MAINTENANCE Going with flow of holiday's plumbing
The last thing a host needs is a sink or toilet problem when revelers arrive.
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
During the holidays, guests come calling. We eat, drink and be merry.
But with extra people in the house, sometimes there's a strain placed on the, um, facilities.
And there can be troubles in the kitchen as well. Some visitors are used to garbage disposals in their own homes, so they unknowingly shove things down a host's kitchen sink.
Professional plumbers say to beware of common problems this time of year. To help prevent clogged toilets and backed-up sinks, they leaked some tips that may keep your money from going down the drain:
UIf you clean out your fridge to make room for holiday leftovers, throw the food away the day before trash goes out. "We've had people decide to clean out their freezer and put things down the drain for 30 and 40 minutes," said Chris Sandmoen, owner of About Town Plumbing and Heating in Kansas City, Mo.
UBefore guests arrive, make sure the sinks, toilets and tubs are working well. "Usually over the holidays, people have extra guests over to the house, particularly empty-nesters who haven't had guests over since last year's holidays," said Doug Stine of Quality Plumbing in North Kansas City. Dry rotting of the rubber in faucets and toilets can be avoided by using them throughout the year.
UStine says to run the disposal until you stop hearing the food churning. He also said to be sure to keep water running for a few minutes after the food has been ground in the disposal, and make it cold water. Hot water makes fat liquid, causing it to coat drain pipes.
UAvoid putting potato peels down the drain. "They will expand with water," Stine said, "and turn into a nice big obstruction about halfway down the line."
UNever put grease, turkey drippings or gravy down the drain. "Grease is what we see the most of for clogging up the sink," Sandmoen said. He recommends that people pour grease into a container, put it in the fridge so that it solidifies, and then throw it out in the trash.
UMake sure kids in the house are supervised. Sandmoen has seen tykes test the waters. Toothbrushes, toy dinosaurs and cars are a few items he's seen caught in toilets.
UIf your teeth are removable, take them out before drinking large amounts of alcohol. "We get a lot of false teeth falling down the stools," said Jim Daniel of the Plumbing Pro in Grandview, Mo. He says people lose theirs while vomiting. "Usually they'll flush ... before they realize it."
ULet guests know that toilets are not garbage cans. "Female products, diapers and things listed as disposable do not go down the toilet; they should go in the trash. And dental floss should not go down the toilet," Stine said. "We've pulled 8- and 10-feet ropes of dental floss out of the toilet that built up and built up."