Preventing Holiday Plumbing Problems

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The holiday season brings a parade of parties, lavish family meals, out-of-town visitors and, often, household plumbing emergencies. Busy kitchens mean more grease and food waste to drag down the kitchen drain and disposer, and houseguests 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 experts at Roto-Rooter tell us that on the day after

The holiday season brings a parade of parties, lavish family meals, out-of-town visitors and, often, household plumbing emergencies. Busy kitchens mean more grease and food waste to drag down the kitchen drain and disposer, and houseguests 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 experts at Roto-Rooter tell us that on the day after Christmas alone, their business can jump up to anywhere between 20 percent and 40 percent over a normal day. ?Nobody wants their holiday ruined by a clogged drain, so when they call us, they want immediate assistance,? says Larry Rothman, master plumber for Roto-Rooter. ?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 during the holiday season.

By taking a few precautions, homeowners can avoid stop-ups and visits from their local plumber. Rothman and his colleagues recommend the following for those who will be 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 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 -- 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, 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 houseguest 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, 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 and avoid holiday service charges.

    Note: Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program. To find a local radio station, download the show?s podcast or sign-up for Tom?s free weekly e-newsletter, visit the program?s website.

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