How to Protect Your Plumbing From Holiday Horrors

Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year, but retailers and shoppers aren’t the only ones keeping busy after Thanksgiving.

Black Friday is also the single busiest day for residential plumbers, according to Roto-Rooter. While the volume of guests using showers and toilets often cause problems in the bathroom, it is the major meal preparation of the holiday that makes the kitchen the site of most plumbing problems.

The company says its kitchen calls generally jump 50% on the day after Thanksgiving.

Believe me: You don’t want yours to be one of the homes that needs a plumbing expert.

Here are three easy ways to avoid calling the plumber on Black Friday, so you can spend the day doing what you like to do — whether that is sleeping off all that turkey or going elbow-to-elbow with other shoppers for doorbuster deals.

1. Don’t put that down the drain!

Indoor plumbing is an amazing invention, and your kitchen sink can make cleanup a breeze. Pour in liquids or use the disposal to grind up scraps. Then, turn on the water, and it’s all magically swept away. That is, except when it gets stuck in the pipes.

Yes, the No. 1 culprit for plumbing problems after Thanksgiving is homeowners trying to use their sink or garbage disposal as a garbage can, resulting in clogged pipes.

Keep the water flowing smoothly by remembering that these things (many of them Thanksgiving staples) should never go down your sink, even if you run them through a garbage disposal:

  • Fats
  • Cooking oils
  • Potato and onion peels
  • Fibrous vegetables like celery and pumpkin
  • Bones
  • Skin from poultry

In the bathroom, remember that cotton balls, swabs, cleansing cloths, dental floss and similar items need to go into the trash, not get flushed down the toilet. This includes wipes that are labeled “flushable.” Don’t believe the hype. Toss ’em.

2. Keep drains clear through the holidays

If you are having visitors, be aware of the demands you are putting on your plumbing system.

Ask guests to wait 15 minutes between showers to allow time for the drains to clear. Also, make sure you have clean, empty trash receptacles in each bathroom so visitors won’t feel they have to flush something that they shouldn’t.

And, after dinner, when your guests are helping with cleanup, put a garbage bin (or compost bucket) front and center in the kitchen so everyone knows to scrape food waste from the dishes there. If you do use your garbage disposal, start the water and disposal first before emptying plates into the sink.

3. Fix slow drains right now

Finally, if your drains are running slow, they are probably already partially clogged and primed to cause a major holiday headache.

You may be able to clear partially clogged pipes on your own using a store-bought drain cleaner or a plumbing snake. However, if your drains continue to run slow, it may be time to call in the pros. Sure, it will cost a little money, but you’d better believe you’ll pay more if you need to make an emergency call on Thanksgiving evening or Black Friday.

So, clear out your drains now, use some common sense strategies on Thanksgiving Day and, for the love of all that is good in the world, don’t dump that grease from the deep-fried turkey down the drain.

Have you had a Thanksgiving plumbing nightmare? Tell us about it in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Ari Cetron contributed to this post.

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