The uproar of back to school schedule changes also means a morning rush that puts an extra strain on your plumbing system.  Not just in the bathroom but in the kitchen and laundry room as well.

Bathroom

The rush of everyone getting ready for the school day and work day can be hectic and a bit frustrating.  And running out of hot water for that shower you were looking forward to can be more than a little frustrating.  The water heater tank can only hold so much, and when that’s been used it takes a while to heat back up again.

Try and work out a schedule so that there’s about a 15 minute gap between showers.  That might mean adjusting wake-up times or having some family members shower at night.  Some might actually prefer that.  You could also put a 5-minute timer in the bathroom to avoid running out in the first place.  Or you could have a tankless water heater installed.  They heat up water as you use it so there’s never any running out.

Here’s a couple more hot-water conserving tips.

  • Use water conserving fixtures.  If the shower head is more than 5 years old there’s probably a lower-flow version now available.
  • Don’t leave hot water (or cold for that matter) running in the sink while brushing teeth.

And a couple more tips that can avoid disruptive problems.

  • Be sure all sink, tub, and shower drains have hair screens.  Clean them regularly, and pull out anything that’s made it past them.  The combination of soap scum and hair are one of the major causes of bathroom clogs.
  • Make sure the bathroom exhaust fan is working properly.  It’s critical in avoiding mold that can quickly grow into a big problem.

Kitchen

Preparing lunches first thing in the morning and fixing dinner after a long day at work, it’s easy to to get a bit careless with the garbage disposal.  So remember that it’s designed for table scraps, not vegetable peels or other prep work.  And never use it to dispose of bones, coffee grounds, egg shells, fibrous foods (especially celery, lettuce, onion peels, and potato peels), grease, pasta, or rice.  To deodorize a garbage disposal use a citrus oil or a half-cup of baking soda.

Preventing Other School Disruptions

With a busy school-year schedule there’s no room for unexpected problems.  So just before school starts is a good time for annual and semi-annual check ups for your plumbing system.  In particular….

  • Make it a point to check around for leaks.
  • Drain and flush your hot water heater.  That not only makes it more reliable and last longer, you should get more hot water in the bargain.
  • Washing machines are a major cause of home flooding.  Inspect the supply hoses and replace them at the first sign of cracking, bulging, or kinking.  Also make sure the drain is free-running with nothing to block or slow the flow.
  • Check, and if necessary clean, the dryer exhaust vent.  Clothes will dry faster and there’s less chance of a fire.
  • Considering the possibility of a leak or overflow, setting a dishwasher or clothes washer for a delayed start after everyone has left for the day isn’t such a good idea.  Better to dish washing and laundry in the evening and when cycles will be finished before bedtime.

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