It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. You know, last year’s holiday dinner? When the bounty of potato peels, turkey scraps and leftover dressing exceeded the temperament of your kitchen disposal? There is nothing merry or bright about having to call a plumber on Thanksgiving Day. But it’s an all-too-often necessity when cooking fats, oils and grease get backed up in your kitchen drain.
“You have to be careful of not cramming your disposal full, or using it as garbage can to get rid of food waste,” advised Craig Blessing, owner of Blessing’s Plumbing, located in Virginia Beach. “The food particles will become solid, clogging up the pipe and completely closing it off.”
Blessing recommends wiping plates and serving containers with a paper towel before rinsing or washing in the sink, and to avoid putting greasy leftovers, scraps and cooking oil down the kitchen drain or disposal. Standing grease or cooking oil, for instance, can be poured into a can to freeze, before tossing safely in the trash.
If a kitchen backup does occur, Blessing offered these fix-it-yourself tips:
- For a two-drain sink, put a drain stopper on one side and plunge out the other. Usually, this will clear out the backup.
- If an overly-stuffed garbage disposal is to blame and becomes inoperable, look under the sink and press the reset button located at the bottom of the disposal. If that doesn’t work, take the L-shaped “key,” or Allen wrench, that came with the device and insert it in at the base of the disposal located under the sink. Turn the key, which will release the blades. While the disposal is off, use tongs to pull out whatever is causing the malfunction (a bone, big chunks of food, etc.).
And if you think it’s just the kitchen pipes that ruin a holiday party, think again. The pipes connected to your commode can get stopped up with feminine hygiene products and so-called flushable wipes. Take this plumber’s advice – these are not flushable.
“Wipes are made out of fibrous material and can get hung up in the drain. It causes thousands of stoppages,” he said.
Blessing has one more reason to be careful what you put down your drains. “Plumbers often charge a holiday fee, plus a flat rate emergency fee on Thanksgiving and Christmas days,” he said. “When it’s all said and done, that could add up to big dollars for a homeowner – and a fight between the hosts.”