Most of us don’t try to shove large pieces of food waste down our drains, but what about the grease that results from cooking? Have you ever emptied a frying pan down your drain? Maybe your plumber told you it’s not good to pour used cooking oil down the sink, but why is that? What really happens when grease enters your pipes?
Fats, oil, and grease, otherwise known as “FOG,” pose a significant threat to household pipes. Similar to the way that fat can cause blockages in human arteries, FOG can solidify and cling to your home’s pipes. Once it begins to build up around the pipe linings, it can accumulate over time and create blockages that lead to sewer backups and overflows. This means that wastewater can end up flooding your home or your street, causing costly damages and potential environmental harm if the overflow reaches storm drains that lead to local waterways.
So, how do we prevent this? Never pour FOG down the drain or garbage disposal! Even small amounts can build up over time. Just because you’ve never experienced a clog does not mean that one is not developing in your pipes. Here are a few alternatives to pouring FOG down the drain:
• Use paper towels or a rubber scraper to remove FOG from pots, pans, and dishes before washing. Soak it up and wipe any residue with a paper towel and place the greasy paper towel into your trash can.
• If you have larger quantities of cooking oil or grease, allow it to cool and collect it in a sturdy container like a tin can or milk jug. Check with your solid waste management district to see if used cooking oil is recycled in your community. If not, place the collected oil in the trash. You might mix FOG with absorbent material like shredded newspaper or cat litter, to keep it from making a mess in your kitchen, curbside trash bin, and the waste hauler’s truck.
• Have your home’s pipes checked by a professional who can identify any looming problems caused by FOG build-up.
To see just what grease build up looks like in household pipes, check out our previous post, Careful with the grease after that feast!
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