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How to Avoid Holiday HVAC and Plumbing Problems

The holiday season is here — which means it’s time to break out the tree, create your gift-giving list, and string up the lights outside. And although this is deemed to be “the most wonderful time of the year,” sadly, it can mean the complete opposite for your home’s plumbing and HVAC systems; they can be put to the ultimate test and potentially fail when you least expect it.

Before putting up another strand of garland, here are some common HVAC and plumbing scenarios (and tips) to keep in mind:

Plumbing

While this year’s holiday season may look a tad different for many families across the globe, there is still a chance that you may be expecting some visitors to stop by. That said, this means that your bathroom and kitchen plumbing will most likely get more use than usual.

Before leaving room for potential error, get ahead of common plumbing issues with some easy tips:

Drains

As it’s known, there are a series of drains located throughout your humble abode. These play a crucial part in your home’s plumbing since they’re the only way for wastewater to exit your living space and be transported to the sewer line. Knowing this, it’s vital to keep drains clean at all times to prevent any potential clogs or long-term damage.

Here are some helpful preventative measures to keep top of mind:

Preventative Maintenance

Regardless of the time of year, you should pay very close attention to what goes down your drains — especially in the kitchen. For instance, you shouldn’t toss any items that could clog or corrode your drains.

To help lessen the chance of a drain-related problem, it’s wise to run a hot stream of water (between 10-30 seconds in duration) after using your drain or garbage disposal. This will help ensure that any unwanted substances have an easier chance of being flushed through the pipes.

On the other hand, there are some items that hot water won’t be able to ease down the drainpipe and should only be tossed into a nearby trash can. Some of those items include, but are not limited to:

  • Coffee grounds

  • Grease

  • Eggshells

  • Fats

  • Oils

  • Produce stickers

  • Sanitary wipes

  • Pasta

  • Rice

  • Hair

  • Kitty litter

  • Candle wax, and more.

Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning your drains, avoid using chemical drain cleaners. These chemically-crafted plumbing mixtures can corrode your plumbing pipes, as well as be harmful to your respiratory health.

If you want to try unclogging a drain yourself, try a more natural solution — such as baking soda and vinegar or boiling water.

Typically, DIY drain cleaning solutions don’t do the trick because the issue is more profound than a simple clog and could be deeper in the pipe. For a professional drain cleaning, call the experts at AWS Plumbing, Heating & Cooling. They have advanced tools to get your pipes clean and clear without causing irreversible damage.

Toilets

Fact: toilets can be rather problematic when you least expect them to be — especially during the holiday season. And, more often than not, a simple plunger won’t be able to clear the clog entirely — but it’s a good starting point!

As it turns out, clogs are typically caused by either too much toilet paper being flushed, non-flushable items being disposed of, or kids’ toys accidentally going down the "throne.”

This holiday season, and throughout the year, kindly remind your loved ones what can and cannot be flushed. Some items that should never be disposed of down the “porcelain chair” include:

  • Paper towels

  • Feminine hygiene products

  • Hair

  • Kitty litter

  • “Flushable” wipes

  • Grease

  • Keys

  • Cigarettes

Of course, if you need to dispose of these items (or others that cannot be flushed), consider placing a wastebasket in your restroom near the toilet.

Leak Detection

A burst pipe or a water leak can be a huge inconvenience, especially during a small holiday gathering. From behind a wall to under the sink, no space is off limited from enduring irreversible water damage. However, there is one leak that tends to go under the radar — cue a slab leak.

While it may be rather tricky to identify at first, here are some common signs to be on the lookout for if you encounter this type of leak:

  • You hear the sound of water running or trickling behind walls

  • Damp spots or puddles are randomly appearing in your basement

  • Patches of mold pop up in the basement

  • Your water bills increase with no logical explanation

  • The lawn seems to be damp or spongy around your house

Plumbing Emergencies

A plumbing emergency can be devastating, especially during “the most wonderful time of the year.”. A clogged toilet, burst pipe, backed-up drain, or leak can ruin your festive soiree and give you a headache.

If this happens to you, call your local emergency plumber right away. Also, it’s vital to know where the emergency shutoff valves are for your sinks, toilets, and water main in the event of a plumbing emergency.

HVAC

When cooler temperatures begin to arrive at your front door, your home’s heater will be used much more frequently. As a result, there’s a chance that your energy bills will begin to increase.

That said, it’s important to know how to care for — and efficiently use — your system so you can save money and help prevent potential problems down the road.

Maintenance and Repairs

Homeowners: If you haven’t scheduled an HVAC maintenance appointment, now is the perfect time to pick up the phone and book it — it’s never too late!

Sure, your HVAC system is not meant to last forever, but keeping up with annual tune-ups can help extend its lifespan. During an appointment, a professional HVAC technician will review your unit and will catch any causes for concern to prevent pricey repairs down the line. Furthermore, when you invest in your system with repairs and maintenance, it can maximize its efficiency.

The minute you discover a problem with your HVAC, do not wait until your next maintenance appointment.

Some common signs your unit needs is in need of repair include:

  • Strange sounds or smells

  • Blowing cold air when you requested heat

  • Frequently cycling off and on

  • A sudden spike in utility bill

Filters

Your HVAC filters are a significant contributor to system maintenance and acceptable indoor air quality. On average, you should be changing your filters at least every three months (minimum).

As it turns out, over time, dust and debris build up on your filter and make it difficult for air to pass through. When the filter is dirty, it hinders your unit’s airflow, making your system work much harder than it has to, increasing your energy bills in the process.

Additionally, installing new filters will help produce cleaner air for you and your family, helping improve your indoor air quality rather than diminish it.

Thermostat Settings

Repeat after us: Don’t just crank up your home’s temperature and expect instant results; this won’t increase the speed at which your humble abode gets warmer. In fact, the overall health of your furnace will play a key part in helping your living space reach the temperature you desire.

Typically, an average temperature range to help keep your home comfortable is between 67 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The larger the difference between the temperature outside versus the temperature inside, the more energy your system will use, and the higher your bill will be.

Additionally, you shouldn’t be turning your thermostat completely off, either — even when you leave the house. Powering it off takes more energy than just adjusting the settings by a few degrees. If you are worried about coming home to an uncomfortable house, look into investing in a smart thermostat (also known as a programmable thermostat) — most of which can be programmed using smartphones or tablets.

Snow Melt Systems

The snow is coming, and your home should be ready for whatever the winter brings to New York. Save yourself time and money and prevent accidents that may happen with snow and ice removal by having a snow melt system installed.

Snow melt systems can be used to eliminate the extensive labor of shoveling snow off driveways, sidewalks, steps, and patios. A homeowner can even use it in localized areas if they don’t want or need a complete cover.

Additionally, this system can prevent falling accidents, personal injury from extensive labor, and paying for removal. And, as an added perk, these systems can also be installed at commercial properties to reduce costs.

Radiant Heat Systems

When it’s cold outside, many of us stay inside where it’s warm and cozy. And one way to ensure comfort at home is through radiant heat systems.

These systems do not rely on air movement but rather increase the room surface-area temperatures to reduce heat loss through radiation. This is a low-cost option for heating, using warmth that already exists.

When it comes to any HVAC or plumbing systems for your home, our professionals are here to help with repairs or installation. We want to make sure your home is efficiently working to keep your holidays as cheerful as can be.

We hope you have a happy holiday season, and we will be here for all your HVAC and plumbing needs. If you have any questions, contact our experts at AWS Plumbing, Heating & Cooling by visiting us online or call us at (516) 217-2196.