Brown Friday: What You Can Learn From Plumbers’ Busiest Day of the Year

Updated: Oct. 22, 2021

It’s not what you think. Learn why plumbers field so many service calls the day after Thanksgiving.

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Black Friday vs. Brown Friday

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “Brown Friday”? Some might know UPS holds a large seasonal hiring event also called Brown Friday. Others who learn plumbers have dubbed the day after Thanksgiving “Brown Friday” immediately think the obvious. Brown Friday must refer to those clogged toilets — right?

Plumbers insist that’s not true, though it does indicate how busy they are right after the holiday. Mr. Rooter Plumbing, a company that operates across North America, reports a 50 percent increase in service calls the day after Thanksgiving. But most aren’t for toilets. Instead, the most common Black Friday issues are clogged sinks and jammed garbage disposals.

“[It’s] the one day that everybody gets together and makes a big family meal, brings everybody over, and of course, they make more food than anybody can eat and everybody eats more food than they probably should eat,” says Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing. “When they’re all done they have to figure out what do they do with the leftovers and the grease and the potato peels and everything else that goes along with all the things that they made that day.”

Public Enemy Number One: Grease

Since more people are serving large feasts on Thanksgiving Day than an average weeknight, there tend to be more people pouring things down the drain without thinking about the consequences.

Grease, for instance.

Any plumber will tell you that’s the wrong way to dispose of grease. When warmed grease hits a cold pipe, it solidifies and sticks. Over time the grease builds up, plugs up the works and becomes incredibly difficult to remove. Some people aren’t aware of this, so unclogging the resulting mess tends to be a common problem plumbers encounter the day after.

Public Enemy Number Two: Potato Peels

Potato peels are one of these 15 things that you should never put down your garbage disposal, so be wary of that during your Thanksgiving clean up! “You know a lot of people have a garbage disposal and that garbage disposal grinds everything up,” James says. “They think that as long as it makes it through the disposal it’s good.”

Grease and potatoes aren’t something people typically worry about around Thanksgiving, but together they form the primary culprits for blockages. Bones down a drain can also be a common issue, but grease and potatoes still take the top spots.

“A lot of times the drain itself already has accumulation from the use over the years,” James says. “And then you throw the initial stuff down there that sops it right up.”

Proper Disposal and Composting Options

Instead of pouring grease down the nearest drain, let it cool, place it into a container and throw in the trash. Waiting for the grease to cool and solidify is key. You don’t want to burn a hole in your container.

James recommends composting biodegradable products. Potatoes, potato peels and even vegetable peelings can all be composted. Composting is an environmentally-friendly way to dispose of those food scraps, and it’s easy to do.

Here are a few other ways to prevent plumbing problems this holiday season, courtesy of Mr. Rooter Plumbing.

Guide to Avoiding “Brown Friday” Plumbing Issues

  • Do not throw bones, fibrous foods (potato peels, cornhusks, carrots, onion skins) down the garbage disposal. They wrap around the blades and damage the motor. Toss them in compost instead.
  • Dispose of grease in a container instead of pouring it down the drain. Toss the container only after the grease has solidified.
  • Make sure the water is running when feeding food scraps into the disposal. Citrus peels are great for fixing a smelly garbage disposal.
  • Wipe off greasy pans before washing them.
  • If your garbage disposal is having issues, do not operate the dishwasher.
  • If you have multiple people showering, make sure to use a mesh strainer to catch hair
  • Avoid flushing wipes, feminine products and other non-dissolvable products down the toilet. Here are 12 things you should never flush down the toilet.