Families gather every year to observe the holidays in their traditional manner. However, there is nothing traditional about the extra work your plumbing is going to be required to perform for days if not weeks. When preparing for extended families to eat, drink and make merry, little thought is given beforehand to the plumbing system. If you think about it the way we here at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain do, you’d realize that your hot water heater, septic system, toilet, dishwasher, washing machine, garbage disposal, hot tub, shower and faucets are going to be busy almost continuously when your home is packed with visiting loved ones and friends.
Plumbers are busy during the holidays, and many people are using the plumbing systems of houses that don’t usually get many visitors. Double or triple the normal use plus fewer available plumbers could lead to problems over the holidays. Here are some tips to make sure that your plumbing system is the unsung hero of your gathering.
Extra Visitors Means Extra Work on Your Pluming
Due to the emphasis on eating and drinking, you can be certain that your toilet is going to get a stern workout. When your family of five becomes a party of 20, it’s safe to assume that your toilet will work more than four times as hard as it usually does. That’s a significant increase, but if your toilet has been well maintained, it shouldn’t be a concern. The same thing applies to all the appliances in your home. One thing to remember is that some of your visitors may not be familiar with your brand of toilet, and they may not understand how to use it. So, for starters, it’s best to have a simple, easy-to-operate toilet. Nobody likes reading “how to” manuals, so keep it simple, and you won’t have as many problems. Visitors shouldn’t need a manual to learn how to flush the toilet or turn on the shower in the same way that they won’t need you to tell them how to fall asleep at night. They’ll just do it when the time comes.
The following problems should also be turned over to a specialist who can sort out the problems quickly and repair any of them during the first trip.
- The toilet doesn’t stop running.
- The water closet doesn’t fill completely.
- The water in the toilet is hot.
Preparing Your Bathroom for Visitors
While you’re attending to the needs of the bathroom, be sure that you have plenty of toilet paper, guest towels and handsoap on hand, and just in case, put a new plunger next to the toilet. Also, since your toilet is going to be very busy dealing with the extra people, you could make it easier for the toilet paper to get absorbed and dissolved quickly by purchasing thin toilet paper. Your toilet and septic system will thank you for this kindness by handling it more efficiently.
Consider Your Garbage Disposal
Have mercy on your garbage disposal. With so many people destined to visit, and so much food being planned, prepared and cooked, your disposal is sure to see plenty of action over the holidays. Give it a bit of a break by only putting things in it that are meant to be there. Never use hot water with the disposal, as it can overheat the grease and make it smell awful. Cold water solidifies grease so it can be broken up by the disposal. Small pieces of food can be discarded, but big pieces should go in the trash instead of the disposal. Breads are fine, but don’t stuff too much in at one time or you could bind the blades. Don’t put any bones or stringy vegetables in the disposal. It’s meant to deal with soft, cooked vegetable and meats. Egg shells are fine, but shredding the box they were in is not. Running a load of ice cubes or rock salt through it will clean any accumulated food from the blades of the disposal.
Examine Your Kitchen Faucet
Take the time to examine your kitchen faucet. If you’ve been wanting to upgrade to a nicer faucet with a retractable sprayer, it’s a good idea to buy one and have it installed before the holidays. That way, it will be tested and working well, and it’ll help you make short work of the piles of dishes that will be stacked near the kitchen sink. Besides that, if your current faucet is causing problems, it would be better to replace it now so you can enjoy the better new hardware than to suffer through the holidays with a defective faucet. Nothing in the same price range as a faucet with pull-out sprayer can make such a pronounced difference in handling a large load of dirty dishes, especially with several oversized serving dishes and bowls.
If you notice an odor coming from the disposal, or to be on the safe side if you don’t smell anything evil, put some bacterial drain cleaner with ice cubes or a cup of vinegar and baking soda through it. Either combination will clear away old food and leave the blades clean and fresh.
Flush Out Your Water Heater
You might also want to show your water heater a little extra care by flushing it out before the holidays to remove any hard deposits or sandy sediments from the tank before you put it through its paces. Try to give it at least 15 minutes between showers or other heavy duties like laundry or a load of dishes to be washed. That way it will have some down time and won’t be running continuously.
Success is the result of planning and preparation. Your plumbing system can handle your holiday celebration if all the parts are in good condition, and it’s working well. If you notice strange noises, erratic performance or anything you don’t understand, give bluefrog Plumbing + Drain a call before you’re too busy with your holiday celebrations. We’re standing by to help if you need us.