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Why Black Friday is plumbers' busiest day of the year

Plumbers say the day after Thanksgiving is their busiest of the year. Here's how you can avoid becoming a customer.

By Money Staff Nov 15, 2013 1:41PM

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News. 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyBlack Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year, but retailers and shoppers aren’t the only ones keeping busy after Thanksgiving.

According to Roto-Rooter, Black Friday is the single busiest day for their residential plumbers. While the volume of guests may cause some problems in the bathroom, the kitchen is home to most issues. The company says its kitchen calls generally jump 50 percent the day after Thanksgiving. 

Don’t put that down the drain!

Indoor plumbing is an amazing invention, and your kitchen sink can make clean-up a breeze. Pour in liquids or use the disposal to grind up scraps. Then, turn on the water and it all gets 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.

Keep the water flowing smoothly by remembering these things should never be going down your sink, even if you have 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 going down the toilet other than what comes from your body should be toilet paper. That means cotton balls, swabs, cleansing cloths and similar items need Dollars down drain © Stockbyte/SuperStockto go into the trash, not flushed away. And that includes wipes that are labeled "flushable." Don't believe it. 

Keep drains clear Ttrough 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 and empty trash receptacles in each bathroom so visitors won’t feel they have to flush away anything.

And after dinner, when your guests are helping with clean-up, put a garbage bin front and center 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.

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 night 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.

More from Money Talks News:

Nov 15, 2013 5:17PM

I usually skip by articles like this but I knew where this was going. I moved into a new house 35 years ago and invited my family to our first Thanksgiving in our new house. My dear 71 year old grandmother volunteered to peel the potatoes. The next day the plumber had to cut out a three foot section of the drain line as it was packed with peels. I was upset at the time but I would pay anything to have her here to clog the pipe one more time. Miss you grandmom. Cherish the day with your families everyone because these moments will surely end.

Nov 15, 2013 6:48PM
I used to work for a sewage plant designer/engineer as a solid waste disposal application tech. When we were building new plants and were replacing the older sludge ponds we pumped them into trucks and injected the sludge into farm land as fertilizer. Sounds nasty and not eco friendly but we did follow all EPA regulations in monitoring heavy metals, solid percentages, chemical, petroleum products, etc. which made it safe as long as we followed standards and record keeping practices. You would be surprised at what we found in that sludge. Cans, plastic feminine products, large feminine products, small toys, hairballs, pieces of metal, bones (whole and ground up bones that seemed to re-solidify after gong through a disposal), latex birth control products (condoms and diaphragms), yard waste (some people will dump their yard waste into a sewage cleanout fitting or a sewage manhole for some reason), small grease balls, small pets, and sometimes paper money. The line men would sometime have to go to stoppages and they would put a fan and a huge smoke bomb into a sewer to find where a clog is and it was usually a ball of grease/fat and hair that sometimes was 36"-72" round. We called them F.O.G. or F.H.O.G (FAT OIL GREASE or FAT HAIR OIL GREASE). Most of the time the largest are found around apartment complexes and/or restaurants. Some ways to avoid slow drains and clogs from disposals are: Run the water before turning on the disposal and then letting it run for as long as possible after it is off. Run the dish washer as soon as possible after the disposal has been run to help flush the drains while the food is still soft and floats. The detergent will also help to break down the small amount of oil and fat that may get down the disposal. You can also have a container filled with water ready to pour down the disposal after it has been run, too especially if a large amount of food is run through the disposal. Running the washing machine will also move water with detergents into the drain pipes. Something else that can cause food to get trapped in the pipes is toothpaste. If enough water isn't used to flush it further into the pipes it will leave a small layer of paste and it will dry in the pipes. As most people are creatures of habit they will brush their teeth the same way every day and this will cause a toothpaste deposit at a certain point in the pipes. That alone isn't enough to cause a problem but it is a place that can gather food and waste particles at that point.  Just follow good common sense when it comes to drains. Just because you can't see it anymore doesn't mean that it is completley gone. Without enough water everything will end up too close to your drains and that is where most residential stoppages will occur. I have never had an issue with a disposal and only a rare but normal stoppage from toilets which are easily fixed with a quick plunge.
Nov 15, 2013 6:05PM
Massive turds after thanksgiving clogs toilets huge news story here.
Nov 15, 2013 6:33PM

From experience, DO NOT allow pasta to go down your drain. Even if you have a disposal. It will harden in the pipes and become like concrete. Not an easy removal job. BEWARE! BE VERY AFRAID OF PASTA!!!

