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Fortunately, the winter season in Wisconsin doesn't require a lot of hands-on activity when it comes to plumbing. So, we'll take a look at the holiday season coming up. Consider grinding up some orange or lemon peels or even a handful of baking soda in your garbage disposal to absorb any odors and sweeten the air. Make sure you are still running the water for 10-15 seconds after shutting the garbage disposal off.

This season's coupon is aimed at avoiding the holiday plumbing mishaps and helping you be prepared for the arrival of houseguests.

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Test Your Heat Tape

It's a good idea (and cheaper than calling me) to check your heat tapes every year and replace them if you notice signs of deterioration.

Problems to look for include:

  • Visible signs of wear and tear
  • Discolored surfaces (especially at the plug)
  • Charring
  • Cuts or breaks in the insulation
  • Bare wires
  • Signs of moisture penetration (if the heat tape gets wet, the tape can malfunction)
  • No overlaps
  • Indicator light on (many types of heat tape have indicator lights near the plug to tell the homeowner it's time to change the tape)
  • Age of your heat tape 1

1 The Consumer Product Safety Commission in Document #5045 has determined that uncertified heat tape can cause fires. Replace old tape—if it is more than 3-years-old, it is very likely it is not safe. New heat tapes have 3-prong plugs. Look for an Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or a Factory Mutual Research Corporation (FMRC) label.

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Coupon for DR. PLUMBER's current customers gives 10% off drain cleaning to get ready for holiday guests


Surviving Winter

  • Do a visual check to ensure lights left burning to heat the air around pipes have not burnt out

  • Conduct your annual heat tape inspection

  • Check that your sump pump discharge is not going back under the ground; in winter, it should be running on the lawn to avoid freeze/thaw issues

  • If you haven't done your fall prep, see Fall 2010 for tips on prepping for winter

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