It's the most wonderful time of the year, as loved ones gather to celebrate holidays. And, with so many families feeling safe to gather this year compared to last year, Thanksgiving may mean squeezing quite a few people into one house — perhaps with only one or two bathrooms.
The odds are good that you'll have to deal with a plumbing issue while celebrating, even if it's just grabbing a plunger and resolutely approach an unpleasantly full or overflowing toilet. That's if you're lucky, though: A holiday gathering can easily turn into a plumbing nightmare.
Rather than crossing your fingers that there won't be any problems, take some concrete steps to reduce your chances of catastrophe.
Be kind to the garbage disposal
The disposal is not meant to be a trash can or compost bin. Definitely don't put bones down that drain, and it's also not wise to use it for potato peelings, pumpkin, or other fibrous vegetables, corn husks, eggshells, or even onion skins.
Onion skins, really? Yes, really. That outer layer "is so thin that it can pass through the disposal, missing the blades and wind up wedged in the drain, where it acts like a cargo net on a pickup, catching more items and holding them in place," according to the website.
A similar problem can occur with potato peels and the membrane on the underside of eggshells, which can "get loose and lodge in the drain or around the impeller (the rotor that throws waste against the wall-mounted blades)," according to Family Handyman.
If you do put something smelly down the drain, or you notice a strange odor from food particles getting lodged in your disposal, you can try putting chopped lemon slices down the drain to freshen things up. And after all the hard work your disposal does, it needs some extra strength. Try grinding ice cubes in the drain to sharpen the blades of the garbage disposal. This will improve the blades' efficiency and allow the disposal to perform better over time.
Rather than asking too much of your garbage disposal and having calamity ensue, put waste from meal prep and food left on plates into a compost pile, food waste container, or the trash can.
Go easy on the toilet paper
More people in one house means more people using the bathroom. And that means more flushing, and more toilet paper going down the drain. One easy way to reduce the amount of toilet paper being used is to supply the bathrooms with one-ply paper. People, especially kids, who tend to grab a lot no matter the thickness will have less to grab.
Another idea is to offer a spray bottle next to the toilet for people to clean themselves bidet-style — if you don't already have a bidet installed, something that became more popular in the United States after the great toilet paper shortage of 2020.
Finally, squeeze individual rolls of toilet paper so they're somewhat flattened and misshapen.
Keep hair out of drains
More people taking showers invariably means more hair potentially clogging up drains, so place hair catchers over tub and sink drains. Even if no one is showering during a one-day visit, it's normal to shed 50 to 100 hairs every day, so protect those drains.
If you run into any drainage problems after hosting, use a drain snake to fish out hair, Bob Oates Plumbing, Sewer & Rooter services recommends. It's easier than it looks and helps you avoid using harsh chemical cleaners.