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Why the day after Thanksgiving is so busy for plumbers

It's not a myth; the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for America's largest provider of plumbing, sewer and drain services, Roto-Rooter. Think about the reasons why. The holiday is all about a big meal. When cooks get busy in the kitchen preparing a feast, lots of food and scraps end up down the kitchen drain and into the garbage disposal. Turkey drippings. It’s just grease. Hot drippings may be in liquid form when poured down the drain but the liquid will solidify like candle wax once it cools down inside the pipes. Rice and pasta swell when introduced to water. Worse, they’ll break down into a starchy gel and clog the pipes. Toss in some poultry skin, dressing, vegetable peels and a bone or two and you’ve got a sewer or drain clog of monumental proportions.

Many Thanksgiving hosts have overnight guests who take showers, baths, flush toilets and might even do a laundry load or two. This extra strain on the plumbing system is like the proverbial last straw that breaks a camel’s back. Chances are that the house already had a partially clogged drain or two but the problem was not altogether noticeable yet. However, once a few more guests show up, the drains become overwhelmed. Worse, the actual problem might be past the sink drain down in the main sewer line under your front yard. Tree roots grow into the pipe at the joint and catch all of the grease, toilet paper, food scraps and wet wipes that go down your drains. Eventually, every drain in the house backs up with raw sewage. It can be a very nasty mess that threatens to ruin the holiday mood of even the most delightful host.

"Often, the case is that a house already has partially clogged drains that go unnoticed, until holiday guests arrive and overwhelm the system,” said Paul Abrams, spokesman for Roto-Rooter. Hectic houses full of people and frantic hosts quickly and easily lead to plumbing problems throughout the holiday season. “Even more problematic is that virtually every traditional Thanksgiving dish is a drain clogging culprit,” Abrams continued.


Thanksgiving hosts can avoid a visit from their plumber over the holiday weekend by following these clog-preventing tips:

  • Never pour fats or cooking oils down drains. They solidify in pipes. Instead, wipe grease from pots with paper towels and throw in trash.
  • Avoid putting stringy, fibrous or starchy waste in the garbage disposal. Poultry skins, celery, fruit and potato peels, for example, cannot be sufficiently broken down.
  • Make sure the disposal is running when you put food into it. Don’t wait until it’s full to turn it on.
  • For homes hosting weekend guests, it’s a good idea to wait ten minutes between showers so slow drains have time to do their job.
  • Never flush cotton balls, swabs, hair or wet wipes down a toilet. They don’t dissolve and will cause clogs. Place a waste basket in the bathroom so these items won’t be flushed.
  • Try to address any plumbing problems before the holiday and before guests arrive. However, in the case of holiday plumbing emergencies, don’t hesitate to ask a plumber, up front, about extra holiday service fees. As always, know your DIY limits. Often, minor plumbing problems turn into plumbing catastrophes if not handled properly.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is known as “Black Friday” in retail circles but it is “Brown Friday” for plumbers. It really is the busiest day of the year for Roto-Rooter, whose 7,000 service technicians and plumbers across the country will be on the job and battling America’s clogs.

To help you learn how to avoid Thanksgiving clogs, we created this entertaining and informative dramatic video. And if you want even more detailed tips and information, watch this video.

The major types of clogs we see at Roto-Rooter around Thanksgiving are (in ranking order):

  1. Kitchen sink clogs / jammed garbage disposals
  2. Main sewer clogs
  3. Toilet clogs

Learn what not to put down a garbage disposal. And to learn how to manage most kitchen sink and garbage disposal clogs, click here. And if you’ve tried everything and it’s time to call in a professional to resolve your sewer and drain problems, schedule service online or call 1-800-GET-ROTO.


It’s never too early to start preparing for the holiday season ahead. Good Housekeeping Magazine published an article titled '9 Fascinating Facts About Black Friday History'. It digs into interesting facts about Thanksgiving and Black Friday as well as the origin of the name, Black Friday. The well-known and trusted magazine reached out to Roto-Rooter to touch on the busiest 48 hours of the year for plumbers.

All of the extra Thanksgiving activities may be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back and causes a big, nasty sewer backup just in time to ruin your holiday. If you think your sewer may be partially clogged, why not have the Roto-Rooter pro snake out your sewer now and avoid a catastrophe on Thanksgiving?

Incoming calls to Roto-Rooter for service will jump 50 percent above the average Friday. The four-day Thanksgiving weekend averages a 21 percent increase over any other Thursday through Sunday period during the year. Roto-Rooter is prepared with additional staff to address the expected increase in calls and jobs, saving customers from long waits and outrageous holiday service charges.



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