Why plumbers see boom in business after Thanksgiving

SAN ANTONIO – Retail stores are not the only businesses seeing a boom in customers after Thanksgiving. Plumbers usually see a spike in business after the holiday due to the way some people use their drains after the big meal.

“Right now, around the holiday season, everyone gets their family to come in,” said Jimmy Shafer, president of Shafer Services Plus. “You may know how your drain works and what it can take but not your family members.”

Shafer said his business' calls increase by 20 percent after Thanksgiving.

“When you have a lot of family over, a lot of people are helping out,” Shafer said. “A lot of food you don't normally have is being cooked and weird things go down the drain.”

By weird things, he means things that do not belong in the sink or garbage disposal.

“They may put too many turkey legs down that thing or too many turkey bones. Believe it or not, one of the biggest issues is when people think they can put mashed potatoes down the drain,” Shafer said.

Most of the calls are drain-related but some deal with plumbing.

“If you have a lot of people in your home at one time, maybe your septic tank, which is used to two or three people at a time, cannot function with 10 to 15 people in the house,” Shafer said. “Sometimes septic tanks overflow. Perhaps, you have many people taking showers or running water. You would need to put time and space between each use.”

Shafer said another rule for using your garbage disposal correctly is to always run enough water that is cold and not hot.

“When you have grease in your disposal and you run hot or warm water, that grease will not thicken until it is in a colder temperature,” Shafer said. “So your hot water would only be washing that grease deeper into the pipes until it gets to a cooler spot and thickens up, causing a blockage.”

He said plumbers also face the problem of people flushing items that do not belong in the toilet.

“We see paper towels being flushed, wet wipes, even some linen napkins," Shafer said. "Also, when you have a bunch of kids maybe playing around in the bathroom, we have seen toy trucks getting stuck in the toilet.”

Shafer said the best thing to remember is that if you are unsure whether or not an item can go down the garbage disposal, just throw it in the trash.

“If you don’t know, use your trash can. Don’t overwork your garbage disposal,” he said. “The trash can is your best friend.”

Shafer also said if you experience blockage of some sort, you can try using a plunger, but avoid using acids or other drainage chemicals.

“It can be very dangerous for your plumber when they are needed,” Shafer said. “If it (chemicals) splashes up in your eyes, it can blind you. It can burn your skin really bad. If it mixes with the wrong chemical, it can actually explode. If you do use those kind of items, be sure to tell your plumber before they start working on the issue.”

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