Plates and Toilets Overflow; Insanity Ensues

What To Do To Avoid T-Day Toilet Troubles

Thanksgiving.  The day when your plate overflows... and so does your toilet.  And sink.  And basically every drain in the house.

We know you want to blame the in-laws.  But it could just as well be your fault for not being ready.  Simple warning signs you ignored could have saved time, money, and sanity.

But don't worry -- we've got you covered.  Below are tips for how to save the party before it's too late.

Wednesday: The Calm Before the Storm

Paul Abrams, spokesman for Roto-Rooter, says the key to survival is seeing the storm on the horizon.

"It comes down to kind of a perfect storm if you will," he said.  "Big holiday meals in the kitchen, extra guests, extra toilet flushes, more showers, more wash loads, almost everything associated with the traditional thanksgiving dinner is a potential drain clogger.

Rafael Zeligzon calls himself The Drain Medic.  His business in East Hartford handles all sorts of plumbing problems, many of which could be avoided.  He says one of the biggest mistakes is actually Drano.

"If people have a clogged drain, never use Drano," he said.  "Never use chemicals because for the most part, the harsh ones make the problem worse.  There's something about the chemicals that dissolve old pipes and the rust and stuff, so it becomes like mud."

Zeligzon says by recognizing a problem before Thanksgiving and having it fixed, you'll save a ton of money.

 T-Day:  The Day of Reckoning

Rafael Zeligzon says people are their own worst enemy and put things down the drain that should NEVER go there.

"Grease.  Jeeze, don't put oil or grease down the drain," he said.  "What happens is that when you put grease down the drain it accumulates and then becomes hard.
Don't put rice down there, especially uncooked rice.  Celery is bad.  Potato peels too.  Pasta is VERY bad.  It becomes like peanut butter."

If you're not going to throw it in the trash, take it easy on the garbage disposal.

"Put in a little at a time, put the lid on, put in a quarter sink of water, put on the disposal, then put the water down it.  Don't run it dry.  Water is like a lubricant," he said.

"I'll tell you the truth -- the stinkiest drain in the house is a kitchen sink.  Imagine one with seafood stuck in it for seven days.  You're better off smelling a toilet.  Ugh."

Speaking of toilets, Paul Abrams says they're often the biggest source of embarrassment for hosts and guests alike.

"When you have guests, they're not as familiar with the household routine," he said.  "Stick a wastebasket in the bathroom, that way nobody is tempted to put facial tissue, q-tips, etc. down the pipes."

That, he said, is what usually leads to the backed up toilet - not an overly large dinner. 

"Here's a good idea to save people from embarrassment.  Keep a plunger in the bathroom.  Chances are before they walk out and ask for help, they're going to look around for a solution," Abrams said.

But what happens if they didn't know the rule of the courtesy flush?  He says it's a disaster in the works with just seconds to stop it.

"It's like one of those movies where you're trying to diffuse the time bomb before it overflows," he said.  "Turn off the water.  There's a faucet right below the toilet.  It should save you."

Friday:  The Aftermath

Zeligzon says it's definitely less expensive to have the drain unclogged on Friday than it is on a holiday.

"Any emergency, the charge will be more.  If they can wait, the charge will be less," he said.  "If a plumber is at his home celebrating Thanksgiving, it could be very expensive.  You've gotta understand, supply and demand, it's the American way." 

Which is why Abrams says it will probably be more difficult to get a plumber the day after.

"Friday is a busier day than Thursday," he said.  "A lot of the things happen on Thursday but people will live with it until Friday to avoid the holiday surcharge fees."

 Our Suggestions

If you DO need a plumber on Thanksgiving, it's not going to be easy.  If Zeligzon is tied up, Roto Rooter has plumbers on call across the state.

We also found a free website called Screen-A-Pro.  It checks trade licenses, insurance of the plumbers, and also conducts a criminal records and sex offender search on the companies.  We put in a request for a plumber on their website and received about a half dozen calls in just minutes - plumbers across the state competing for our business.

But perhaps the cheapest safety net of all?  Watch what you put down the drain, and pick up a cheap plunger.  Good luck!

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