Plumbing Tips For a Worry-Free Holiday

During the holiday season, our homes often become the hub for family and friends, but all the hustle and bustle of family gatherings and holiday parties can put a strain on your plumbing. There’s nothing worse than running out of hot water mid-shower when all the cousins are in town or a toilet getting stopped up before the ball even drops on New Year’s Eve. To avoid the issues and have a worry-free holiday remember these plumbing tips…

1. Go Easy on Your Sink

Coming together with family and friends to enjoy a holiday meal is one of the staples of the season. With Aunt Abby’s fruit cake, Uncle Tim’s ham, Grandma’s fudge and all the food in-between it’s almost impossible to clear your plate and you are bound to have some scraps. Avoid a clogged drain and an over-worked/ill-performing garbage disposal by throwing your food scraps into the regular trash and NEVER pouring grease, oil or fat down the drain.

2. Don’t Run Out of Hot Water

If you have a lot of holiday guests using your shower, your hot water could run out pretty quickly. To avoid running out of hot water mid-shower, turn up your water heater to increase its capacity to meet holiday house guest demands (we suggest not exceeding 125ºF). Spacing out the times people shower and allowing the hot water tank enough time to heat up between uses will also help ensure that everyone has plenty of hot water.

If the lack of hot water isn’t just a holiday issue, consider switching to a tankless water heater that will heat water as it is used to make things more convenient. Bonus: you won’t have to worry about running out of hot water for countless holiday seasons to come!

3. Prevent Frozen Pipes

Fitting pipes with insulation, either in sleeve form or wrapping, can help prevent them from freezing. Keeping interior cabinet doors open can also help keep your pipes warm. Pipes are often located in cabinets. When the temperatures drop, it is a good idea to keep these cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of the house can keep the pipes warm as well.

If you are afraid a pipe will freeze on a bitter cold night, it is also a good precaution to allow your faucet to drip slightly. Allowing the faucet to drip will relieve pressure in the system. If a pipe does become frozen, it is the pressure that is created between the blockage and the faucet that will cause the pipe to burst. Allowing the faucet to drip will prevent this pressure from building up and thus, keep the pipe from bursting.

4. Prevent Clogged Toilets

If your toilet already seems to have a slow or weak flush, this can indicate that a clog is forming in your toilet drain. Instead of waiting until your home is filled with holiday guests and your toilet won’t flush at all, go ahead and take care of the problem (just call us). It is also a good idea to remind your holiday guests to ONLY put toilet paper in the bowl. Flushing facial tissues, wipes, napkins, paper towels, floss, coffee grounds, hair, feminine hygiene products, grease and other fats or oils, medications, plastic and diapers will only contribute to more clogging.

Remember these plumbing tips to avoid issues and have a worry-free holiday AND if a holiday plumbing emergency does occur, don’t forget that you can always call Eastern Plumbing we’re available 24/7 for any plumbing emergency!

Protect Pipes and Tankless Water Heaters From Freezing Temperatures

“Make sure to drip your faucets,” is a piece of advice we often hear from others when the temperatures begin to drop below the freezing mark. You’ll be happy to know these advice givers are right! Leaving your faucet open during cold weather will help prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting – which can lead to very expensive damages to your home. In addition to dripping your faucets, there are more ways to prevent winter from wreaking havoc on your plumbing system. Keep these tips in mind as things begin to cool down.

1. Keep Your Heat On

If you are leaving your home for an extended period of time, especially around the holiday season, or if you are looking to winterize your vacation home, be sure to keep the heat on. You do not have to set the temperature as high as you normally would if you were actually there, but keeping it set above 50° is advised. This should provide enough warmth to keep the water inside your pipes from freezing.

2. Open Cabinet Doors

You may not know this, but pipes are often located in the cabinets. As the temperature begins to reach the freezing point, it is a good idea to keep cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of your house can keep these pipes warm as well.

3. Use Domes on Outside Faucets

To reduce the likelihood of water pipes freezing and causing a costly leak, place an insulating dome or other covering on any outdoor faucet or spigot. You can purchase these inexpensive covers at your local hardware or home improvement store.

