8 Simple Plumbers Tips for the Holidays

Over the holidays, more time will be spent inside due to the colder weather. Plus, you’ll likely have more guests using your plumbing. Plumbing emergencies happen all the time–even on holidays. You can avoid holiday hosting snafus and plumbing emergencies by following our simple holiday plumbing tips.
  1. If It’s Not Waste or Toilet Paper, Don’t Flush It
Toilets and drains are designed to flush only specific things. They cannot handle paper towels, cotton swabs, plastic items, sanitary products, or any other object. Even “flushable” wipes should be thrown away in the trash. Sewer clogs are much easier to avoid than they are to fix. Put a trash bin in the bathroom to allow guests to throw trash away and not flush it. Consider hiding any “flushable” wipes unless you take the time to explain that they cannot go down the toilet. Be sure children know not to flush toys or other items down the toilet.
  1. Have a Plan to Address Overflowing or Blocked Toilets
If the toilet water is rising to overflow, open the tank and push on the flush valve to stop the water. This will give you a little time to address the problem or call a plumber. Make sure you have rubber cleaning gloves and a plunger on hand to deal with any problems. If you don’t have a plunger handy when your toilet gets blocked, try using boiling water and dish soap and see if that will break down the clog.
  1. Be Careful of What Goes Down the Garbage Disposal
With the holidays comes lots of food and guests! Often, guests will offer to help pick up and clean up after lunch or dinner, which sometimes leads to excessive or dangerous items going down the garbage disposal. Never put grease or fat down the drain. These are the glue that sticks to the drains and grabs other objects on their way down. Grease and fat are the number one cause of kitchen drain clogs. Instead of the disposal, put unwanted grease or fat in a disposable container and let it harden, then toss it in the garbage. Remember that gravy is mostly made of fat, so avoid putting too much of it down the drain as well. The best rule of thumb to live by is: if it can be scraped into the garbage, it should be. Especially avoid putting fibrous vegetables like celery or potato peels, foods that expand like rice or pasta, and hard waste byproducts like peels, eggshells, seeds, or other non-edible items into your disposal.
  1. Protect & Clean Your Drains
A build-up of gunk can slow sink and shower drains. Install mesh drain covers to block soap, hair, and other debris from going down drains to prevent clogs. Remember to clean or replace your mesh covers and drain stoppers periodically. This will save you a lot of time snaking drains and cleaning out hard-to-reach gunk. One Thanksgiving DIY kitchen drain cleaning hack is to pour boiling water down the drain, then add ¼ cup of baking soda and leave it for 20 minutes. Afterward, pour a cup of vinegar and a cup of hot water and leave it to work for another 20 minutes. Then, follow it up with some more boiling water. Alternatively, you can try boiling water and four tablespoons of degreaser dish soap. To clean a bathroom sink or shower drain, using a drain snake is best, but the kitchen drain trick above can work as well. Either of these DIY plumbing cleaning tips can help keep your drains clear over the holidays.
  1. Look for Plumbing Leaks
Leaks aren’t something to be ignored or taken lightly. Take note of any dripping faucets or water damage around the house, and get a plumber out to complete any necessary repairs. A dripping faucet can waste hundreds of gallons of water every year. Leaking faucets are often caused by degraded O-rings or cartridges, which are generally easily repaired. Other plumbing leaks can cause corrosion, mold, mildew, and other water damage, which can be labor-intensive and costly to fix. If your pipe is corroded and you get small pinhole leaks, this is a sign that there is heavy corrosion inside the pipe, and it is probably on the verge of total failure. It’s best to get any pipes with pinhole leaks replaced as soon as possible. To check for toilet leaks, add food coloring to the tank and see if it leaks into the bowl.
  1. Flush Sediment out of Your Water Heater
Over time, minerals in water build up in your water heater. This buildup is a result of the heating and cooling process the water goes through, leaving behind the minerals it carries. The buildup of sediment can cause rust and extensive damage to your water heater. Over time, the sediment can accumulate to such a degree that it creates an inner insulation problem, which means it takes more heat and gas to heat up the water inside, significantly reducing your energy efficiency. Water heaters should be flushed annually to clear out sediment. If you haven’t flushed your water heater recently, the holidays are a good time to flush it or schedule water heater maintenance. If your water heater is making banging noises, it’s a sign that it desperately needs to be flushed.
  1. Winterize Your Plumbing for the Holidays
If you haven’t prepared your plumbing for the cold yet, it’s always a good idea to get it done. Insulate your pipes in unheated areas, disconnect outdoor hoses, and know where your other shut-off valves are. Turn off outdoor spigots at their interior shut-off valve, drain them, and then cover them with styrofoam insulation. Taking these simple measures can help prevent frozen and burst pipes and avoid serious property damage.
  1. Clean Your Showerheads
Showerheads clog up over time from mineral deposits. The sediment blocks shower nozzles and causes water to come through the small openings in the showerhead at weird angles. Sediment can even encourage mold buildup in your showerhead. Luckily, showerheads are usually an easy fix. Get some vinegar and soak your showerhead for 24 hours. The vinegar breaks down the mineral accumulation and kills any bacteria present. Scrub the showerhead with a bristle brush and reinstall the showerhead. Once reinstalled, run water through the showerhead for a minute to rinse out any leftover vinegar.

Black Hills Expert Plumbing Services in Olympia

If these plumbing tips weren’t enough to solve the problem, contact Black Hills for expert plumbing repairs in Olympia and Western Washington. Our plumbers are licensed and bonded. We can quickly fix any plumbing problem quickly and let you get back to the holidays. We offer flat-rate pricing with no hidden fees. Our work comes with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee for every repair, installation, or maintenance service we offer.

Do Our Plumbers Work on Christmas & Other Holidays?

We know that plumbing emergencies happen at the worst of times, especially during the holiday season. If an emergency pops up, only plumbing companies with 24/7 emergency services have plumbers ready to work on Christmas. Black Hills’ emergency plumbing services are available 24/7, 365 days a year, even on Thanksgiving or Christmas. For prompt and effective service in the Olympia, Washington, area, call 888-978-2917 today!