The holidays are fast approaching, and you may have several guests coming over the course of the next few months. Hosting is hard enough without having to deal with a plumbing or HVAC emergency.
Get your festivities off to a good start when you follow these expert plumbing and heating tips for your home from HELP Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Drains.
Ensure a pleasant, emergency-free holiday at your home this year by contacting HELP for a plumbing and heating cleaning and tune-up.
Preparing Your Heater
Your guests won’t feel comfortable in your home if your heater isn’t working properly. The best way to make sure there are no HVAC problems this holiday season is by scheduling a professional heating tune-up and cleaning. Sign up for the HELP Club so you never have to remember to schedule another HVAC or plumbing tune-up again. Plus, you’ll receive priority service, exclusive discounts, and much more.
Your HVAC technician will examine your heater for common problems like:
- Clogged air filters or burners
- A broken ignition or pilot
- A broken thermostat
- Ventilation problems
An HVAC technician can address these problems and get your heater working again.
Also, consider that each guest may have a unique temperature preference. For example, maybe Grandma June likes to stay toasty warm but Aunt Mary wants to sleep in a cool room. Consider purchasing a zone temperature control heater, which allows you to set different rooms in the home to different temperatures. You can also install a ductless mini-split system for zone control.
If you’ve already scheduled your heating tune-up for the season, follow these DIY procedures for preparing your heating system for guests:
- Clean or replace the air filter – A clogged air filter will restrict airflow and worsen indoor air quality. It could even shut down the system if it gets clogged enough.
- Clear area around indoor air handler – Make sure there is nothing flammable near your indoor air handler. Keep a minimum 3-foot clearance around the unit so air can circulate freely.
- Keep vents and registers clean and clear – Go around your home and make sure no air vents or registers are closed or blocked. This helps prevent duct leaks and keeps the air flowing where it needs to.
- Consult the owner’s manual – The owner’s manual will tell you about basic maintenance and provide some troubleshooting tips if the heat stops working.
Don’t let a furnace or heating issue ruin the holidays. If you do have any heating problems, remember that HELP Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Drains is available 24/7, holidays included!
Preparing Your Water Heater
With more people in the home, your water heater needs to work harder to supply everyone’s hot water needs. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have a certified technician check your water heater to make sure it’s ready for the increased workload.
Your technician can catch common problems like:
- A broken heating element
- Debris buildup
- Leaks and weak spots
- Excessive sediment buildup
If your water heater can’t keep up with your family and guests’ water needs, you may want to consider purchasing a new water heater.
Your best bet is to choose a storage tank water heater with a larger tank. Tankless water heaters heat water on demand, but they only provide about 3.5 gallons of water per minute. They can’t always support two uses of hot water at one time, so they may not allow Uncle Albert to shower while you’re washing the dishes. Some homeowners work around this problem by installing two tankless units.
Contact the licensed and insured professionals at HELP to inspect your water heater before the holidays. We’ll ensure a properly working water heater for you and your guests.
Cleaning Your Air and Water
Air and water quality is always important, but especially so when you have guests. Some of your guests may have allergies, respiratory problems, or other health conditions that make clean air and water even more critical.
One way to keep your home’s air clean is to replace your heater’s filters every 1-3 months. Make sure to do so before your guests arrive.
You could also purchase appliances that improve the air quality of your home. A humidifier puts moisture back into the air, helping reduce the effects of dry winter weather. An air purifier removes contaminants from the air, helping people with allergies and asthma breathe easier.
While there are portable humidifiers and purifiers available, the best way to ensure healthy air is to install a whole-home solution. Whole-home humidifiers and purifiers are installed directly into the HVAC system so the whole house is covered, not just one room or small area.
Improving your water quality can also help your guests feel more comfortable. A water treatment system removes contaminants from your water and makes it safer to drink. It also makes food and drink taste better.
Additionally, a water softener removes hard minerals that make it more difficult to clean. Hard water causes homeowners to spend a lot more on soaps, shampoos, and detergents. Minerals also leave behind unsightly stains around drains and plumbing fixtures. A water softener will help your plumbing and appliances operate more efficiently.
Preparing Your Toilet
Your toilet is going to get a lot of use from your guests. In fact, the day after Thanksgiving is known as “Brown Friday” for plumbers. It’s often the busiest day of the year for the plumbing industry.