4. Insulate Your Pipes

It is important to insulate the pipes in your home’s attic, crawl space or other areas that may not have proper insulation. Fit your pipes with foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves to help decrease the chances of freezing.

5. Seal Cracks and Holes

While you are in the basement or attic insulating exposed pipes, take the time to look for any holes or cracks that may exist near pipes. Caulk any holes you see on both interior and exterior walls. By doing this you are helping to keep warm air in and cold air out. Remember that in severe cold, even the slightest hole can let enough cold air in to cause pipes to freeze.

Old Man Winter does not look kindly upon plumbing systems. In addition to protecting your pipes from freezing, you should also take measures to prevent your tankless water heater from freezing as well.

6. Insulate External Pipes

While tankless hot water heating systems contain freeze prevention heaters, the hot and cold water plumbing lines leading to and from the water heater do not. Protect these lines from freezing by insulating them with items such as pipe covers, solenoids or heat tape.

If your pipes or tankless water heater freezes despite taking these preventive measures, don’t panic. Just because your pipes are frozen does not mean they have already burst. If you turn the faucet on and nothing comes out, leave it turned on and contact Eastern Plumbing right away. We’re available 24/7 for any plumbing emergency.

Is It Time to Go Tankless?

Most homes have conventional tank water heaters, which store dozens of gallons of hot water and maintain a steady temperature so the water is ready when you need it. But there is another type of water heater — tankless – which heats water directly and on demand as it flows through your pipes.

Tankless water heaters offer several benefits, but it’s not the perfect fit for every home or situation. Read more to learn whether upgrading to a tankless water heater makes sense for you and your family.

The Pros of a Tankless Water Heater

The primary advantage of tankless over traditional water heaters is that they’re generally more energy efficient. If you compare Energy Guide stickers of the two types when shopping, or if you browse the data for models that have been certified by Energy Star, you’ll see the difference in estimated energy consumption.

Various models of tankless heaters have their own energy-saving features, but all of them save energy by not storing hot water. With a conventional water heater, stored hot water is constantly cooling which requires frequent re-heating. A tankless heater uses virtually no energy when hot water isn’t being used. And those energy savings could make a big difference in your monthly utility bills.

Tankless heaters also offer these benefits:

  • Their compact size. Tankless heaters are about the size of a briefcase, expanding your range of installation locations and freeing up storage space.
  • Longer lifespan. With the proper maintenance, many tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years.
  • Home value. If you sell your home, the savings potential of a tankless water heater can boost your asking price.

When is Tankless a Bad Fit?

Tankless water heaters will save you money over the long haul, but the upfront cost is quite a bit higher than most conventional water heaters. Not only is the heater itself more expensive, the installation process is typically more as well. And, installing a tankless water heater is not a Do-It-Yourself project. If you’re considering upgrading to a tankless water heater, get an accurate quote so you can calculate whether the long-term savings justify the higher upfront costs.

Just like conventional water heaters, tankless heaters should be sized to the water needs of the household. Each tankless installation should be sized based on the number of fixtures in the house (which use hot water) and the number of occupants can sometimes be a factor. Incoming water temperature should also be considered when choosing the type and number of tankless units which may be required. Each tankless has a specific amount of hot water which it can supply. In the winter the incoming water is colder, which means the tankless will have to raise the temperature more than it would in the summer. Therefore the amount of hot water it can provide will be decreased. Make sure that the tankless water heater or heaters have been properly sized.

Another similarity between the two water heaters is that it always takes at least a few seconds for hot water to reach the faucet. However, with tankless heaters, this delay can be a little longer, resulting in more water waste. This will depend on how close the heater is to the hot water faucet — if your kitchen and master bath are located close together, you’ll ideally install the tankless heater in that area. Some tankless models also offer circulating systems which will decrease wait time.

To get a custom quote and consultation for a tankless water heater upgrade, or for any other plumbing service, call Eastern Plumbing today.