So, you’re anticipating out-of-town guests for the holidays, and you’ve got friends and family who live close by coming over, too. It must be holiday season, and while it’s a joyful time of the year, it’s also one of the most taxing for your home’s plumbing.

Make sure your plumbing is ready for the busy weeks ahead with the tips below. With a little planning, you can focus your attention on the things that matter the most – spending time with loved ones.

Do a thorough cleaning. This isn’t just to make everything look great, but to help the bathroom and kitchen fixtures work great, too. We recommend using a vinegar and water solution to clean everything from your kitchen faucets to your shower heads.
That’s because the vinegar will remove any build up, which then allows water to flow freer. Of course, we know vinegar isn’t a favorite smell, but you can always follow the cleaning with a lighted candle or open a window.

Protect the drains. Your plumbing is going to work overtime if guests are over using sinks, tubs and showers, and that means drains will be prone to build up. Invest in inexpensive drain strainers to catch things like hair to prevent clogs in the bathroom.

Protect kitchen drains by not pouring cooking oils and grease down them. Instead, pour the grease or other fat substance in an aluminum can, wait until the fat has hardened, and then throw away. You can also help your drain (and garbage disposal) by not putting bones, vegetable rinds, and anything else that’s fibrous down them.

Add extra garbage bins.  In the kitchen, have an extra garbage bin around for those bones and rinds so you can save the disposal. And in the bathroom, make sure there’s an extra garbage bin on hand so your guests aren’t tempted to flush items down the toilet or the sink.

Change the toilet flapper. The flapper is a hard-working is a plug-like device located at the bottom of the tank that is prone to malfunctioning and breaking from overuse, which can cause leaks that can lead to higher water bills. Since the toilet will be working overtime during the holidays, why not check the toilet flapper and fix by purchasing a new one at a home improvement store, or by calling a professional plumber?

Check the hot water heater. It would be a real disappointment to leave your guests lukewarm water for showers. Avoid that by doing a thorough check of your hot water heater before they arrive. Look to see if there are any leaks coming from the base or anywhere else. If there are, contact a professional plumber for a repair.

Consider turning the hot water heater up as high as it can go (not to exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit), and remember to turn it down when your guests leave. And, if you’re worried you don’t have a large enough hot water heater for guests, perhaps it’s time to invest in a tankless hot water heater. Now that’s a nice gift!

Know your home’s plumbing. In the event of a major leak, you’ll need to know where your home’s shut off valves are located. Also, make sure you have plungers, snakes and the phone number of a professional plumber on hand in case you need extra help.

By following these quick tips, you’ll be able to rest easy while your plumbing works hard. That way, you can enjoy the fun ahead.

So, you’re buying a new home. Before you make it official, it’s important to take a look at your potential new home’s plumbing. Doing this before you buy can save you lots of money (and a few headaches) in the future.

To help you streamline the process, we’ve created a list of the most important plumbing features to check before booking that moving truck.

Faucets and sinks 
First, turn on every faucet in the house to make sure the water runs quickly and drains quickly, too. This will give you an idea of how well the water pressure is in the home and if there are drain issues that will need to be repaired. We recommend having a plumber take a look. Don’t rely on a bottle of drain opener to fix the problem. Have it fixed right — and permanently – before you buy.

Next, look around the faucets and at the base and installation points of the sink to see if there are any leaks. These, too, can be costly in the long run, so the leaks should be repaired by a professional right away.

Water heater
If possible, get a full history of the home’s plumbing, including repairs and updates, from the current owner or the realtor. It’s especially helpful to know the age of the water heater, which can usually be found on the heater itself. Generally, water heaters should be replaced every 10-12 years.

Check the water heater for any leaks around the inlet, outlet valves and the heater’s base. Listen for any noises when you turn the water heater on and check to see if you find any rust on the tank.

You can also turn on the faucet and check to see if there is any rust colored water that runs. If you notice any of these signs, have a plumber check to see if the water heater needs to be replaced or repaired.

Main sewer drain 
Avoid one of the most costly and extensive repairs by hiring a plumbing professional to check the main sewer drain. We recommend this especially if the home you’re considering buying is older.

Age and tree roots that grow under the home’s foundation are two of the main culprits of sewer drain breaks. However, the best way to tell if the drain need repaired is with a camera inspection performed by a professional plumber.

Sump pump
If the sump pump in the home you’re planning to buy isn’t working properly and needs to be replaced or repaired it can cause a flooded basement. This can lead to costly repairs and is liable to cause damage to the property in the basement, too.

Before you buy, ask the current home owner or realtor if the basement has ever flooded. If it has and they haven’t investigated to find out why, you’ll want to hire a plumber to examine the condition of the sump pump.

Water meter 
When you’re looking at the house, turn off the water meter to test the shut off valve. If you notice water coming out of the spouts, you’ll need to have the valve checked out. It may need to be repaired or replaced.

Don’t let plumbing concerns take the joy out of homebuying.  With these tips, you can be sure that if all are in working order, you’ve found a great house to call home.