I know Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, and that many of you are busy planning your holiday menu and plotting out your route for Black Friday deals. But did you know that the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for plumbers? Affectionately referred to as Brown Friday in the industry, Business Insider notes there’s a 50% uptick in calls on this day versus a normal Friday. While this may not come as a huge surprise, the reason for it might: clogged sinks – not toilets – are usually to blame. So, before you get mad at your great uncle Lou for his bathroom indiscretions, you might want to take a look at what’s being tossed in your kitchen sink first.
As you prepare your Thanksgiving meal this year, remember to pay attention to what you put in your disposal on turkey day. Unless you’ve got a basketball team living in your house, chances are you cook a lot more food on Thanksgiving than most days. If you’re like me and make turkey and the fixings while also trying to pick up the house before the gang arrives, you probably aren’t giving much thought to what you put in the sink. But not paying attention might end up costing you in the form of an emergency plumber’s visit, which can be up to 50 percent more an hour during the holidays. That’s a lot of Black Friday deals flushed right down the drain (sorry… couldn’t help myself)!
What Not to Put in Your Sink
While it might seem obvious, let’s review what not to dump in your disposal:
• Grease and cooking oils: Hot oil and grease may go down as liquid, but as they cool they can turn into a wax-like mess. To safely dispose of grease and cooking oil, pour it into a used tin can or another sturdy container.
• Potato and vegetable peels: Potato, carrot, and apple peels should go directly in the garbage. As they break down, they can turn into a mushy paste that’s almost guaranteed to clog up even the toughest disposal.
• Animal bones and skin: Even small pieces of bone or skin from a chicken or turkey can wreak havoc on your disposal.
• Pasta and rice: Starchy foods like pasta and rice expand with more water. Too much of it down a drain can completely block a pipe.
What to Try Before Calling a Plumber
Before you pick up the phone, you might want to try some things first:
• Use a plunger: After a relative kept dumping rice and vegetable peelings in the sink, I bought a plunger just for the kitchen. It has come in handy several times this year, and I plan to stash it nearby on Thanksgiving just in case.
• Try the reset button: Most disposals have a red reset button on the bottom that might be enough to get your disposal humming again.
• Use a wrench: You can also try to unjam a clog by inserting an Allen wrench in the small hole on the bottom of the disposal. Move the wrench in back and forth both until it begins to loosen. The goal is to eventually turn the wrench around in a complete circle, after which you can try running the disposal again.
• Use hot water: While it’s unlikely that your disposal will clog after pouring hot grease or oil in it once, the chances of buildup increase. If you accidentally do this, run hot water through the disposal for several minutes. Online suggestions also range from using boiling water to vinegar to baking soda, but not everyone agrees about how safe these options are for your disposal or pipes.
All of these suggestions are pretty low risk. So if you want to try them yourself, I suggest looking for “how to” videos online.
Who You Gonna Call?
If you still need to call a plumber, be sure to ask them ahead of time what their holiday rates are. While you might not be happy, at least you’ll know what to expect before they arrive.