Avoid an embarrassing plumbing moment by following these tips:
- Fix toilet problems before guests arrive – If you’ve been experiencing any toilet or plumbing problems, contact a professional to fix the issue before guests arrive. Learn how to fix a leaking toilet here.
- Clean the toilet and bathroom – This is probably a given, but make sure your bathroom and toilet are clean.
- Stock the bathroom with plenty of toilet paper – You don’t want to run the risk of running out of toilet paper. Keep it stocked and easily accessible for guests. Periodically check the bathrooms to make sure you have enough.
- Provide some kind of air freshener – Whether it’s Poo-Pourri, Febreze, matches, or candles, we highly recommend offering something to mask the odor. Try to find a product that doesn’t produce any strong fragrance or volatile organic compounds.
- Keep a trashcan visible and nearby – It’s important to have a trashcan in the bathroom so people aren’t tempted to flush things down the toilet. We recommend a trashcan with a secure lid, especially if there are pets around.
- Keep a proper plunger handy – While a simple cup-style plunger is good for flat drains like sinks and tubs, a flange-style plunger is much more effective for toilets. The plunger should be able to reach into the toilet drain. Traditional flange plungers work fine, but a “beehive” or “bellows-style” plunger will work better.
- Keep a toilet brush and toilet bowl cleaner handy – Your guests may want to clean up any streaks let behind. Make sure you have toilet bowl cleaner and a brush available for this purpose.
- Post a sign with instructions – Some people are used to flushing large quantities down the toilet, including paper towels and wet wipes. As a precautionary measure, remind your guests that the only things that should be flushed are toilet paper and human waste. Everything else goes in the garbage.
- Stock up on hand soap, hand lotion, and tissues – Soap is standard, but your guests may also enjoy lotion, tissues, and single-use dental floss.
- Hide medications and anything else you want to keep hidden – Do a sweep of your bathroom to make sure there is nothing in there that you don’t want accessible to children and other guests.
Preparing Your Garbage Disposal
When guests ask to help with clean up after meals, or want to help prepare meals, ask that nothing goes into the garbage disposal that can potential cause damage to your system. You may want to assign one or two people to handle all of the cleanup so nothing gets accidentally put down the garbage disposal.
Avoid sending grease, oil, and potentially damaging items like cornhusks, bones, or other hard to grind products down the garbage disposal. If you suspect your garbage disposal has a problem or appears to be running sluggishly or making strange noises, don’t use it until it has been inspected by a professional.
Learn more tips for maintaining a clog-free garbage disposal.
Preparing Your Drains
When you have guests using all the sinks in your home, the risk for clogs drastically increases. If you want to ensure no clogs or plumbing problems, contact the professional plumbers at HELP to clean your drains ahead of time.
One way to clear out a drain before your guests arrive is to pour ½ cup baking soda, ¼ cup white vinegar, and ½ cup salt in it. Let it sit for 15 minutes and then pour near-boiling water down the drain. If you have porcelain sinks, however, do not use boiling water as it could potentially crack it.
Unfortunately, a clog can still occur. While you can potentially clear a clog with a proper plunger or drain snake, sometimes the clog is too deep or resistant for this.
If your drain still has clogs, backups, or other problems, have a plumber address the issue. There could be a clog deep in the pipes that require special equipment to remove.
Luckily, if you live in the Cincinnati area, HELP Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Drains is available 24/7 for all your emergency plumbing needs.
These steps will help prepare your heating and plumbing systems for a sudden influx of guests. Address these problems now with a trained specialist’s help so you can relax during the holiday season.
Get HELP for the Holidays!
Hosting for the holidays? Whether you’re welcoming your grandmother, your distant cousins, or your adult children, you need to prepare your home for the sudden increase in occupants.
HELP Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Drains has been getting Cincinnati-area homes ready for the holidays for over 80 years. We provide high-quality HVAC and plumbing services to all of Cincinnati and the surrounding area, including north Kentucky and West Harrison, Indiana.
Our expert technicians are available 24/7 for emergency plumbing, heating, and cooling repair. But, don’t wait for a breakdown to give us a call! Schedule your heating and plumbing inspection today and relax knowing that everything is taken care of for the holidays.