Plumbers: Holidays prone to problems; preventative tips may help

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - There's nothing like getting a backed up garbage disposal, a clogged toilet or a water leak right in the middle of your Christmas celebration with family and friends.

Local plumbers say there are some things you can do to that might help prevent a Christmas catastrophe.

One – putting ice down your garbage disposal. Yes, ice. You may have already heard of the trick, but plumbers say it doesn't hurt to crush cubes through the blades.

"It grinds it up and cleans it," said Stephen Rowe, plumbing manager of Roto Rooter in Columbia. "Even if you were to overload it, the ice will melt."

According to Rowe, a malfunctioning garbage disposal is often a headache of the holidays. He says avoid putting foods like celery, carrot peels, potato peels, grease and bones in the disposal.

"Generally the garbage disposal takes on small quantities," said Rowe. "All of a sudden during the holidays, we put a lot more in there."

Plumbers say if your disposal gets overloaded and stops working, it's worth trying to push the reset button which is usually under the sink. Rowe adds to always run water while the disposal is on and to never stick your hand in the drain.

"A disposal usually has a thermal switch that will shut off before it burns up the motor," said Rowe. "All it needs is to be cleared out or reset and then your back to work," said Rowe.

Plumbers say if your reset button doesn't work, it may be time to call for help. They add their emergency call volume can rise by up to 40 percent on or right after a major holiday.

"You have a house full of guests taking shower after shower without the recovery time in between," said Andrea Rowe with Roto Rooter. "Back-ups or slow downs that were livable before all of a sudden need a lot help and attention immediately."

Other local plumbers like Josh Daniels, Vice President of Franklin D. Plumbing and Gas Services agree. He adds an easy fix is regular maintenance.

"Flush all of your toilets, drain all of your bathtubs and sinks and make sure everything is running clear," said Daniels.

Plumbers say it's not a bad idea to run water and flush toilets in the bathrooms you don't normally use, so it's not a shock to the water system with guests in the house.

"If things are slowing down, one of the things you can do is clean your shower head with vinegar to avoid the sediment," said Rowe.

Of course, if you're having little ones to your house for the holidays, plumbers say hide the smaller objects in the bathroom.

"Two-year-olds love the toilet and love to flush it," said Rowe. He suggests even removing items like toothpaste from your counter tops because he says he has seen all kinds of things cause a backup.

In addition to checking things over and taking preventative care measures, some plumbing service companies say they do offer no cost inspections. They say they'll try to identify your plumbing needs before they become plumbing disasters right in the middle of your holiday celebration.

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