Holiday plumbing problems

Thanksgiving is all about food and family - and frequently, a little too much of both.

And while it's always good to spend what time we can with our families, any time you have that many people under one roof, sometimes the added strain can be too much for your household plumbing to handle.

Every holiday, plumbers in Amarillo respond to hundreds more calls than usual as people unwittingly overload their plumbing systems. One common mistake people make is thinking that if their garbage disposal can handle cleanup, then so can their drain.

"Garbage disposals are mainly just to help with leftover food particles that you missed - everything else should go in the trash can," says Jason Shreiner of Shreiner Plumbing. "You're going to get a little bit of grease and things like that on your plates, but never directly pour grease down the drain. It will eventually stop it up. It may not today, but next month it will."

Shreiner likened grease in a pipe to cholestorol in an artery - it generally sticks around the outside, and gradually builds up to the point of creating an impasse. And many people mistakenly assume that hot water will help melt the grease, when actually it only moves it farther down the pipe.

"If your drain is running now, grease is normally around the walls of the pipe," explains Shreiner. "Then if you hit it with a real hot blast, or you're boiling some water and you dump it down the drain, it may wash it down the line a little bit, but then it'll all stop in one spot. Then once it hardens up, then you get a blockage."

Instead, you should counterintutively use cold water, which will solidify the grease and make it easier to break up into smaller pieces. And always run cold water while using your garbage disposal for the same reason.