By midday Friday, Bernie Digabriele’s Philadelphia plumbing company had already responded to some 20 calls in three days. This was unusually high.
“The Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are unbelievable,” he said of the Thanksgiving holiday, while in the midst of unclogging bones and stuffing from someone’s drain.
But he wasn’t surprised by the sometimes panicked calls over the last three days. They all had to do with, yes, backed up sinks or broken garbage disposals. It’s the unintended, but predictable to plumbers, predicament of what happens when too much Thanksgiving byproducts get dumped down the drain.
Digabriele says what happens is people may overload their drains with greases and other food waste. Many then forget to run water right before and right after running the garbage disposal for about 20 seconds.
“It’s not simply pushing a button and dumping garbage in there,” he said.
It’s also not just plumbers working the holiday and managing Thanksgiving waste.
“I mean, there’s always someone manning that water plant and there’s always someone manning that sewer plant to take care of everybody,” said Jim Kelly, a Coatsville supervisor for Pennsylvania American Water Company.
He says when all that excess food and grease goes down the drain and makes it into water treatment plants, that may mean more work to ensure the water is clean when it’s then discharged into streams.
It’s for that reason that some in the industry have renamed Black Friday… Brown Friday.
Kelly suggests that instead of pouring grease and oils down the drain, people let them congeal in a container, and then throw them out.