Plumbing and heating: preparing your home for the holiday season


It’s true, the winter season is on its way. In just a couple of months, we’ll be wondering where summer went already. But with winter comes some of our favorite days of the year, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. 

And when it comes to the holidays, we here at Guin can’t stop thinking about one thing: that all those family meals and celebrations sure do take a toll on the house. 

Today, we’re going to talk about how to prepare your home for these holiday activities. With the family gathered around the fire, your house uses more water and heat. So let’s go over a few of the house’s most important utilities, and how you can gird them for increased usage. 

The holiday meal: how to prepare your plumbing

Most of the time, when we think about the holiday meal–whether it’s Thanksgiving dinner or the Christmas feast–we think about all the dishes and dinnerware we’re going to use, only to have to clean them all up once we’re finished. 

But the real strain is done on our houses’ plumbing systems. Let’s take a look at key features to watch out for–and how to be prepared for–the toll we take on our plumbing systems. 

Don’t put that down the disposal!

We’ve all let the disposal run without checking for that spoon or knife. Again, it isn’t just silverware (and other nonedibles) that we need to look out for. Here’s a quick checklist of foods to make sure that you throw out in the garbage–the regular garbage, that is:

  1. Potato skins: These tricky little peels might seem like great candidates for the disposal. But because they turn to starch in water, they can clog up your sink!
  2. Coffee grinds: Some of us love that post-meal coffee or espresso. It’s a great finish to an otherwise sleep-inducing Thanksgiving feast. But they’ll turn into turbid muck in your pipes. 
  3. Bones: This one might seem obvious, but there are a bunch of thin, frail bones that seem as if they’d simply grind into dust in the disposal. Don’t be fooled by appearances. If you dump a bunch of those twiggy bones into the disposal, you’ll be sorry you did!
  4. Eggshells: What’s Thanksgiving without a pumpkin pie? Tons of us will be baking come the holiday season. Just be sure you toss those eggshells in the trash. Funny enough, it’s not the shells as much as the remaining egg membranes that can gag up our disposals. 
  5. Pumpkin (and other fibrous foods): Speaking of pumpkin pie, watch out for that pumpkin too! Or anything that’s starchy or stringy. Fibrous foods will clog up the disposal as well. 

Surely there are plenty more examples of what to keep from your garbage disposal. The list above, however, should get you started. 

Prepare your bathrooms

Okay, so this isn’t exactly table talk–so make sure you take care of it before it becomes table talk! Making sure your plumbing is prepared will save you from a whole world of trouble when the family gathers for that holiday meal. 

Firstly, make sure you have a plunger handy. Your guests will be all too thankful should they require one. In the same vein, the holidays are a perfect time to add that auger to the bathroom lineup. Sometimes used interchangeably with the toilet snake, the toilet auger will be a miracle should the plunger fail to do the job. 

This is also a good time to make sure the toilet handle is working without issue. Your guests certainly don’t want to be caught in a situation they didn’t bargain for. 

Moving on, make sure your shower drains are covered. Everyone is going to want to get gussied up for the holiday dinner, be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years. Covering your drains with something that filters the water will save you a great deal of unsavory work when it comes time to clean up after guests. 

Make sure all the lights are working

Hanukkah is often referred to as the festival of lights. Though most of us celebrate Christmas, an ode to the holiday, let’s make sure we don’t have to rely on oil for nine days–especially when we’ve got guests in the house! 

There’s no better time to go through the house and make sure that each light is working. In fact, it’s the perfect time to get the electricity checked out as a whole. With the family hunkered in and the cold wind blowing outside, we want to make sure that no one will have to go lug a generator from their trunk. Better yet, how about installing that dimmer light, which imbues a perfect mood for post-dinner drinks and a movie. 

Schedule an appointment with one of Guin’s top electricians today. 

Sweep the heating system and water heater for any potential snags

It’s imperative to get the heating and water checked out prior to the holiday season. Let’s take a look at both and see what we can do to be prepared. 

Heating system checklist

As mentioned earlier, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the cold season. From there on out, we’ve got three to four months during which our heating systems will be put to the test. So it’s particularly important that we ensure that our heating system is ready. 

Since we did a blog (link last blog here when it’s up) on this one last time, we won’t go into too much detail. However, the last thing we want is for our heating system to dunk out on us right in the middle of Christmas dinner, with the wind chill down below freezing and everything closed through the day after tomorrow. 

As a quick review, let’s go over the checklist:

  1. Test your heating system’s thermostat: It’s crucial that the read on your thermostat matches that of the actual temperature in your house. If it’s off, your heating system might not be able to calibrate the air temp, or worse–there’s a host of issues that comes with a faulty thermostat.
  2. Clean the space around your furnace: If your heating system uses a furnace rather than a boiler, make sure the area around it is clear of any items. Any items left near the furnace are a fire hazard. 
  3. Replace old air filters: We’ve all seen an air filter left uncleaned for too long. What a desert of dust! Make sure you check your filters, as you don’t want your family breathing lint and mites during holiday dinners. 
  4. Caulk up any cracks in the house: Go around your house and check for any seepage from outside. Use caulk for tile or metal, and weather stripping for wood surfaces such as window frames. 
  5. Call on GuinGuard for a checkup: It’s always a good idea to give us a call to schedule an appointment. You can rest assured that, when we’re done casing the house, no apertures or cracks will remain. But remember, with the GuinGuard program, you get regularly scheduled maintenance for situations exactly such as those of the holidays’.

Water heater checklist

Maintaining your water heater can seem like a foreign concept. In reality, it’s integral to your heating system, and must be maintained regularly. Use these tried and true tricks to make sure that your water heater is working properly:

  1. Wear the proper attire: Safety comes first. Be sure to wear gloves and goggles when undertaking water heater maintenance.
  2. Check the valve: Referred to as the Temperature Pressure Release (TPR), by shutting off the water heater and lifting the valve, you should see a little bit of water come out. If the water keeps running, it’s time to switch out the valve.
  3. Check for sediment: Drain the remaining water in the system. Then mix the water on the tank’s bottom by briefly opening the supply valve. Repeat this process until the hose releases only clean water.
  4. Turn down the temperature when away: The next time you and the family plan on being away from the house for a few days or more, turn the heat down to the lowest setting. 

The above checklist is far from exhaustive and requires a thorough understanding prior to its undertaking. We sincerely advise that you contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our professionals, who have years of experience in water heater maintenance and repair. 

In fact, if you haven’t engaged in any of the suggestions mentioned above, we would be more than happy to set you up with the GuinGuard program. This regular maintenance and repair package will save you a great deal of money in the long run by virtue of dealing with household issues before they become serious. 

Contact Guin Service, LLC, serving Birmingham, Hoover, and Mountain Brook, AL, to prepare your home for the holiday season. We’ve been in business for 60 years because we do what’s right for our customers. You can always trust us to be honest and have your best interest in mind. Just give us a call today at 205.407.1737.