The impact of fat, oil and grease on your drains

Though it should be common knowledge, there are some surprising statistics about the effect of pouring any fat, oil and grease down your drains. Southern Water is one of the utility firms that are trying to make all customers aware of the dangers, encouraging everybody to make some small changes at home and businesses.

The impact

Fat, oil and grease (FOG) account for 75 percent of drain and sewer blockages reported to Southern Water, usually coming from residual food-prep fat, oil, butter, margarine or lard that has been poured down the sink in impatience.

Over £15 million has been spent on clearing FOG blockages across the country, with 3000 homes flooded because of it every year. As it collects in pipes and sewer systems the FOG solidifies into a material as thick as concrete, restricting the flow of wastewater and causing it to back up through sinks and toilets and potentially escape through manholes in the streets.

Adding to the rising pollution in the country, the issue affects networks, homes and businesses and often puts wastewater pumping stations out of action meaning teams upon teams of operative work is needed to keep our sewers flowing smoothly.

Environmental effects

As the fat jams cause household appliances to be plumbed incorrectly, dirty waste water is in hand pumped into the streams and rivers rather than to cleaning treatment works. Undeniably, sewers flooding into your neighbourhood and polluting streams have a harmful effect on the environment; human errors that can be eradicated quite simply.

Effects on homes and businesses

Besides the environmental issues, FOG blockages can be costly to businesses who fail to dispose of waste properly. Simple changes can be made to avoid expensive repairs that often mean businesses have to close while they are being done.

To prevent kitchen FOG build ups you should ideally be wiping and scraping plates and utensils of all foodstuffs and disposing of it in the main rubbish bin before washing them. Strainers should be used in the plughole to collect any food so none is flushed down the pipes.

It’s useful to pour or scrape any grease or oily food waste into a container or jar, allowing it to cool before throwing it away in the usual waste. You can also use fat traps to collect excess oil if you think you will need to dispose of it often.

In the bathroom pipes are usually only four inches wide, so despite the packaging of some wet wipes they are not suitable to be flushed down the toilet. Only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed.

Whose responsibility is a blocked sewer?

If you are a customer of Southern Water you can call them to establish whether a FOG build-up is a public or private problem. If they determine that the issue lies in your private drain you must contact a drainage company independently, who can resolve it for you.

If Southern Water are unable to conclude where the FOG has come from over the phone they will arrange a visit to examine the pipes. They will ask you to sign a consent form if they find the blockage is in your private drain and they will clear it if it can be done quickly.

There are many other companies who offer free fat and oil collection. Ensure the waste carrier is a part of the Environment Agency and the fat will go onto be recycled, producing fuel and generating electricity.