Fat, Oil, Grease: 3 Things to Never Put Down the Drain


Fatty yellow liquid splotches around the drain of a metal kitchen sink.

Fats, oil, and grease, also known as FOG, are natural byproducts of food preparation and cooking. They’re also leading contributors to plumbing issues in your home and sewer damage in your municipality. Communities spend billions of dollars every year unplugging grease-blocked pipes, repairing pump stations and cleaning up costly and illegal wastewater spills.

Don’t contribute to the problem. Oil, grease or fat blockage in drain pipes is a common issue for homeowners. Dumping grease down the drain is an easy plumbing mistake to make if you don’t know that it’s slowly blocking your sewer line. Learn what FOG can do to your plumbing and how to prevent grease build up in pipes.

How Fats, Oil, and Grease Build Up in Pipes

A removed pipe choked with fatty buildup.

That seemingly benign bit of grease at the bottom of the pan may not seem like a big deal but when FOG gets poured down the drain, it can coat the inside of your pipes. Overtime, that coat becomes thicker and thicker. Those oils and fats will cool and harden, eventually forming a blockage. 

Sewer systems are not designed to handle or treat these substances in excess and they can cause major damage over time. Without proper disposal, FOG build up in sewer systems occurs and eventually blocks collections pipes and sewer lines. This can result in sewer backups and overflows on streets, properties, businesses, and even in residential homes. Not to mention, overflows may also impact the environment negatively by contaminating ponds, steams, or rivers.

What Causes FOG Damage?

There are many commonly used foods that contain fats, oil, and grease that can cause damage to your drain. Be especially mindful when cleaning up after cooking with these foods:

  • Meat Fats
  • Sauces
  • Soups
  • Oil
    • Dairy Products
    • Butter/Margarine
    • Shortening/Lard
    • Dressings/Batters  

How Can I Minimize Fat in Drain Pipes?

Frying Pan with Grease

Cleaning, Canning & Catching

Clean cooking utensils and dishes by wiping them off with a paper towel. Make sure to use a disposable paper towel that will be thrown away in the garbage, instead of a cloth towel that would need to be washed and eventually lead to grease in your drains. Pour used cooking grease into a can or empty container and throw it away once it’s cooled. Catch greasy food scraps in your sink with a basket or strainer.

Grease Traps & Interceptors

A grease trap/interceptor is a plumbing device that collects and prevents oils and grease from entering the sewer system. Using the interceptor, the grease and oils rise to the surface inside and are trapped using a system of baffles while allowing wastewater to flow out. If you choose to use an interceptor, it’s important to keep up with maintenance:

  • Have it pumped once every 90 days by a licensed waste hauler.
  • Keep a copy of the manifest (service document) provided by the waste hauler each pump out.
  • Don’t use additives in the interceptor.

Don’t Wash Grease Down with Hot Water

Washing grease off with warm water might appear helpful for cleaning it off, but it is actually doing more harm than good. As the liquid cools, the grease or fat thickens and causes build-up on the interior of pipes and other surfaces. This holds true for garbage disposals as well. Always run cold water when using your disposal so that any fats harden and get diced up. 

Being informed is the first step, now go implement FOG prevention in your own home.

How To Dissolve Grease in Pipes: Three Methods

If your drains are draining slowly or gurgling as they drain, it could indicate a FOG clog. Here are three methods you can try to loosen the clog:

  1. Squeeze a good amount of grease-cutting dish detergent down the drain and chase it with a pot of boiling water.
  2. Pour a mixture of boiling water and white vinegar down the drain.
  3. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar. Wait 15 minutes and follow it with a pot of boiling water.

If none of these methods do the trick, it may be time to call the professionals.

Call Us for A Grease Clogged Drain

Cleaning your drain will help, but when it comes to major clogs, Mike Diamond Services is the best. Our Smell Good Plumbers are experts at drain cleaning. They can use methods like hydro jetting to remove stubborn clogs that other methods can’t get. For fast service, schedule your appointment online today.



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