Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that makes the phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen” have meaning. In all of the chaos, you may end up with issues because the wrong things get thrown down the sink resulting in a clogged drain and maybe even a funky smell.
Yes, that’s right. Thanksgiving is full of friends, family, food and frenzy.
Thanksgiving hosts know that frenzied feeling of family and friends running around trying to help. It is with the best efforts that causes the mayhem and the kitchen becomes a mess. The dishes, all of those pots and pans make your kitchen look like a zoo.
Like so many things, our favorites cause the most damage. All of those delicious side dishes from the family secret potato dish to fruit cup appetizers are devilish on drains. The smaller food particles that avoid the trash by sticking to the plate and later get washed down the drain compile into a blockage especially on older drains!
Add extra guests to the mix and that small drainage issue in the bathroom can erupt into a full-fledged clogged drain. The extra water running through the pipes creates stress on the plumbing system, particularly an older system.
For those entertaining guests over Thanksgiving or any part of the holiday season consider contacting your trusted plumber if you have any small drainage issues. Nobody wants to explain to their mother-in-law why she can’t show on Sunday morning.
How to Avoid a Clogged Drain
As is frequently the case in home maintenance, preventative measures can go along way to avoid costly mistakes. Check out some quick tips to avoid clogged kitchen drains. First, make sure to avoid:
- pouring cooking oil (or fat) down the drain.
- putting poultry skins (chicken, turkey), starchy (potato peels, rice), stringy (celery) or fibrous waste (coffee grinds, corn husks) down the drain.
There are also things proactive things that help, like always:
- have the water running when you use the garbage disposal.
- let the garbage disposal “catch up” after waste is poured down the drain.
As for those houseguests, then these tips work all year, but will definitely help with potential drainage problems over the holidays.
The two big things are pretty simple. First, ask guests to wait about 10 minutes between showers because the drains need time to work (this is great for slowly working drains to prevent a clog while you have guests visiting). And always avoid flushing hair or wipes (including cotton balls) down the drain because they do not dissolve.
Basically, use common sense. Things that are hard drain will create a clogged drain if there are drainage issues. Even though machines seem indestructible, they do break down, so err on the side of caution and let them rest a little. If your drains are in great working order, then they should be able to handle the Thanksgiving dinner dishes with no problem.
How to Unclog a Sink
Sometimes things happen, so despite your best efforts, you may find yourself with a clogged drain. There are a few ways to unclog a sink and depending on your comfort and capabilities, there are some things to do yourself to attempt to fix any drainage issues before calling the specialists!
Listen to the Garbage Disposal
Often, the main reason for drainage issues is a clogged garbage disposal. If you turn on your garbage disposal (with the water running!) and hear a low hum instead of the healthy motor, then check the disposal!
- Turn the disposal off and unplug the unit.
- Check to make sure there are no tripped breakers in the fuse box.
- Attempt to clear the clog by turning the blades manually with an Allen wrench (there should be a hole at the bottom of the disposal).
- Plug in the disposal and turn it on (it might need a minute to cool off – if so, press the reset button on the bottom and try again).
If the drain persists, but the garbage disposal is clear and working, then there you will need to take some additional steps. As always, once you feel out of your element, then consider finding some help to avoid larger issues or injuries.
Remember the Plunger
Most of the time, minor drain issues can be fixed with a little DIY know how and elbow grease. One of the best tools to fix a clogged drain is the plunger! The most likely reason for the clog is something something stuck in the drain. So, if you remove the substance that is causing the backup, then the drain will be fine.
#1: partially fill the sink with water (if the drain is your kitchen sink with two sides, then cover the other side – possibly with a wet rag).
#2: work the plunger vigorously to break up the clog.
#3: remove any waste that comes into the sink because you don’t want to force it back down the drain.
Do not plunge the sink if you tried a commercial drain cleaner. Allow the drain cleaner to work through the sink because the chemicals are dangerous if they touch your skin while plunging the sink. In general using chemicals can do more harm than good on the drain pipes.
Baking Soda and Vinegar are Enemies
Baking soda and vinegar are mortal enemies, but you can combine their explosive reaction to unclog and clear your drain. Let science do its magic to help clear your clogged drain.
- Pour a pot of boiling water down the drain.
- Add about ½ cup of baking soda (let this sit for a few minutes).
- Combine 1 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of boiling water and pour down the drain.
- Explosion. (The baking soda and vinegar do not mix well.) Cover the drain and let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Flush the drain with another pot of boiling water.
If the clogged drain continues to persist, then consider calling a professional because you want to avoid larger issues. Plus, it’s the holidays and you’ll be able to spend time with your friends and family rather than stress about a clogged drain.
Is that your guest or your sink?
Sometimes, something just gets thrown down the sink and stay there. After a few hours it may start to smell. If the water is flowing well and there are no apparent drainage problems, but a funky stench remains, then you may just have an odor problem.
Again, baking soda and vinegar works!
The combination work wonders because the chemical reaction works to deodorize the drain. In addition, the explosion gets into the crevices of the garbage disposal to help avoid future smells from popping up.
To freshen up the smelly drain with baking soda and vinegar:
- start by running some hot water.
- pour ¼ cup of baking soda down the drain
- flip the garbage disposal on for a few seconds (with the water running!).
- leave the drain alone for 10-15 minutes.
- pour about one cup of vinegar down the drain to create a bubble eruption.
As always with baking soda and vinegar, let science work for a few minutes and then rinse the drain with some hot water. Finally, run the disposal for a couple of seconds to clear out any waste and particles of debris.
Additionally, there are a few quick fixes to show off your DIY prowess (that take a little less effort).
- Lemon Peels – throw some lemon (or orange) peels down the drain and run the garbage disposal. The citrus in the peels will help dissolve the smell.
- Ice – Fill the sink with a couple cups of ice and run the cold water with the garbage disposal. The blades grinding with the ice will help scour the buildup and help dissolve the smell.
As always, SolvIt is here to help. If there is a major drainage issue that is causing the clogged sink, then you likely have a larger problem that cannot be solved with DIY tips. It may be time to consult with a trusted professional and SolvIt is here 24/7 (everyday, including holidays), so feel free to contact us anytime and make sure the water runs smoothly all holiday season.