Ah, Thanksgiving. It’s one of the most eagerly anticipated holidays of the year. The joy of Thanksgiving springs from more than watching football all day and eating a calorie-laden meal at night. It’s a celebration of family and friends when exam-weary college students come home for a much-needed break and far-flung cousins and grandparents and aunts and uncles have the opportunity to reunite and enjoy being together.
Whether your family’s tradition involves a single night of feasting or a long weekend that spills over into Black Friday shopping and football games in the yard, you want everybody’s memory to be of warmth and fun and great food, not of a plumbing disaster — but all too often that’s where things end up. Blame it on a lack of knowledge, carelessness, or lack of preparation, but the day after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest and most profitable days of the year for the plumbing industry. Our emergency call line is inevitably filled with frantic homeowners who’ve left messages about broken garbage disposals, overflowing toilets, and clogged showers, problems that can easily be avoided with a little foresight. Though we’re always happy to help, we’d rather you happily spend time with your family than have you need to call on us. Here are some tips for ways to avoid a holiday plumbing disaster.
1. Remember the Boy Scout motto, and be prepared!
When it comes to the holidays and plumbing, a few minutes of preparation will eliminate a lot of headaches, and a call to our service. Put plungers in every bathroom to make sure that none of your guests face the embarrassment of having to call for help if they face a clog. Make sure that you have plastic trash bags and containers for food scraps and grease on hand next to the kitchen sink so that you aren’t tempted to put things down the drain. If you have time, call us for a quick pre-holiday inspection so that we can make sure that your pipes are completely clear and your chance of drain clogs is minimized.
2. Understand the limitations of your garbage disposal.
Garbage disposals are remarkable devices that can cut down on bulk and odors in your kitchen trashcan, but they are not magic. There are specific food items that should not be put into the disposal, and these items include grease, fat and oil, any kind of stringy foods such as raw celery, bits of fat from uncooked beef or raw skin from chicken or turkey, and potato skins. As you’re cooking, throw these forbidden items into your prepared cans and bags. Garbage disposals should always be operated with the water running and should never be stuffed with material, so even when you’re disposing of safe items, you need to take care.
3. Use a sink stopper in your kitchen sink.
We know that when you’re cooking for a crowd, it’s easy to get carried away and forget to throw peels and refuse into the sink. Having your sink stopper in place provides you with a safeguard against making costly makes.
4. Toilets aren’t catchalls.
It’s hard to supervise your guests’ toilet habits, but you can help them out by making sure that your toilets are each equipped with a plunger. One of the most common toilet problems that we get called for are toys that are flushed by toddlers, and our advice is that you tell your guests with small children a made-up story about a previous guest so that they will get the hint and keep an eye on their little darlings.
5. Know where your water shut-off valves are.
You don’t need to have plumbing skills to be able to keep a small problem from becoming a big one. Before your guests arrive, make sure that you know where your water shut-off valves are and that you know how to turn the water off. It’s also a good idea to have a bucket under your kitchen sink in case your pipes spring a leak – doing so may save you a lot of cleanup time.
If all of these tips help you prevent a problem, then we’ve done our job. If not, then do yourself and us a favor and DON’T PUT CHEMICALS DOWN YOUR DRAIN. If your plunger and a little elbow grease aren’t enough to clear your clog, give us a call and we’ll be there quickly to help you with your plumbing problem.