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Why Pouring Grease Down the Drain Is a Bad Idea: FOG Dos and Don’ts

Certified Plumbing of Brevard - November 3, 2023 - 0 comments

Picture it: you’ve finally gathered the family together under one roof for the holiday season and you’ve enjoyed a great meal. Aunt Cheri offers to clean up afterward and unknowingly pours gravy down the kitchen sink. Now you’ve got a clogged sink and mountains of dishes. What do you do?

Pouring grease down the drain is a common household problem that most homeowners face at some point in their lives. However, pouring grease down pipes is just the beginning of the story–did you know that dumping your extra cooking fat down the drain can cause municipal problems as well? 

If you (or your well-intentioned Aunt Cheri) accidentally poured grease down the drain, fear not–an expert from Certified Plumbing will step in and get your pipes back to working order so you can focus on family. Never step out of the holiday spirit with the experienced professionals at Certified Plumbing on your team! 

Is Grease Bad for Pipes?

The short answer to this question is yes! Cooking grease and oil will build up in your pipes over time and cause a clog if you aren’t diligent with your fat disposal during kitchen cleanup. Not only can grease damage your drain or garbage disposal, but it can also cause problems for your sewage system as well. A backed-up sewer line is the last thing a homeowner wants as they welcome their family into their home for the most festive time of the year. This is one reason why it is imperative to routinely clean your drains. 

Why Pouring Grease Down Drains a Bad Idea

It might seem like pouring a little bit of fat down the drain every now and then can’t possibly hurt–but fat deposits stick to each other and build up over time. This can cause a total or partial clog that inhibits your draining system from working properly–which is inconvenient for homeowners at best, especially if the clog occurs deep within the plumbing, and especially if the clog occurs over the holidays. Skip the embarrassment of a clogged drain and enjoy your holiday vacation with comfort and ease.

Can Grease Go Down the Garbage Disposal?

The impellers on your garbage disposal are part of what makes your disposal unit an incredible tool–but they cannot work miracles and prevent chemical reactions from happening. Even if you pour liquid fat down the drain, this does not mean it will remain liquid throughout the entire network of your plumbing system. As the fat cools, it solidifies–and catches other oil particles passing through. This causes a compounding clog that can grow rapidly and without warning.

Despite common misconception, even pouring hot water down your drain with your cooking oil cannot fully prevent clogs from forming. In fact, it may simply push the clog even deeper into your plumbing. 

What Is FOG? 

FOG, or Fat, Oil, and Grease, is a common acronym used by plumbers and municipal sewage workers to refer to compounding residues that can be found in plumbing and sewer systems. These fats compound on top of each other and create clogs and clumps sometimes referred to as “fatbergs” (via Michigan State University). These can cause municipal sewage blocks that are costly, time-consuming, and hazardous to clean up.

Why Is FOG Reduction Important?

Perhaps the biggest threat to optimal sewage disposal is FOG tossed down the drain by restaurants, homeowners, and other wastewater discharge sites. This seemingly small act can add up over time, resulting in fatbergs that can clog entire sewage systems with a fatty, waste-saturated mess. Needless to say, this can cost larger cities like Columbus around $2,000 to clean up (via The City of Columbus)–and while costs are a little lower for homeowners with FOG problems, the true key to preventing FOG buildup is prevention. 

Even if you aren’t preoccupied with your home plumbing costs, FOG can cost your city thousands of dollars a year–which comes out of your taxes. Wouldn’t you rather have that money go towards improving roads, education, or maintaining your central downtown? According to Forbes, the national cost to snake a drain is roughly $250–so save yourself (and your hardworking city municipal workers) the trouble and properly dispose of your leftover cooking grease!

Can You Pour Bacon Grease Down the Drain? And Other FOG Dos and Don’ts

Pouring bacon grease down the drain is not a good idea. Typically homeowners only make this mistake once before they learn their lesson–and if the bill for a clogged drain never arrives, they’re simply kicking the can down the road and causing problems for the city (and for their wallet in the form of taxes). You don’t have to be a FOG perpetrator! Here are some common FOG best practices and things to avoid:

  • DON’T: Do not flush your grease down the drain with hot water and hope for the best. This will likely still result in a clog and simply pushes the problem deeper into your plumbing.
  • DO:  Allow your cooking grease to completely cool before scraping it into the trash, reserving it for later cooking (as with bacon grease), or absorbing it with paper towels. Wiping down your pots and pans before washing can help prevent unwanted fats from entering your plumbing and can save you time and money. 
  • DON’T: Your garbage disposal is a powerful machine, but it cannot chemically alter the nature of FOG–so don’t run it thinking it will prevent the oils from building up in your drain. Fats will congeal in your pipes and even in your garbage disposal, rendering them sub-optimal and causing expensive problems for the homeowner. 
  • DO: If you’re in a time crunch and you need to cool extra fat quickly, consider freezing the fat before throwing it away. 
  • DON’T: Don’t assume that dish soap or home remedies like baking soda and vinegar will clear the fat from your pipes. While these may dislodge fat particles initially, they will likely only be pushed deeper into the pipes.
  • DO: If you have a clogged drain, hot water, soap, and home remedies will not solve the root of the problem. Contact a professional team like Certified Plumbing and experience the peace of mind that comes with knowing your cleanup routine is no longer put on pause. And don’t forget what you take care of today, you save tomorrow in taxes! 

What Breaks Down Grease in Pipes?

As you can see, it pays to be mindful of what goes down your drain. However, accidents do happen–so what do you do if you’ve poured grease down the pipes? Let’s look at the top three ways to remove grease clogs at home.

  1. Use a plunger: While it might seem strange, using a plunger on your kitchen sink can at least dislodge what’s clogging your pipes and allow for things to drain. This is a great trick to have up your sleeve in the event of a drain emergency. Simply place the plunger over the drain and push and pull gently until the drain is responsive. 
  2. Use a chemical drain buster: These are designed to bust up soap residue, hair, and grease stuck in your pipes and can do all the hard work for you–provided you have time to wait for it to do its magic. However, this is not always suitable in the instance of kitchen plumbing, as kitchen sinks are commonly plumbed with plastic. Chemical drain cleaners can corrode this type of plumbing–so be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions when in doubt. 
  3. Call in a professional to snake it for you: If your plunger fails you and you have fragile pipes not optimal for chemical drain cleaner, it may be time to call in the big guns. An experienced plumbing team will be able to get your pipes flowing smoothly again so you can get back to business as usual as soon as possible. Certified Plumbing has decades of experience in the industry worrying about FOG so you don’t have to! Start your journey to healthy plumbing with us–especially as the holidays loom–and enjoy smooth holiday festivities where you can focus on family. 

Accidentally Poured Grease Down Pipes or Garbage Disposal? Call Certified Plumbing!

As a homeowner, few things are more frustrating than dealing with a clogged drain. It can be debilitating, preventing you from using your sink or dishwasher until you figure out a solution. And while there are many things that can cause a clog, fats, oils, and grease are some of the most common culprits. The best way to prevent a clogged drain in your home is to be mindful of what you’re putting down your sink. Pouring grease down pipes can quickly lead to a clog that is difficult to remove. By using preventative measures to keep FOG (fats, oils, and grease) out of your pipes, you’ll be able to keep your drains flowing freely and feel the relief of a clog-free kitchen. 

Find yourself in a plumbing pickle? Start your journey towards a clog-free kitchen today with Certified Plumbing! Get your questions answered at 321-676-0812!

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