Brown Friday: How plumbers suggest homeowners should prepare for the holiday season

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(ABC4) – Somehow, he missed it.

Never in his 40-plus year career in plumbing had Duane Nielsen ever heard the expression “Brown Friday,” an industry term that plays on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, which can be one of the busiest days of the year for a plumber.

After a quick Google search, Nielsen, who works as Assistant Technical Manager and Customer Service Specialist at Any Hour Services, laughs and says it’s a very fitting term.

“It definitely is a thing,” he explains to ABC4.com. “The holiday seasons, we get pretty busy with all the backups. I meant it’s kind of self-explanatory. When you think of sewers backing up, it’s definitely brown. So that would be a good term.”

At the risk of over-explaining, it does add up that the day after Thanksgiving would put a massive strain on home plumbing systems. All that turkey and stuffing eventually finds its way down the toilet. Nielsen adds that the challenges of repeated flushing can be exacerbated when done in an older home, like say, the one grandma and grandpa live in.

Add in the combination of other family members preparing the food and sending some of the scraps or remains down through the garbage disposal and Black Friday can turn Brown quickly and easily. As delightful as gathering a family together for the holiday season might be, it can be a nightmare on the plumbing system.

“When you host that many people at a home, it definitely puts a strain on everything, especially if they’re staying there overnight or for the week,” Nielsen says.

There are some things that can be done to mitigate the impact that the holidays can have on a home’s plumbing. Nielsen recommends that folks looking to host a gathering consider a plumbing inspection or having a water heater flush done to ensure that plenty of hot water will be on hand. It’s also essential to know what should and especially – shouldn’t – go down the drain.

One of the biggest things that Nielsen implores potential Brown Friday customers to avoid, pouring the grease into the sink.

“Grease might be okay when you pour it down the drain but as soon as the cold water hits it, it solidifies,” he explains. “And can that can happen anywhere along the pipeline.”

Other items that don’t dissolve, such as wet wipes, feminine hygiene products, and hair could also cause a blockage in the drain system. Turkey bones and other fibrous Thanksgiving foods would also be better served going in the garbage, rather than in the disposal where they can wrap themselves around the blades and cause damage.

And should a home be hosting family members for multiple days, there are other things to consider besides food, both pre and post-digestion. Preventing multiple heads from dropping loose hair down the drain in the shower is has an easy solution.

“When you got multiple people showering, maybe put a little mesh strainer over the shower drain to catch the hair,” Nielsen recommends. “That would be a good one to get at the hardware stores.”

He also suggests grabbing a plunger for each toilet at the store, just in case.

When Turkey Day comes around later this month, Neilsen and his fellow plumbers at Any Hour Services will take the day off to celebrate with their families. It’s also not a stretch to imagine they’ll be resting up for the madness that will follow the next day, on Brown Friday.

“We’ll have guys on call, ready to come out,” he says. “It’s always busy.”

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