Every year, more than one billion pounds of pumpkins are produced in America - many of which are carved into jack-o'-lanterns each Halloween. That's a lot of leftover pulp. In addition to creating their own jack-o'-lanterns this year, Roto-Rooter plumbers from Death Valley, California to Salem, Massachusetts will spend many brisk fall days removing gobs of pulp and seeds from clogged drains before the end of the Halloween season.
Local Roto-Rooter plumbers have become as common a Halloween visitor as little vampires or ghosts thanks to sticky pumpkin pulp and seeds. In the two weeks leading up to Halloween, calls from frantic homeowners struggling with pulp-clogged garbage disposals and stopped up kitchen sink drains ring in to local Roto-Rooter offices faster than the Halloween candy dishes empty.
Roto-Rooter, America's largest provider of plumbing repair and sewer & drain cleaning services, reminds jack-o'-lantern carvers that pumpkin pulp should never be put down drains or into garbage disposals. The slimy gunk is ideal for clogging sink drains.
"People think that it's safe for disposals because it's soft, stringy and mushy. The problem is that pulp will dry and harden, choking off drainpipes and garbage disposals and creating all sorts of havoc," said Larry Rothman, plumbing director for Cincinnati-based Roto-Rooter Plumbing and Drain Service.
"For several years we've spread the word that carving pumpkins in the sink is a very bad idea," he added. "People assume when they shove the pulp down kitchen sink drain that it's gone, but in a little while the sink usually stops draining altogether." Rothman says it's also worth noting that Roto-Rooter gets several calls about pumpkin guts flushed down the toilet, usually with similar clog-causing results. "The toilet is not a better option. It just means the clog forms deeper into the pipe."
To prevent Halloween drain disasters, Roto-Rooter suggests carving pumpkins on a bed of newspaper.
Then carvers should wrap up the mess and throw all pumpkin-related materials into the garbage can or a compost pile. The seeds can be separated and roasted for a tasty treat or they can be air-dried and planted in the spring after the last frost to grow next year's Halloween pumpkin.