It always seems to happen at the worst times. It’s the holidays, you’ve got family in town, you’re trying to pull together a complicated meal, and your pipes clog up. Now you’re trying to keep everything running smoothly while food scraps come burbling back up out of the drain.
It’s a common problem to have the kitchen sink clogged during the holidays. The combination of careless food disposal and higher demand on the sewer system often leads to disaster. Learn why it is that your pipes always seem to clog during the holidays and how to prevent it this year.
Discovering Clogged Pipes in Time
The first thing you need to know about clogged pipes around the holidays is how to spot them. Letting a clog go for too long can result in burst pipes, an expensive visit from a plumber, and a lot of water damage. So be sure to pay attention, and don’t let clogs go too long unresolved.
If your sink starts running more slowly or begins to smell bad, you may have a clog developing. You may also find yourself having to pour liquid drain cleaner down the pipes more and more often. If this is the case, have a plumber come out and snake the drains before everyone arrives for the holidays.
Why the Holidays Are Worse
So why is it that drains always seem to clog up at the worst time, when family is in town and you’re cooking like crazy? It’s actually all that extra activity that causes the problem. You’re asking more of your plumbing system than usual, and the rush and stress of the holidays may cause you to make some unwise choices regarding your plumbing.
Plumbers say Black Friday is their busiest day of the year because people start trying to run all sorts of things down the pipes in the rush of the holidays. It sounds crazy, but some plumbers tell stories of people who have tried to flush turkey carcasses down the toilet. It’s no surprise that the pipes clog up with that sort of thing.
Dispose of Food Properly
The biggest thing you can do to prevent a clogged sink during the holidays is to dispose of food properly. We know you’re in a rush and it can be tempting to try to put everything down the disposal. But your sink can’t handle all your food waste at once, and certain things should never go down the sink.
Make sure you put poultry bones and skin, fibrous veggies, and veggie peels in the garbage, not down the sink. Those sorts of things can get wrapped around or jammed in your disposal blades, stopping it in its tracks. Even if they do make it down the disposal, they can get hung up further down the pipes and cause problems.
Rinse with Cold Water
Another major culprit of clogged sinks is grease from animal fat going down the drain. The holidays are one of the only times we roast turkeys, and that grease is not good for your pipes. The best thing to do is pour turkey and bacon grease into an empty can, let it cool, and dispose of that separately.
But if you’re in a hurry, you may be tempted to dump the grease down the drain and run some hot water down behind it to keep it from solidifying in the pipe. But all this does is coat your pipes with an ever-thickening layer of grease. If you have to put grease down the pipes, run cold water down after it to solidify the grease and allow it to run down the drain instead of sticking to the sides.
Give Your Disposal Some Time
Your disposal is going to be working overtime this holiday season, so be sure to give it a little love. Pay attention to the noise it’s making, and make sure it doesn’t sound strained. If your disposal starts making a continuous humming noise instead of its usual grinding, turn it off immediately and try to clear the clog by hand.
A good way to prevent a clogged disposal is to give it plenty of time to run before and after you put food down it. Turn the disposal on and let it run for about thirty seconds before you start putting food down it. Then let it run for a minute afterward, letting the water run the whole time, too.
Give Pipes Time to Drain
Another major source of clogged pipes during the holidays is an overflow of relatives using the shower. Even if your hot water heater can keep up, your pipes may have a hard time handling that much water at once. And once a backup starts, it’s only going to get worse the more you try to put down the drains.
Ask relatives to leave at least fifteen minutes between each shower. This will give the water from the last shower time to make its way down the drain and out of your pipes. Just this simple measure can prevent an unpleasant plumbing situation around the holidays.
Flush Only Paper
In addition to turkey carcasses, people will try to flush all sorts of strange stuff down the toilet during holidays. Cotton balls, pads, diapers, baby wipes, and paper towels are all common culprits of drain clogs. While your sewer system might be able to handle one or two of those on occasion, a bunch of them around the holidays will cause problems.
Ask your houseguests to flush only toilet paper and tampons down the toilet. Any other hygiene products should go into the trash can, and that can be taken out regularly. Make sure every bathroom has a small trash can so your guests aren’t tempted to flush anything they shouldn’t.
Avoid Having Your Kitchen Sink Clogged
Having your kitchen sink clogged during the holidays is enormously stressful. But with a little preparation and care, you can avoid any holiday plumbing disasters and make sure everything goes off without a hitch. Resist the urge to put everything down the drains and give your pipes some time to recover, and you’ll be able to avoid a call to the plumber this holiday season.
If you do run into plumbing trouble, reach out to us at Beehive Plumbing. We offer emergency plumbing services, as well as routine repairs and installations. Book an appointment with us to make sure your pipes are in good working order before your guests arrive.