With these winter plumbing tips, your house will be ready for cold weather. Like you, your house needs to be wrapped up and kept warm this winter. The only difference is your house needs a little more than a fluffy blanket and a hot beverage to do the trick. With colder days here, we’ve put together tips to keep your plumbing working throughout the winter.
The Top 10 Holiday Plumbing Disasters and How to Prevent Them
by Nevie Sessoms, Owner One Stop Plumbing
Holiday plumbing disasters tend to strike at the worst times. And with a house full of family and friends for the holidays, you need your plumbing to work. It’s not surprising that your kitchen and bathroom will see the most wear and tear during the holidays. But while you’re hosting guests and cooking up a storm, you won’t want to worry about water leaks or cold showers.
To avoid these problems, we’ve put together a handy list of the 10 most common Holiday Plumbing Disasters and how to avoid them.
#1 – There’s no hot water coming from the water heater.
If you have guests over this holiday season, more people will need to take showers. You’ll also have more clothes and dishes to wash. All these activities need hot water, but the more hot water you use, the greater the strain on your water heater. To avoid cold showers and dirty dishes, set up a preventative maintenance check-up for your water heater before your guests arrive. A lack of hot water could mean that your gas or electric energy source isn’t actually heating up any water. And if you notice any strange sounds coming from your water heater, that’s a sign that it’s in need of repairs.
#2 – The garbage disposal isn’t working.
The last thing you want to deal with after cooking a holiday meal is a broken garbage disposal. Luckily, there’s an easy way to avoid any disposal mayhem – just be careful about what you put in your sink. Resist the urge to pour oil and grease down the drain. Bones don’t belong in the garbage disposal, and neither do eggshells, pasta, coffee grounds, or potato peels. In addition, fibrous foods like onions and celery can wreak havoc on your garbage disposal. When in doubt, compost or throw away food debris instead of dumping it down the drain.
But suppose your guest peeled potatoes in the sink when you weren’t there, and the disposal won’t work. What now? If you flip the switch and it won’t turn on, or it makes a humming noise, your disposal is either clogged or broken. In cases like this, call a licensed plumber to come take a look.
#3 – Someone put grease down the kitchen sink, and it won’t drain.
As mentioned above, oil and grease don’t belong in your sink. That’s because, as they cool down, they solidify and can clog your drain. If this happens, you can try a DIY fix — just make sure to unplug your garbage disposal first. Pouring a mixture of hot water and vinegar, or hot water, salt, and baking soda can often clear tough clogs like this. But if you’re not sure how to clear the clog yourself, call a licensed plumber right away. And in the future, make sure to dispose of grease in the trash. A handy sign for guests near the sink might not be a bad idea either!
#4 – Your gas stove or oven doesn’t work and needs to be replaced.
If your gas stove burners aren’t lighting, your stove’s pilot light may have gone out. Or, there could be food or grease buildup inside your burners. These are usually easy fixes. Relight the pilot light and clean your stove as well as you can. If these solutions don’t work, you may need to replace the burner or the whole appliance.
If your gas oven isn’t working, there may be problems with your gas safety valve or bake ignitor. When this happens, you should reach out to a certified gas fitter or your local gas company.
#5 – There is water leaking under the sink.
As the days get colder, you’ll want to keep an eye out for leaks around the house. In lower temperatures, pipes tend to contract. If any of your pipes are poorly insulated or damaged in any way, this could lead to leaks. Corroded pipes or pipe connectors can also cause leaks. Before you have any guests over, conduct a thorough inspection of all the water sources in your house. If you do notice any leaks, it could be useful to contact a licensed plumber.
#6 – One of the biggest Holiday Plumbing Disasters is when the toilet won’t flush.
If your toilet won’t flush, start by opening the back lid to see what’s happening. If the water is running, then there may be an issue with the flapper. To fix it, you can jiggle the handle or reach into the tank to adjust it by hand. If the water isn’t running, though, you may need to use a plunger — or some dish soap and hot water! — to clear out the clog.
Toilet clogs are common, but they’re also easy to prevent. This holiday season, remind your guests not to flush anything other than toilet paper. Feminine hygiene products, paper towels, tissues, cotton swabs, and so-called “flushable wipes” do not belong in the toilet. To avoid any awkward conversations, keep a wastebasket and plunger in your bathroom.
#7 – The toilet won’t stop running.
Unlike a toilet clog, a running toilet is a little easier to fix yourself. There are two possible causes. The flapper might not be in place, or the float might be rubbing against something. Check the flapper first; if it isn’t aligned, put it back into place. If that doesn’t work, check the float next. The float is a plastic piece that floats in your water tank, resembling a balloon. Make sure the float isn’t floating too high, and that it isn’t rubbing against any other toilet parts. Both of these issues can cause a toilet to run.
#8 – Your shower won’t drain (because the pipes are clogged).
If this happens, avoid reaching for a chemical drain cleaner until you’ve tried other options. Instead, use a drain snake to pull any hair and soap scum out of the drain. You can also use a toilet plunger to remove any unwanted gunk. If these fixes still don’t clear the pipes, call a licensed plumber.
#9 – The sewer line is backed up and none of the toilets will flush or sinks will drain.
This is the kind of nightmare scenario that every host wants to avoid. Feminine hygiene products, hair, toilet paper, and even tree roots can cause a sewer line clog. If you suspect the main sewer line is clogged, call a licensed plumber right away. They may need to use a tool like hydro jetting to clear out your sewer line.
#10 – Your pipes have frozen and might burst.
In the wintertime, inspect your pipes for any cracks or corrosion and seal them right away. You should also make sure your home is well-insulated to avoid frozen or burst pipes. Keep your thermostat above 55ºF at all times, even if you’re leaving for the holidays. If it gets much colder than usual, you can turn all your faucets on enough to produce a small trickle. The steady flow of water should prevent the pipes from freezing and bursting.
If you still end up with frozen pipes, here’s what you can do. Keep your faucets on and apply heat to your frozen pipes, using a hairdryer or heating pad. As you do this, avoid using any device with an open flame in the process.
One Stop Plumbing is here to help you avoid Holiday Plumbing Disasters
The appropriate maintenance and upkeep can help avoid Holiday Plumbing Disasters. But disaster can always strike despite your best efforts. When a plumbing problem does happen, it’s important to call a repair specialist like us. Here at One Stop Plumbing, we want to make sure your holiday festivities go off without a hitch. So give us a call today! Drip. Drip. Drop. Call One Stop! (757) 321-8874
One Stop Plumbing has been serving Hampton Roads since 2005. We are fully licensed, bonded, and insured. Our owner Nevie Sessoms is a Master Plumber licensed by the Virginia Department of Professional Occupation and Regulation (DPOR) and a Master Gas Fitter.
Get ready for the holidays and give us a call!
If you see or hear a Drip. Drip. Drop. Call One Stop! (757) 321-8874!