No holiday for plumbers

When it comes to shoveling food into hungry mouths at Thanksgiving, sometimes the mouth at the bottom of the sink eats the most.

Except in that case, the indigestion is felt by everyone in the house.

“Everything goes down the garbage disposal – everything they’ve got. That doesn’t always work,” said Jim Ceurvels, plumbing manager for P.M. MacKay plumbing in Nashua.

Traditionally, Thanksgiving – actually, the Friday after Thanksgiving – is the busiest time of the year for emergency plumbing calls, although Christmas can give it a run for the money.

“They’re the eating holidays,” joked Bill Trombly Jr., a Nashua plumber.

A combination of food, guests and a rush to get finished with the kitchen work can lead to stopped-up pipes and frantic calls.

“It comes down to urgency. Normally, if _somebody has a plugged kitchen sink, they could probably wait until the next day to get something done, but when you have a Thanksgiving dinner and a pile of dirty dishes, you don’t want to wait,” said Trombly.

The result is that Thanksgiving isn’t the calmest of holidays for plumbers.

“You could be sitting down with your own family, get a beep (on the pager), and depending on the emergency, head out,” said Trombly, a plumber for 15 years. “I’ve been at the point where I’ve gotten all ready for Thanksgiving, all dressed and showered, then gotten beeped (on the pager), gone out and fixed a plugged sewer, come back and showered again, then gotten beeped and had to go back out.”

Still, he said, “That’s what we get paid to do.”

Emergency calls can be expensive for homeowners – usually, there’s a $50 to $100 charge tacked on – and there’s no guarantee of getting help on a holiday. Some companies will only respond to calls from established customers on holidays, while small or one-person operations often take the day off.

Partly as a result, and partly because people delay clean-up, the day after Thanksgiving produces even more calls than the holiday itself.

“I’m in here at 6 o’clock (on Friday),” said Ceurvels. “It’ll be a long day.”

As for his own kitchen on Thanksgiving, Ceurvels has learned from years of putting mechanical snakes down clogged sinks.

“When I’m scraping off the plates, I just go right for the garbage can,” he said.