Nov 15, 2013 5:50PM
The plumbers need to go to the WHITEHOUSE to clean up all of the **** that's being disposed on us.
Nov 15, 2013 4:26PM
Hmmm...must be a slow news day if this is all we can report about.  By the way this is common sense not only for Thanksgiving but the rest of the year as well.  If you are dumb enough to use your sink as a garbage disposal then you deserve the plumbing bill that goes with it.
Nov 15, 2013 7:32PM
The joys of a plugged drain. My 3 all time favorites where, a toothbrush down a toilet caught in the trap,I would clear it with a drain snake but when they flushed toilet paper it would clog again. The third time the brush broke loose and came  out Then the time some idiot tried to flush half a grapefruit down the toilet, and it became lodged in the trap. I had to pull it up from the floor, took it in the basement and wrapped a towel around a garden hose and used water pressure to force it out. Then my most favorite, trying to wash black olives, pits and all down a garbage disposal. It's a garbage disposal, not a rock crusher.
Nov 15, 2013 9:07PM
Since I live alone and have no family or relatives, I just eat out on Thanksgiving which saves me a mess to clean up later. 
Nov 15, 2013 6:01PM
Plugged or slow drains are often caused by debris (hair etc.) lodged in the P trap . Place a small bucket or bowl below the fittings and remove and clean the unit . they are usually hand tightened plastic these days ...
Nov 15, 2013 5:51PM
If you abuse your plumbing you pay the price...sounds like that goes without saying.

The garbage disposal is where so many go wrong with the plumbing. It is not meant to dispense of large volumes of foods at one time and as the article says there are some things that a disposal just can't chew up. In addition to what is mentioned, be careful with things like apples as they can jam and overheat the motor.

For example, at our house we scrape the excess food off into the garbage, then turn on the cold water full blast (the cold water keeps the disposal motor cool), kick on the disposal and rinse the rest of the food debris off the plates down the disposal. As long as the cold water is running the disposal can stand to run for 30-60 seconds while you do this...and we haven't had problems with clogs.

Another couple of neat tips: grinding a few ice cubes or egg shells in the disposal from time to time helps keep it clean.
Nov 16, 2013 12:42AM
I worked for Roto-Rooter for a handful of yrs. This is propaganda. They used to make everyone work that day and we would all just be sitting around. True, while the holiday season does yield a hire volume of calls, it is hardly as bad on black friday as many claim. 20 yrs of service plumbing experience. 
Nov 15, 2013 5:16PM
This article reflects the growing ineptitude of Americans in performing home maintenance and repair. Almost no one requires a plumber for opening a slow or clogged drain unless they are totally helpless and/or stupid.
Nov 16, 2013 12:08AM
Nov 18, 2013 11:30AM
Another good reason to compost table scraps (but not grease, bones or skin). Your garden will thank you (eventually).
Nov 18, 2013 1:36PM
Nov 18, 2013 10:45AM
and avoid rice, cooked or raw...nightmare.

I've seen the potato filled sink drain and a freinds toiled clogged by believe it or not..... dental floss.....


The drain is not a trash can..... If it doesnt need to go down there..... Dont put it there......

Nov 18, 2013 10:14AM
Plumbers and Cardiologist.  Surprising how many wait until after the families leave to come into the ER having their heart attack, so as not to upset the dinner.
Nov 18, 2013 7:23AM
What a plumber to do,best of luck on the task Happy Bird day  bye
Nov 24, 2013 5:09PM
I was screwed over by a landlord once. I put 10+ pounds of dry POPCORN down his garbage disposal & ran it till it died. That fixed him & made it OK that he kept my security deposit. Bet it cost him dearly. Don't screw with a renter that pays his rent on time. This guy was a total crook that kept everybody's deposits as standard procedure!!!
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