Don't let the holidays put a strain on your plumbing

The holidays are here, which often means more time in the kitchen and more people in the house.
Angie's List
recommends some preventative maintenance before your guests arrive to avoid a plumbing breakdown in the middle of your holiday hosting.

Garbage disposal:
Use the disposal properly: Turn the cold water on, let it run for 10-15 seconds. Turn the disposal on and start to feed the unit bits at a time until all the food is gone and let the water run for another 30 seconds to clear it all out and get it all down the drain. Don't overload the disposal and run it frequently: If you don't run the disposal for several days,  the blades can rust and corrode. If your disposal won't turn on, try to reset it. Most models come with a reset button on the bottom of the garbage disposal, underneath your sink. For a disposal that is jammed, some models have tool for you to crank yourself. The tool goes into the bottom of the unit and you can turn the inside part that actually spins. Never put your hands in the drain. If you are still having issues, consult with a plumber.

Sump Pumps
Keep the pit free of debris. Test the pump's operation on a monthly basis by manually pulling the float up to engage the motor. Another way to test is to fill the sump pit with water and go outside to make sure the pump is actually discharging water. You can eliminate any build-up in the system by periodically pouring white vinegar through the unit.

Sink clogs:
Bathroom sink clogs happen over time from the buildup of hair bits, soap and fibers from towels that accumulates inside of pipes. Use a sink plunger: It is smaller and shaped differently than a toilet plunger. Place the plunger over the sink's drain hole, ensuring there's enough water at the bottom to form a seal. Pump the plunger up and down - while keeping a good seal - to help dislodge a clog. Try pouring hot or near-boiling water down the drain. The water's heat may break up any organic compounds or soap scum within the clog. A combination of baking soda and hot water can add more clog-busting power to your drain-clearing efforts.

Although it may be tempting to pour in over-the-counter drain-clearing products, many plumbers advise against it. Not only are the chemicals toxic if exposed to human skin, they can also damage drain pipes if overused.

Toilet clogs:
Use a plunger as your first line of defense with a clogged toilet. It can also fix clogs in bathtubs or shower, but be sure to fill the base with an inch of water to help the plunger seal before plunging. Toilets often endure items being flushed that should instead be thrown away such as paper towels or baby wipes. Those items can quickly block a drain line; especially in homes where tree roots have infiltrated the main sewer line. For an overflowing toilet, locate the shut off valve: Turn the valve until the water shuts off to prevent additional overflow. If your toilet does not have one, open the tank and rig the float to stay in its position and not let any more water fill the tank. If a clog is the culprit of the overflow, grab a plunger and try plunging it free.


Print this article Back to Top