food restaurant is familiar with the issues associated with grease. That’s because it quickly congeals when it cools or comes into contact with cold water. This a recipe for disaster, because it restricts flow and catches other materials until it forms a major clog. To avoid such a nightmare, pour it outside or into a can or plastic bag that can be tossed into the garbage bin.
6. Wait to use the dishwasher.
If you have a lot of cleanup ahead of you, it can be tempting to run a dishwasher cycle while you manually wash dishes. This isn’t a great idea because the dishwasher and the garbage disposal typically share the same drain. Effectively, using the disposal or pouring anything into the sink can reintroduce waste into the dishwasher’s cleaning cycle. Even worse, if you have a clog, running the dishwasher could cause the water to back up and flood your kitchen.
7. Prepare your drains.
If you know you’re going to be entertaining a lot over the holidays, you can prime your kitchen drain for increased activity. One tried and true idea? Pour a brine solution (or very strong salt water) into your sink to eliminate odors. This is a great hack because it keeps grease from building up in your drains and you won’t have to worry about foul smells overpowering your Christmas dinner.
8. Buy a drain snake.
Your sinks, showers, and toilets are going to be working overtime if you have guests. Take a page out of a plumber’s playbook and have a plumber’s snake on hand should an issue arise. This tool is used to clean out clogs in smaller drains such as the bathroom or kitchen sinks. You’ll thank us later.
9. Check your pipes.
Cold Midwestern weather and pipes don’t mix. That’s why you should check that all outside spigot/hoses are properly disconnected, stored and turned to the off position. This will help you avoid excess water loss, save money and prevent freezing temperatures from bursting your spigots.
As an aside, this is especially important if you’re going to be away from home for several days. To prevent plumbing disasters, make sure that you turn off the main water valve prior to your trip. Shut off the main water valve when you leave your home, even if it’s just overnight. This will give you peace of mind while away.
10. Know how to call.
Hosting a holiday dinner can put a lot of strain on your household plumbing. Your kitchen and bathroom are likely to get more use, so even what seems like a minor issue can quickly become a serious issue with increased volume.
But you don’t have to leave anything to chance. Scheduling an appointment with a professional plumbing service to inspect your pipes can help you identify any issues now before the hustle and bustle of the season arrive in full force.
Whether an emergency or a preventative visit, our pros at JO Mory are here to help you. We’re licensed in Indiana and Michigan and have decades of experience to handle any job. We can handle your residential plumbing needs in Northeast Indiana. We also install water heaters, water softeners, and can fix that leaky pipe in your basement. If you have questions or would like to arrange for a free quote, call 800.621.6679.