Holiday Plumbing Tips #1: Water Heater
It’s always a battle to see who makes it to the first shower of the evening. If you fall last in line, chances are you’ll be shivering in the cold water. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Here are a few easy ideas you can adopt so everyone has a warm, steamy shower.
- Give 20 minutes between showers. The average home has a 40-gallon water heater tank, which will, on average, give you 20 minutes of hot water. The tank then needs about 20 minutes after the water is shut off to refill and rewarm the next batch of hot water. So, limit showers to 10 minutes and you can do two in a row. Then wait 20 minutes before the next two people shower.
- Buy a low-flow shower head. For less than $20 you could replace your shower heads with low-flow versions. These shower heads can spray with the same pressure you have now, but save you on energy and water costs. They’ll also keep your guests from rapidly draining the water tank which means more people can shower in hot water.
- Run dishwasher and clothes washer at night or during times when no one is taking a shower. These machines are using up your hot water. Avoid running them when you and your guests are getting ready and you won’t have to wash up in frigid water.
- Check Your Heater to make sure it is in good condition. If your water heater has rust spots, corrosion, or just looks worn out consider having it serviced before your guests arrive. Doing so should 1) cause your water heater to work more efficiently so that it refills and heats water quickly, 2) extend the life of your unit, and 3) alert you to any leaks or internal issues that could cause your heater to burst while in use.
Holiday Plumbing Tips #2: Prepare Your Drains
The last thing you want to do with your guests is wait for a plumber to unclog your drains. Be proactive and prepare your drains by following these steps:
- Pull Hair Out of the Drains: Take an hour and clean your shower and sink drains. You’ll need a pair of gloves, a screwdriver (the type depends on your specific drain), and a trashcan. Lift the strainer out of the drain and pull and gobs of hair, oil, soap scum, etc., that may be trapped. Toss in the trash and follow step two.
- Pour a solution of vinegar and baking soda down the drain. Let it sit for a few minutes and then follow with boiling hot water. With the completion of steps 1 and 2, your drains will be ready for your niece’s long hair and your uncle’s beard trimmings.
- Buy a Hair Catcher. Spend $5 and purchase a hair catcher. They sit in the drain and capture falling hair while letting the water pass through. Hair clogs are the number one issue with household shower drain issues, so you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches when you take this advice.
Holiday Plumbing Tips #3: Set Rules for Your Garbage Disposal
Yes, yes, everyone has a garbage disposal, but everyone uses it differently. And, since you’ll be hosting more people than typically live at your house, it won’t hurt to be a bit more cautious with your disposal use. Remind guests that certain items should be thrown in the trash and not the sink.
For example no bones, oil, grease, vegetables, potatoes, or onion peels, nothing that is fibrous like celery or extremely hard like raw beets and jicama.
Also, consider tossing ice down the disposal once in awhile to sharpen the blades. Always run water down with food. And let the water run for 60 seconds after food is gone to ensure the disposal is clean. You don’t want food getting cakes on the blades or and other intricately moving part.
Holiday Plumbing Tips #4: Remind Guests About Your Septic System
It might come second nature to you not to throw sanitary napkins into the toilet, but as we all know, common sense isn’t common. This is especially true if you have a septic system; you are well aware of the items that can and cannot be thrown into the mix. Guests may not be as aware. Take time to remind them that the following should go into the trash:
- Sanitary napkins/feminine products
- Flush-able wipes
- Cleaning wipes
- Facial Cleansing Pads
- Cotton Balls & Swabs
- Paper towels
Hosting guests this holiday season may be the best part of your Christmas celebration. Don’t let everything come to a halt because of a few silly plumbing problems. These holiday plumbing tips will surely keep you from having a major disaster, but if you want more peace of mind a thorough inspection of your household plumbing can be done before Santa arrives.