7 Thanksgiving Plumbing Tips to Avoid a Holiday Emergency

Kaitlyn Pacheco
Written by Kaitlyn Pacheco
Updated November 18, 2021
Group of people sharing Thanksgiving meal
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Keep the plumbers away on Thanksgiving Day

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If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, you’ve likely spent hours preparing a lavish meal and cleaning every inch of the house to ensure that your guests are comfortable and happy. So, after all of that work, the last thing you want to hear is that the kitchen sink or the shower drain is clogged. 

Turkey Day plumbing problems are surprisingly common, in fact, the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for Roto-Rooter’s residential plumbers. To avoid adding a plumber to your holiday guest list, follow these seven clog-preventing tips.

1. Don’t Toss Leftovers Down the Drain

If you get stuck with kitchen cleanup duty, it can be tempting to toss the leftovers from everyone’s plates down the drain and call it a day. But throwing large quantities of food waste into the drain will overwhelm your kitchen plumbing system, causing a clog. 

To prevent clogging, throw the leftovers in the garbage or into a compost pile. Ensure that food waste that you shouldn’t put in the garbage disposal, like potato peels, fruit pits, and poultry skin and bones, doesn’t go down the drain on your watch.

2. Properly Dispose of Cooking Grease

Some of the tastiest elements of Thanksgiving dinner—think turkey, gravy, and bacon crumbles—leave your pots and pans covered in grease. However, you should never pour the leftover fat, cooking oil, or grease down your drain because they will solidify in your pipes before you have the chance to serve dessert.

Instead, wipe the grease off of your cookware with a paper towel and throw it away. Or you can pour the cooled oil into a metal can and then, once the can is full, toss it in the trash.

3. Run the Garbage Disposal Regularly

When it comes to cleaning up after Thanksgiving dinner, strategic garbage disposal usage is key. If you wait until the disposal is full of food waste to turn it on, you may risk clogging the drain

To avoid a plumbing disaster, turn the disposal on before you toss food into it. Then, turn on the faucet to allow the drain to fill with water before piling in the food waste. After you turn off the garbage disposal, keep the water running for a few extra seconds to prepare for next time.

4. Wait to Run the Dishwasher

Your dishwasher is full of dirty plates and glasses, so it’s time to run it, right? Not so fast. Since your dishwasher and your garbage disposal share a drain, running both at the same time could result in food scraps mixing into your dish wash cycle.

To keep your kitchen drain system running smoothly, wait to start a load of dishes until you’re finished using the garbage disposal. If your kitchen is full of relatives who want to assist with the cleanup process, ensure that everyone knows the disposal cut-off rule.

5. Wait 10 Minutes in Between Showers

If you’re hosting overnight guests during Thanksgiving weekend, encourage everyone to space out their showers to allow the tub drains to do their jobs effectively. If there are multiple showers occurring back-to-back or simultaneously, the drains won’t be able to properly dispose of the hair moving through the pipes, causing a blockage or a backup.

With those risks in mind, ask your houseguests to wait about 10 minutes between showers. To keep shower drain clogs at bay, add drain strainers to stop large clumps of hair or other debris from blocking up your pipes.

6. Avoid Flushing Anything But Toilet Paper

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner means that your bathrooms will experience a heavier flow of traffic than usual. To prevent a cringeworthy toilet clog, ensure that you and your guests avoid flushing anything that’s not toilet paper. This rule of thumb applies to wet wipes, feminine hygiene products, facial tissues, cotton swabs and balls, and paper towels.

To keep your bathroom plumbing clear, place an empty waste bin near the toilet so that your guests have easy access to the proper disposal.

7. Address Plumbing Problems Before Turkey Day

If you’ve noticed that your bathroom sink is draining slowly or your kitchen faucet is dripping, don’t wait until Thanksgiving to address the issue. Hire a professional plumber to inspect your systems for clogs or other problems and resolve them before your guests arrive. That way, you can rest assured that your plumbing system can handle the holiday traffic, and you can focus on enjoying your time with family and friends.

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