A plumbing disaster can ruin your holiday season; here's how to avoid one

A plumbing disaster could ruin your holidays, especially if you have family or friends crowding your house.

The best way to avoid one is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

"Check or have your toilet checked out prior to the busy holiday season before you have any family or friends over," says plumber Russell Hertaus.  "Make sure that it's operating properly and that in its self will help you avoid a disaster."

Any easy way to see if your toilet is leaking is to add a little food coloring to your toilet tank and leave it overnight.

"In the morning when you wake up without anyone using the toilet over night see if that color has appeared in the bowl of the toilet if that is the case that means that your flapper is leaking," says Hertaus.

And make sure you clean the bowl afterwards so it doesn't stain.

If you run into a clogged toilet, don't panic.  Instead, grab a plunger.  Turn off the water valve and make sure there is some water in the bowl.  If there isn't enough, add some until it comes about halfway up the rubber cap of the plunger.

The best way to avoid a clogged toilet is to avoid flushing items that are likely to cause a blockage.  The most common offenders are excess toilet paper, baby wipes and toys.

When you do need a plumber , it's usually in an emergency, which could lead to more headaches if you haven't checked the plumber out before hiring.

"The key here is to build a relationship with a plumber ahead of time so that you can check them out and feel like you have a good relationship and you can trust their advice, says Angie Hicks of Angie's List .  "That way you are not picking in an emergency situation."

You'll want to choose a plumber who is reliable and has a great reputation.  There's no better place to get a recommendation than from a friend or relative.

Here are some other tips from Angie's List for hiring a plumber:

·    Experience:  Choosing a less experienced plumber can result in a lower cost, but saving money doesn't always mean saving money. If the job isn't done properly the first time you could end up paying someone to come back and fix the problem again later and have an even bigger mess on your hands. Choose a plumber that's been in business at least five to 10 years.

·    Ask about rates:  Plumbers will either charge by the hour or job. Plumbers tell Angie's List that the average hourly service charge ranges from $70-$160. For weekend or after hour calls, expect to pay time and a half. Obtain two to three estimates before hiring.

·    Licensed and Insured?  All states with the exception of Kansas, Missouri, New York, Ohio and Wyoming require plumbers to be licensed. Check that the license is current and look to see if there are any complaints against the license. Any plumber you hire should have liability insurance and a current workers' compensation policy.

·    Once you find a good plumber, keep him/her:  Understand that not all plumbers accept emergency, weekend or holiday calls. It may be wise to know which do before an emergency. Once you find a plumber you are satisfied with, keep his/her number handy in your cell phone.

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