Your Holiday Plumbing Checklist

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Every year it seems like the holidays catch lots of people off guard, us included! We realize we are just days away from having guests come visit and we remember a whole list of things that need done at the last minute. When it comes to plumbing, a little bit of planning early on can save you a lot of headache the week before Thanksgiving or on Christmas Eve.  We know the holiday season is still a ways off, and this post is early on purpose, so you can find and fix things while there is still time.

Your holiday plumbing checklist should include looking for existing problems, and problem proofing your home. A few small steps today can save you a lot of frustration in a few weeks.

  1. Test flush all of your toilets.  For some people this isn’t needed but a lot of people have bathrooms that only get used when there is company.  If a bathroom hasn’t been used in months make sure you check and test everything.  Listen for leaks after you flush the toilet, look for drips in the sink, and make sure all the drains empty properly.  It is a lot easier to fix a small problem early on than to discover it at the last minute.
  2. Winter proof your pipes.  If this is you, you know it.  Make sure all of your plumbing is sealed and insulated.  A water pipe that freezes and bursts can cause any gathering to grind to a halt.  If you are hoping for a white Christmas, you better be sure your pipes are ready to handle the cold so you can enjoy the snow.
  3. Drain your hoses and shut off outdoor water valves.  These might not ruin a family get together, but you can be sure that you will enjoy the holidays more without the headache or costs of getting these items repaired. If you have a sprinkler system for your lawn or garden, this is a good time to drain that as well.
  4. Test every source of heat in your home.  This includes your furnace, space heaters, radiant floor heat, etc.  It’s good to turn everything on that you normally use at the same time to make sure there are not any heating failures or electrical bugs to get worked out.  Many people have multiple sources for heat and it just wouldn’t be pleasant for part of your house to be cold with guests over.
  5. Check your hot water tank. Even if your guests aren’t taking hot showers, you can use a lot more hot water than normal around a big event.  Make sure your water tank is working at proper capacity, doesn’t have sediment build up, and is outputting at the right temperature.  If your water tank is about to fail, you want to detect it far in advance and get it fixed at a convenient time.
  6. Double check your septic tank level.  Many people with a septic tank that is full do not discover it until the house is packed, the toilets are being flushed more than normal, and a bad smell wafts out of the basement.  We know from experience, there is NEVER a good time for that to happen.  If even one person reads this post and it reminds them they are overdue to have their septic tank checked then it was all worth it.  It’s also a good idea to have your septic tank pump checked as that can cause your tank to fill up prematurely.
  7. Shut off outdoor gas lines.  If you have a gas grill, pool heater, or porch warmer, it is a good idea to shut off the gas for anything you won’t be using over the winter.  The temperature change can cause leaks and other bizarre things can happen like giant icicles falling from your roof and smashing the gas line to your grill. It sounds crazy, but things like this do happen, and they don’t tend to happen to people who ever thought they were possible.
  8. Inspect your gutters for clogs, cracks, and sagging.  It’s a good idea to make sure giant icicles don’t form and endanger your guests as they enter and exit your home.
  9. Flush out your French drains.  A lot of debris can accumulate over the summer and fall that can cause clogs or hold moister that freezes and cracks pipes.  Now is a good time to run high pressure water through these drains to flush them out and make sure you don’t discover any nasty problems in the spring.
  10. Double check all integrated appliances.  This includes dish washers, refrigerators, garbage disposals, gas fireplaces, and kitchen ventilation.  Some people only use certain appliances when they have company.  Now is the time to test those items out and make sure they are in good working order.

We hope this checklist will help you prevent problems and headaches this holiday season.  And if you do discover something that is broken, at least you can have it fixed at a convenient time which saves stress and often money.