We're Braced for the Holidays - Are You?

Winter holiday season is upon us and for many people that means a hectic pace of gift shopping, meal planning and preparation, and tidying up the house for visiting guests. Those of us at Dutton Plumbing face the same seasonal chores at home, but with an added pressure point. We know that our business will be busier than normal during the holiday season.

The winter holidays put extra demands on household plumbing for many homeowners. Sumptuous holiday meals lead to more grease and food waste stuffed into kitchen drains and disposals. Holiday guests mean more showers and toilet flushes. More hot water usage may tax the capacity of your water heater.

Extra pressure on your plumbing system brings Murphy’s Law into play: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong …” with an addendum – “at the worst possible time.” Like the day of your big holiday dinner. Plumbing problems during the holidays are almost by definition an emergency. Every year we face an upsurge of calls during the holiday season from panicky homeowners asking, “Can you get here right away!”

That’s what we do, and we’re happy to oblige. But it would be better for you, our beloved customers, to avoid the mental anguish of needing emergency plumbing service. So here are a few tips to help prevent those panicky calls.

  • Respect the limitations of your kitchen sink drain and disposal. Don’t pour fats or cooking oils down the drain or into the disposal, because thick and greasy liquids solidify in your pipes to create clogs. Before rinsing pots and pans under the kitchen faucet use a paper towel to wipe congealed grease from them and dispose of the dirty towel in the trash.
  • Avoid putting stringy, fibrous waste into your garbage disposal. Common food waste like poultry skin and bones, potato peels, carrots, celery, pumpkin pulp, banana peels and coffee grounds are hard to grind and invite sink drain clogs and disposal breakdowns.
  • Also, avoid putting glassware into the same sink bowl that contains your disposal. Broken glass is a disposal killer, and it’s easy to break glass when a large volume of dirty dishes are piled up in the bowl.
  • Turn on the disposal before shoving food debris into it, and run cold water down the drain for -10-15 seconds before and after using the garbage disposal. This will help to flush waste down the main line.
  • If you host, overnight guests understand that your water heater and water pressure may not be up to accommodating all of the extra demand. Try to spread out showers throughout the day rather than everyone taking theirs around the same time in the morning. Run your dishwasher and washing machine at night to maintain water pressure and give your water heater time to recover from all the daytime usage.
  • Don’t flush ANYTHING down your toilet except bodily waste and toilet paper. This includes so-called “flushable” wipes, which can get snagged in drain lines and trap other debris to cause clogs.

One final tip is the most important one of all. That is, prepare for the holidays all year round.

You see, when a plumbing emergency arises over the holidays, it most likely represents a tipping point over problems that have built up throughout the year. Your kitchen drain or disposal is likely to withstand extra holiday pressure if it’s free of debris when the holiday season starts. But when little bits accumulate throughout the year the surge at holiday time can get too much to handle. Running out of hot water during the holidays probably means your present water heater operates perilously close to capacity even during normal usage. You may need to consider a larger unit or on-demand water heaters at strategic locations around your home.

Holiday problems can be avoided with regular, simple plumbing maintenance like the service offered by our Family Service Plan, which features regular drain treatment with environmentally friendly biological agents and other annual checks and service. If you’re not already a member, check it out and avoid those panicky calls on the day of your big party.