Brown Friday: Plumbers say Thanksgiving meals often spark plumbing nightmares

Thanksgiving Dinner
Posted at 8:48 AM, Nov 24, 2021

AKRON, Ohio — Black Friday isn't just the busiest day of the year for retailers — it can be the busiest day of the year for many plumbers as well.

Jeremy McCoy of H. Jack's Plumbing & Heating Co in Akron, Ohio, says his team gets overwhelmed every year on the day after Thanksgiving with calls about plumbing nightmares.

The day is so overwhelming that he often refers to it as "Brown Friday."

"Everybody's out shopping and we're generally cleaning up messes for people," McCoy said. "We're one of the few companies to actually answer the phone all the time. So, we've had people tell us, you know, 'I've called 13 people and nobody's answering.'"

McCoy says most of the issues he deals with are often preventable, but it starts with protecting pipes.

"People think that their garbage disposals are garbage cans, and that's probably your biggest problem," he said.

McCoy recommends scraping leftover grease, oils and food off cookware and putting it in the trash or an empty container. If anything goes down the drain, mixing baking soda, vinegar, and even ice can help clean up.

"The best thing you can do is when you finish dinner is to scrape your plate in the garbage and then whatever little pieces get washed in the sink or in your dishwasher, whatever, those are fine," McCoy said. "There aren't blades in your disposal. They just knock it around and make it smaller. So, people think it just eats it up, you know? That's not how it works."

McCoy says solutions like Drano may not be the best for clogged drains.

"People love to put Drano on everything. Please, please don't. Someone is going to have to come and snake that open," McCoy said. "Drano does not work. If Drano worked, none of us would snake drains. So, you know, that's a big part of our business. Plus, if you have older pipes, it will eat away at those over time, and that's not a good thing."

Jennifer Elting with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District says those hosting Thanksgiving should remember the acronym "F.O.G."

"It stands for fats, oils and grease," she said. "And anything like salad dressing, cheese, milk, butter, obviously cooking oil — you do not want to run that down your drain. They especially love to bind with flushable wipes."

Speaking of flushable wipes, McCoy said those belong in garbage cans, not pipes.

"You should never, ever flush a flushable wipe. Just throw out a garbage can," he said. "It's easier to wrap up a bag of garbage and take it to your can outside than it is to call us."

This story was originally published by Taneisha Cordell on Scripps station WEWS in Cleveland.