The holiday season is upon us! That usually means extra visitors, parties with delicious food, and plumbing emergencies! During the holiday season, calls to plumbers increase dramatically. This may be due to “wet bandits” vandalizing homes, but is more often due to the increase in house guests overwhelming and improperly using your home’s plumbing system. Here are a few tips to keep your holidays merry, bright, and plumber free!

Respect Your Garbage Disposal

During the holidays, most kitchens are used to prepare the biggest family meal of the year. Friends and family will gather for a Christmas ham, goose, or turkey. When people rely on the garbage disposal to take care of trimmings while cooking or plate scrapings after eating, the disposal may find it difficult to keep up. When garbage disposals are full or overwhelmed, they back-up into the sink or dishwasher; you’ve found your wet bandit! To prevent your garbage disposal from breaking down under the pressure, limit what is pushed into it. Use your drain strainer while preparing food, which will help trap any large bits of food. Make sure everyone knows to scrape their plates into the trash can or dog food bowl and not into the sink. Let them know that if they are not going to scrape their plates at all, to leave them on the counter instead of adding them to the sink, and maybe don’t invite them back next year! If you notice food accidentally slip by, run cold water and turn on the disposal. Don’t wait until the disposal is full to run it. Wait until the disposal sounds clear before shutting it off. The purpose of your disposal is to prevent clogs from forming in your pipes by breaking up any food that accidentally goes down the sink, not as an alternative to your garbage can.

Prepare for Extra Usage

When guests visit, it can stress your home’s plumbing system. If your guests are staying long enough to require bathing, instruct them to wait at least 15 minutes between baths or showers to allow water to completely drain. Although your home may have a brand new hot water heater and seven tubs, do not allow more than one person to bathe at one time. You may need to temporarily turn your water heater up to prevent the additional usage from overwhelming it. Be sure to turn it back down after holiday guests return home to prevent scalding and increased home energy bills. Make sure that each of your tub drains have a hair trap covering it to collect all the additional hair that will be washed.

Treat Your Toilet as a Throne

A host of holiday plumber calls is because the wrong things are put into the toilet. Homes that do not have garbage disposals (or have disposals that have been overwhelmed and stopped working) may be tempted to flush foods and greases down the toilet; this is a huge mistake. The toilet is not meant for solids and can quickly become clogged and escalate with normal use, into a very big backup; which poses a disgusting problem when normal use is resumed. Never flush baby wipes, cotton balls, bleach cleaning wipes, feminine hygiene products, or hair down the toilet. These items, as well as most others, do not dissolve and can create difficult blocks. Remind your guests to respect your toilets and use them appropriately, a friendly note posted on the wall never hurts! Make sure there is a trash can in the bathroom to help prevent people from flushing rubbish. Frequent flushing or flushing before the bowl completely fills can affect the flow of the toilet and lead it to run continually. Leaving a plunger next to each toilet can help guests correct their clogs rather than attempting to flush troubles down and overflowing the bowl.

Ditch the Grease

Always avoid pouring fats or oils down drains, sink, toilet, or otherwise. The grease sticks to pipe walls, creating sticky clogs that are difficult to remove and easily trap additional particles. Even when poured down a drain and immediately followed with hot water, animal fat can quickly solidify and block drains. Avoid this all together and throw the drippings away or repurpose them. If you are trying to avoid throwing liquid into the trash, pour it into a sealable jar before putting it in the can. If grease or fat does make it into your pipes, use cold water so it will solidify and you can flush it through rather than letting it settle and stick the pipes.

Plumbers are frequently called over the holidays for emergencies because of homes full of careless guests who don’t pay attention to where their food goes. Don’t allow your holiday guests to leave you with a plumber’s bill as a gift. Make sure you and your guests take care of your drains and pipes! Should you find yourself needing an emergency plumber, trust the experts at Culler Plumbing Services, standing by to fix your home plumbing problems!