How to Protect Your Plumbing From Holiday Horrors

Holiday dinners and the days after -- Black Friday in particular -- make this a busy and lucrative season for plumbers. Don't be among their customers.

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 may cause some problems in the bathroom, it is major meal preparation that makes the kitchen the site of most plumbing problems. The company says its kitchen calls generally jump 50 percent on the day after Thanksgiving.

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

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 the turkey or going elbow-to-elbow with other people 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 these things 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, the only thing that should go down the toilet — other than what comes from your body — should be toilet paper. That means cotton balls, swabs, cleansing cloths, dental floss and similar items need to go into the trash, not get flushed away. (This includes wipes that are labeled “flushable.” Don’t believe it.)

2. Keep drains clear through the holidays

Next, 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 the dishes there. If you do use your garbage disposal, start the water and disposal first before emptying plates of food 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. 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 the 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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