Yes, Brown Friday is a thing.

It’s not about the gingerbread, or the holiday deals. It’s about the drains. Here’s how to protect yours.

An AI-generated image of a gingerbread bathroom.

Plumbers refer to the Friday after Thanksgiving as Brown Friday because of the surge of holiday calls they receive. Most are related to sink issues but toilets also end up on their priority lists.

Are they all directly due to a surge in plumbing issues on thanksgiving? Maybe yes, maybe no.

Yes, holiday-specific problems can and do occur: clogged disposals, backed-up toilets, and the like. But more often than not, the increased drain activity on Thanksgiving may actually be more of a revelation of problems that had been building in the months prior.

If drains aren’t snaked regularly, or if grease and fats are commonly poured down a drain, or if solids like wipes are flushed on the regular, the activity on a busy holiday is often what puts the problem over the top — and backup into your home.

Here’s hoping your holidays are clog free. If they haven’t been, or if you want to avoid a holiday plumbing emergency call, here’s what you can do:

  • Don’t flush wipes. Only TP and bodily waste down your toilet, please.
  • Don’t overwork your garbage disposal. no grains, starches, potato peels, carrot peels, fats, bones, or grease.
  • Consider snaking your drain regularly. There are also eco-friendly ways to clear drains when you start to see a slower flow. Check our Healthy Home handbook for suggestions.
  • Know where your water shut-offs are. When a toilet starts to back up or if your home’s water supply needs to be stopped quickly, don’t be caught searching for the valves you need. Know where your toilets’, sinks’, and whole-house shut-offs are located in case of emergencies, including a burst or frozen water line in cold weather.
  • Lastly, and this is more of a courtesy, stock your bathrooms with easy-to-see toilet paper and a plunger. Guests are embarrassed enough if things don’t flow the way they should in a host’s bathroom. Keep the supplies they need easy to see and reach so they can act quickly instead of being caught between a clog and a hard place.

Our wastewater treatment service costs less than 2 cents a gallon. A Thanksgiving plumber call is considerably more expensive.

The cheapest of all? Might be that ounce of prevention before your next holiday.



Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

Official Medium channel of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in Cleveland, OH