Thanksgiving is a holiday about appreciating the good things we have and enjoying time and food with family and friends, but there is one thing you will definitely be thankful to avoid – a nightmare situation caused by post-holiday clogged pipes due to improper disposal of fats, oils and grease – better known as FOG.
Because food is a centerpiece of Thanksgiving, it is also a time of year when plumbers are busy responding to the effects of the wrong things being placed in your kitchen sink. The day after Thanksgiving has long been known as Black Friday because of its emphasis on shopping (and putting company’s “in the black,”, or increasing their profits), but many plumbers refer to the day as Brown Friday because of dirty water resulting from the numerous clogged drains requiring repair.
"The day after Thanksgiving is the perfect storm for us," said Paul Abrams, a spokesman for Roto Rooter, the largest American plumbing and drain cleaning service. "We have all hands on deck."
While clogged drains are disastrous, a big inconvenience and can be expensive to fix, they are also easy to prevent. Avoid putting oil, greasy items or any type of food in your garbage disposal that could cause problems. It’s not just meat or oils that can cause a problem. Stringy vegetables, such as celery, potato skins, asparagus, artichokes and corn husks wreak havoc with garbage disposal blades.
Egg shells can also be a problem, as well as dressing, pumpkin and onion peels or banana peels. These items can be difficult for a garbage disposal to handle, causing significant clogs.
When in doubt, throw it out. Putting food waste in the trash can will help you to avoid a post-holiday clogged drain nightmares. Grease should never been dumped down the drain; however, with hot grease, of course, just remember to let it cool before throwing it away.
You should also wipe excess grease out of pots and pans before putting them in the sink.
Not only is grease a threat to clog sink pipes, it can also cause sewage problems. The United States Environmental Protection Agency notes that grease is the top cause of blocked sewers, which can cause an overflow of untreated waste.
The EPA reports that there are between 23,000 and 75,000 U.S. sanitary sewer overflows each year, discharging up to 10 billion gallons (38 billion liters) of raw sewage.
Adam Krantz, managing director for government and public affairs at the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, said the price tag for clearing blockages is hundreds of millions of dollars each year. He said grease is a major reason for those blockages.
Thanksgiving is also a time when many people travel and stay with someone overnight. If you have holiday guests (or if you are a holiday guest), plumbing experts recommend having people wait 10 minutes between each shower to give drains more time to work.
During a busy time when your focus is on people, food, football, and perhaps Christmas shopping, why not make your holiday a little easier by giving yourself and your home a great gift by avoiding the type of plumbing disasters that can disrupt an otherwise happy Thanksgiving.