Are you hosting holiday celebrations this year? With extra people staying at your house for a few days, the sewer system, water pipes, and appliances are put to the test. The last thing you need is to experience a plumbing emergency while juggling guests during this hectic time of year. Here are the main ways to avoid holiday plumbing problems.

Prevent a Sewage Backup

Your sewer line is easy to take for granted, but if you have a sewer backup, you will suddenly realize how much you count on your toilets, sinks, and shower drains. Follow these tips to avoid holiday plumbing problems related to the sewer system:

  • Watch what you flush: Items such as paper towels, facial tissue, newspaper, cotton swabs, and feminine hygiene products may flush down the toilet, but over time, they can clog your sewer line. Therefore, it’s best to only flush toilet paper and human waste.
  • Don’t pour grease down the kitchen sink: It’s easy to wash cooking grease from pots and pans down the drain. However, this hardens at room temperature, which can create horrendous clogs further down the line. Dump grease in the trash to keep your kitchen sink clear.
  • Use a mesh hair trapper in your sink and shower drains: Hair and chunks of soap can accumulate over time, causing your sinks and showers to back up. A mesh hair trapper is an easy way to avoid this.

Prevent Frozen Pipes

The winter holidays are a typical time for frozen pipes. Don’t let this put a damper on your holiday plans! Prevent your pipes from freezing with these tips:

  • Insulate your water pipes: If you have any pipes located within 5 inches of an exterior wall, install pipe insulation. Electric heat tape provides additional protection for especially vulnerable plumbing.
  • Run a trickle of water on unusually cold nights: The slight water flow may be enough to prevent the pipes from freezing. Even if ice does form, the open tap releases pressure so the pipe won’t burst.
  • Keep your furnace on: Even if you’re traveling for the holidays, heat your home to 55 degrees or higher at all times in the winter.

Prevent a Flooded House

Whether caused by a slow leak or catastrophic failure, home floods caused by dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters can definitely interrupt your time with out-of-town guests. Here’s how to avoid holiday plumbing problems related to appliances:

  • Don’t run your dishwasher when you’re away from home: Everything from a torn inlet hose to a failed door gasket can allow water to leak from your dishwasher and onto the kitchen floor. If this happens, you can interrupt the cycle and clean up the mess without too much trouble. This is why we recommend only running the dishwasher while you’re at home.
  • Check washing machine hoses often: Peek behind your washing machine every few months to make sure the hose isn’t becoming brittle. Better yet, replace the rubber inlet hoses with durable steel-braided versions. Do the same with the hose behind your freezer if it features an ice maker.
  • Maintain your water heater: Catch leaky valves and replace them before they cause damage. Flush the tank periodically to help prevent it from corroding, as well as reduce your water heating costs.