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Protect Your Pipes This Holiday Season

Post Date:12/04/2017 11:18 AM

Image of Cartoon Turkey Holding "Can the Grease" Sign

This holiday season, utilities across Brevard County have joined together to remind residents to protect their pipes by keeping FOG — fats, oils and grease — out of the sewer system.

FOG comes from a variety of food sources, including food scraps, cooking oil, shortening, lard, butter, margarine, gravy, mayonnaise, salad dressings, and sour cream. While it may seem practical and harmless to get rid of FOG by rinsing it off your dishes or pouring it down the kitchen sink, doing so can lead to huge problems and expensive repairs down the road.

Oils and grease rinsed down the drain can congeal and block your sewer, which may require you to call a plumber.

As liquid grease and fats cool, they solidify and build up inside the pipes, ultimately becoming a hardened mass that restricts the flow of sewage and clogs pipes (see the diagram below).

Clogged sewer pipes can in turn cause untreated wastewater to back up into homes and businesses, or to overflow from manholes into parks, yards, streets and storm drains.

Here is a list of steps you can take to protect your pipes and the greater sewer system from FOG:

  • Never pour cooking oil, pan drippings, bacon grease, salad dressings or sauces down the sink or toilet or into street gutters or storm drains.
    • Recycle used cooking oil or properly dispose of it by pouring it into a sealable container and placing the sealed container in the trash.
    • To recycle large amounts of oil and grease, such as what’s left over from frying a turkey, contact a local recycler. Or mix clay cat litter, a little at a time, into the oil. When all the oil has been absorbed, pour the cat litter into a trash bag, seal the bag, then dispose of it in your regular trash.
  • Dispose of food scraps into the trash, not the sink.
    • Don’t use a garbage disposal or food grinder. Grinding food up before rinsing it down the drain does not remove FOG; it just makes the pieces smaller.
    • Place a catch basket or screen over the sink drain when rinsing dishware, or when peeling or trimming food, to catch small scraps that would otherwise be washed down the drain. Throw the scraps in the trash.
  • Scrape pots and pans or use paper towels to remove all oil and grease before washing them.

Blocked drains can ruin your holiday festivities. A few simple clean up steps like these will help protect the pipes in your home. Keeping FOG out of the sewer system helps everyone in the community.

Sewer blockage formation diagram courtesy of City of Cocoa

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