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Protect Your Pipes This Thanksgiving: Don’t Pour Fats, Oils and Grease Down Your Sink

Post Date:11/27/2019 4:00 PM

Cartoon picture of turkey holding a sign that says "Can the grease! Don't let sewe grease clogs ruin the holidays!!!" 

Blocked drains can ruin your holiday festivities. While it may seem practical and harmless to get rid of fats, oils and grease (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. 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. 

The following clean-up tips will help keep FOG out of your pipes:

  • 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. Using a garbage disposal or food grinder 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.

Start of a blocked pipe begins when grease and solids collect on the top and sides of the pipe interior. The build-up increases over time when grease and other debris are washed down the drain. Excessive accumulation will restrict the flow of wastewater and can result in a sanitary sewer overflow.

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