The holiday season brings both cold temperatures and a warm welcome to family members and other guests who come to visit your home. But both can take their toll on your plumbing system unless you prepare for their arrival in advance.
The main issue with cold weather is the possibility of frozen pipes, which may burst as water expands into ice, leaving your home flooded during the busiest time of year. Guests present a greater risk of clogged drains, both because of abnormally higher use of plumbing components as well as inappropriate items being tossed into sinks and toilets.
Protecting your plumbing requires awareness of specific risk factors as well as preparation to minimize these risks.
Protect Your Pipes From Freezing Temperatures
Drain pipes are not vulnerable to freezing unless they are completely clogged because water is not retained in drain lines. Supply pipes must remain filled with water to supply water on demand, so supply pipes must be protected. There are various methods for keeping supply pipes from freezing, and the degree of protection will depend upon the temperature to which they will be exposed.
Pipe Wrap Insulation
If the vulnerable pipes are in an under-heated room but are not likely to be exposed to extreme subfreezing temperatures, you can wrap them with insulation. Pipe wrap is available in lengths of round foam rubber that is opened along a split center seam and placed around vulnerable pipes. You can also choose to upgrade to fiberglass pipe insulation, which is sold in paper-backed sections that are wrapped around pipes (insulation side inside) and sealed with paper tape.
If you need additional protection, there are options that require electricity to keep your pipes from freezing. Pipe warming cables are lengths of thin electric wire that are wrapped around pipes and provide heat to the pipes when plugged into a nearby outlet.
You can also opt for a portable electric heater that is coupled with a thermostat controlled outlet adapter. The adapter is plugged into an outlet, and the heater is plugged into the adapter. When the room temperature approaches 32 degrees (freezing), the adapter is activated to power a portable heater until the room temperature rises above the freezing point.
Protect Your Drains From Clogging When Holiday Guests Arrive
Hair is a major clogging agent for bathroom drains, and if you have family or other guests that will be staying at your home for an extended period, you must install drain covers to catch hair before it forms a hairball that will slow or completely stop a drain with your home filled with holiday guests.
While there are flat drain covers that fit over drains to catch hair, they are easily dislodged. Use hair catchers that are inserted into tub and sink drains in possible and clean them every night. You will be amazed at the amount of hair that will accumulate in one 24 hour period.
The holidays also bring seasonal challenges for kitchen drains as holiday foods are prepared and guests use toilets as trash containers.
Holiday Food Items That Clog Kitchen Drains
You must monitor the materials that are placed into your kitchen sink disposal during holiday meal preparations. These include the following items:
- Pumpkin rinds and flesh
- Turkey and chicken bones
- Hot grease or cooking oil
All of these items can create serious clogs and other damage to your pipes. Be careful, and make sure everyone in your home knows what not to put down the disposal.
Materials That Can't Be Flushed Down Your Toilet
Basically, only toilet paper and human waste belong in your toilet. Paper towels, hairballs pulled from brushes, and other appropriate items must be placed in trash baskets. If a baby will be visiting, you should provide a diaper pail or suitable substitute for wipes and diapers.Of course, you can't watch everyone at every moment, and if you're in the Santa Cruz area, Albert's Plumbing & drain service will come to the rescue and save your holiday.