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The holidays: A stress test for your home

Ahh, the holiday season, that grand stress test of family ties -- and home systems. A home that's just the right size normally can become downright jammed when loved ones visit for a few days. Around my house, it tends to be the time when things break -- often because of an unwise move on my part.

There was the one Christmas Eve when I called a plumber for a suddenly (and severely) clogged bathtub drain. After sawing a T-shaped cutout, several feet long, in the plaster ceiling in the kitchen, he announced that he could not fix it and left. My extended family all made do for several days with one functioning shower. That plumber has been banned from the premises.

There was a Christmastime kitchen-sink clog when I unwisely sent potato and carrot peels down the garbage disposal. Trust me, don't ever do that; the clog was halfway to the street.

One Christmas, when our home was being expanded, we were forced to store a 12-by-4-foot crate, three inches deep, in the living room. (It held our dining table.) I figured, if you can't hide it, decorate it. So I stapled greenery to the crate and propped it against the wall.

Scheduling showers is mandatory when overnight guests arrive. Normally, our 2 1/2-bath home is adequate for our family of four. Bring the headcount to seven or eight, though, and the scheduling gets tricky.

I'm not complaining, mind you. I enjoy hosting visitors. And the people who know and love me never seem all that surprised at a gaping hole above a room that's otherwise dressed up for a party. Anyway, I wouldn't want to rattle around every day in a house that's so big that it feels full only when it has twice as many occupants as usual.

I'm learning -- too often the hard way -- how to head off problems: Check all plumbing a week or two before guests arrive. Make room in the closets. Buy extra hangers. Get all the laundry done and out of the way to cut down demand for hot water. And don't even think of putting vegetable peels down a disposal.

The (After the Big) Weekend Poll

This is a non-scientific user poll. Results are not statistically valid and cannot be assumed to reflect the views of Washington Post users as a group or the general population.

By Elizabeth Razzi  |  December 1, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Fortress Home , Funny , Home features , Poll , Remodeling and repair , Weekend Poll  
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Most of our relatives live in small towns in the Mid-west and don't understand that we in DC can't afford to keep a spare bedroom or two. What little room we have has to function as an office, storage space, place for the pet's bed, etc.

I guess we get a lot fewer guests that way, but we have to go the hotel route when we have company.

Posted by: sarahabc | December 2, 2009 7:36 AM | Report abuse

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