Holidays are a great time to get together with friends and family. Holiday parties and overnight guests, however, mean a potential strain on your heating and plumbing systems. Below are some helpful tips to keep your home running smoothly and safely this holiday season so that you can relax and enjoy the festivities!
- Never put stringy, gristly, hard-to-grind waste into the garbage disposal (potato peels, pumpkin pulp, poultry skins, carrots, celery, or banana peels). Disposals can’t effectively grind these items and they will clog your sink.
- Avoid pouring any fats or cooking oils down the drain. These liquids solidify in the pipes and create clogs. Also you should wipe congealed grease from pots.
- Run cold water down the drain for 15 seconds before and after using the garbage disposal to flush waste down the main line.
- Make sure your disposal is running before adding food waste.
- Spread showers out throughout the day. It helps if you wait 10 minutes between showers rather than taking one right after another.
- If the water pressure from your showerhead is weak, try pouring a cup of vinegar into a plastic bag, place it over the showerhead, and soak. Use a twist tie to hold it in place overnight. In the morning, remove the bag and use an old toothbrush to gently scrub off the mineral deposits to help restore water flow.
- For those unforeseen emergencies, like a clogged sink, water heater failure, or water leak in your home, keep your plumber’s number handy!
- Have your furnace serviced annually. A maintained furnace runs more efficiently and safely, providing you peace of mind during this busy holiday season.
- Consider adding a furnace humidifier this winter. A 68-degree home with some moisture may actually feel warmer than a 72-degree home with dry air.
- Lock your windows. This ensures the tightest seal to keep warm air in and cold air out.
- Replace furnace filters. This should be done at least every few months (more often during high usage seasons, like winter and summer). Note: Clogged furnace filters lower your heater’s efficiency!
- Use ceiling fans to your advantage. Fans are not just for summer; you can use them on “reverse” to push warm air down from the ceiling.
- Seal any gaps. Gaps and cracks can show up all over your home: between brick and wood siding, around windows and doors, in the attic and near the chimney. Identify any gaps and then seal them with weather stripping or other sealants.
- Keep your chimney damper closed when not in use. An open damper will allow the warm air in your home to escape up the chimney.
- Use rugs under doors. Rolling up a small rug and placing it under your door will help to insulate the room.
- Don’t rely on portable heaters. Keeping your home overly cool and relying on small portable heaters to keep you warm is not likely to save you money in the long run according to experts and can also be dangerous. “Space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for one-third (32%) of home heating fires and four out of five (82%) of home heating fire deaths.”*
- Lastly, for those of you (like myself) who are very familiar with Murphy’s Law, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”, you know that unplanned surprises usually hit at the worst time (like when you are expecting a house full of guests!) For surprises like your furnace breaking down, keep the contact information for your heating technician close by.
*NFPA’s “Home Fires Involving Heating Equipment” report by John R. Hall, Jr., September 2010.