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Plumber has been busy during pandemic

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 18 September 2020 at 7:40 am

Advice: Don’t flush wipes or put instant mashed potatoes in garbage disposal

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Tony Sanders, owner of Albion Bower’s Plumbing, tells how the pandemic has affected his business. He is shown here ready to unplug a drain in a customer’s basement.

ALBION – An Albion plumber has words of advice for homeowners during this pandemic.

Tony Sanders, owner of Albion Bower’s Plumbing, has encountered some very unusual problems during the past six months, most of them attributed to the pandemic.

First, many residents have been stuck at home and not able to work, so many have decided to tackle odd jobs around the house.

One call he got was from a lady whose garbage disposal wouldn’t work. It seems like she decided to clean out her cupboards in her spare time and throw out some outdated foods. This included packages of dry instant mashed potatoes, which she dumped down the drain, right out of the bag. When the moisture got to them, they set up and caused the disposal to explode.

Talking about garbage disposals, Sanders thought he would remind homeowners of other things one should never put down a garbage disposal, such as egg shells and coffee grounds. He said one thing homeowners should do regularly is fill their drain with ice and turn on the garbage disposal. It cleans it and helps with the smell, he said.

Another big problem has been caused by the toilet paper shortage. Customers were buying whatever they could get, which often turned out to be generic brands, some of which were thick, almost like paper towels. As a result they plugged toilets.

Sanders said it was almost impossible to believe the women who still try to flush their personal products down the toilet.

“I could send my kids to college on the money I’ve made from those calls,” he said.

With college kids home more, appliances are being used overtime. This also applies to septic systems.

Sanders and his stepfather Jim Arnold purchased Bailey’s Septic three years ago.

“You take an average 500 gallon septic system now being used twice as much or more, and it can’t handle it,” Sanders said.

Talking about toilets, Sanders warned homeowners who want to install those jet flush toilets in an older home.

“Those high-efficiency toilets use as little as .28 gallons of water, instead of the three and one-half gallons used by a traditional toilet,” Sanders said. “Now you have the old cast iron plumbing and not enough water to carry the waste through.”

Flushable wipes which everyone has been purchasing during the pandemic are really not flushable, Sanders said.

“Use all of them you want, but throw them in the trash,” he said. “People have to realize their toilet is not a magic portal to nowhere.”

In an average year, Sanders said his plumbing business would average five to seven normal calls a day. For three months straight during the pandemic, he has averaged eight to 12 calls a day, of which four to six were emergencies.

“I’ve been in business since 2007 and I’ve never seen a season like this,” he said.

For a while, Sanders said it seemed like firefighters, police and his crew were the only people out there.

He said it has started to level off, but with cold weather just around the corner, calls will begin to come in about frozen lines.

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