November is here, the cold weather is upon us, and that means the holidays aren’t far behind. First up – Thanksgiving. And with it means lots of friends and family, lots of food … and in some cases lots of plumbing problems.

Thanksgiving is the single busiest day of the year for residential plumbers. After a big holiday meal preparation, lots of cleanup, and waste being sent down the kitchen drain and garbage disposal in droves, its no wonder pipes get clogged. It also means your entire plumbing system is being pushed to the limits, with more clothes washing, showers and toilet flushes. If you had a weak or semi-clogged system to begin with, disaster is waiting in the wings as the system is overwhelmed.

Thanksgiving Advice … From Your Plumber

The other problem lies in the fact that virtually every Thanksgiving dish is a major drain clog culprit.

Pumpkin – this may be the one time of the year you make things from scratch. Nothing tastes better than a fresh pumpkin pie, and with all of those leftover pumpkins from Halloween, why not use some for the festive treat? Pumpkin “guts” are slimy and gooey. The stringy mess combines pulp with seeds, and together they can coat and clog just about anything. If this goes down the drain, it will damage your garbage disposal pretty easily. Instead, collect the seeds for roasting. And whatever you have leftover, use for composting.

Grease – while you may use some of it to mix in with gravy, any leftover grease should never be sent down the drain. Grease congeals and clogs quickly as it cools. It can build up around tree roots or other things lodged in the pipe. And as this residue builds, it forms a clog that can do major damage. Instead, pour it into a can and let it congeal before throwing it out.

Bones – everyone may have a favorite part of the Thanksgiving turkey, but your garbage disposals least favorite part are the bones. Bones can quickly splinter and break, jamming in your garbage disposal and burning out the motor in the process.

Vegetables – those side dishes may be delicious, but the most common vegetables served at Thanksgiving are also the most dangerous to your garbage disposal. Asparagus, artichokes, carrot sticks, celery, potato skins, corn husks – all can do harm, especially in greater quantities, which is easy to find when you are cooking up a feast.

If you do choose to run things down your garbage disposal, keep the garbage disposal on as you put food down the drain. Don’t wait until its full before you turn it on. Keep the water on as you send things down the drain, and make sure its running clear before you turn it off. If at all possible, throw large portions of food away rather than sending it down the pipes. This will give your garbage disposal and your pipes a break, and help you get ready for the next holiday meal.