Now that we’re moving into the holiday season, with plenty of feasting and family get-togethers at our homes, potential disasters await us at every turn. Now that sounds rather negative, but let’s face it — there are plenty of places for disasters to befall us when we least expect it.
Family feasting puts a whole lot of extra pressure on your already hard-working appliances and fixtures. A lot of it has to do with all the extra food-related waste going down the kitchen sink.
To avoid plugging your kitchen sink, remember these important tips:
• Not everything can go down the disposal all at once. Gradually feed your garbage disposal food so it can easily “digest” everything.
• Don’t feed your garbage disposal the wrong foods, including pastas and rice, which expand in water and clog your drains; fibrous veggies like celery, potatoes, carrots, corn husks; bones, which will ding or break your disposal’s blades, and egg shells, which will clog your drain when several are mashed up together. When it doubt, throw it out.
• Don’t pour grease down your sink. Grease, oils and fats will harden in your drain and clog it. Instead, wipe down the pan with a paper towel, then wash the pan off, or pour excess grease into a can or bowl and let it harden, then dispose of it.
• Keep water running as you use your garbage disposal, to aid in “digestion.”
Bathroom plumbing also gets a workout during the holidays. Make sure that unflushable items like feminine sanitary products, facial cleansing pads, wipes and cotton balls get thrown away, not flushed away.
Consider making a cute sign that reads:
“Only toilet paper gets flushed, anything else will clog the drain.”
All the lights, decorations and extra company using hair dryers and more can put a strain on your home’s electricity, and make your house a fire hazard. Here are a few ways to keep your home safe this holiday:
• Don’t overload electrical outlets; plug in only one high-wattage appliance into each outlet.
• Use battery-operated candles rather than traditional candles
• Keep surge protectors and cords out of sight.
• Turn off all decorations at night. Also, make sure every electrical cord or outlet you’re using outside is covered to protect them against the weather.
• Never use indoor lighting outdoors. Buy UL-listed lights to remind you about proper usage.
• Keep your live Christmas tree fresh by watering it daily and if you’re using an artificial tree, make sure the label says “fire resistant.” Place your tree at least 3 feet away from all heat sources.
• Stay in your kitchen while cooking. Use the back burners on your cooktop when possible. Make sure children are at least 3 feet away from cooking appliances.
• Have a working fire extinguisher easily accessible and make sure all smoke alarms are working properly, especially in your kitchen and bedrooms.
• Hang lights with care and don’t pierce the cords with staples or nails. Don’t wrap lights around hot electrical appliances, including TVs, heaters or vents.
Snuggling by a cozy fireplace is fun when it’s your choice, but not so much when you have a broken furnace and are trying to stay warm. A few minor preventive maintenance tasks will lessen the likelihood that you’ll have a major furnace blowup during the holidays.
• Have a preventive maintenance service performed by a qualified professional before the cold weather starts.
• Replace your filters monthly.
• Consider a warranty plan, which will put you on the top of the list for any service calls, including emergency service.
It takes a lot of organization to prepare a holiday feast, whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas. Is your oven up to the task, or is it a recipe for disaster?
• Check your oven for reliability before the holiday.
• Avoid running the self-clean cycle in the two weeks leading up to your holiday feast, because that’s when many ovens experience problems requiring expensive repairs.
• Consider using small appliances like slow cookers, roasters and microwaves to expand your cooking capabilities and save energy. You can also bake several dishes at a time.
If your oven or another appliance does stop working on the holiday, you’ll have to choose whether to have an expensive repair bill from an appliance repairman or replace your current appliance. Your decision will likely depend on how old your appliance is — if it’s a decade or so old, you should start saving for a new appliance.