One can only imagine what the sewer system beneath them might be holding, and it does not bring any pleasant pictures to mind. Most probably imagine a dark, damp, dingy tunnel filled with waste and rats the size of a household pet. But what is really lurking under there? Most wouldn’t picture a grease blockage the size of a large bus accumulating inside a sewer drain.
But this is exactly what they found inside a London, England sewer system that could have caused a catastrophic drain failure, and not to mention raw sewage pouring into the streets. These “fatbergs” are no joke, and can be disastrous if not taken care of immediately. If grease can clog a tunnel as big as a city sewer system, imagine what it is doing to the drains in your home or facility and the local sewer system?
How and Why Fatbergs Form
Fatbergs are large lumps of grease that collect in the sewer system, that build up over time from fat, oil and grease discharged into the drains from private houses and restaurants. Fat, oil, grease, and solids (known in the water treatment industry as FOGS) enter the drainage systems from washing of pots, pans, plates and utensils or deliberate dumping of grease into sinks.
Some common products that contribute to the accumulation of fatbergs are animal fats, vegetable oil, lard, grease, butter, margarine, food scraps, and dairy products. FOGS can easily enter the drain-line in liquid form when washed down with warm water, however once FOGS enter the cool pipes, they come out of suspension and form a sticky coating on the walls of the pipe-work. Left untreated this fatty coating will build up and in doing so will clog and cause a blockage in the pipe, leading to a very messy and costly cleanup.
Effects of Fatbergs
By restricting the flow through the sewer system, fatbergs can cause flooding, backups, and directly lead to pollution of local rivers and coastal areas. Fatbergs can cause raw sewage to backup, and flood into local homes, streets, and waterways. Contaminating and polluting everything the raw sewage comes in contact with. The consequences of fatbergs are not only disgusting, but detrimental to health and the environment.
How to Prevent Fatbergs
Households and restaurant businesses are the main contributors to the buildup of fatbergs. Steps can be taken at home to monitor what you are putting down your sink drain. For restaurants, grease traps are one of the best ways to eliminate FOGS from entering drainage pipes and causing major blockage issues. Here are some helpful tips and best practices when it comes to disposing of FOGS and preventing fatberg buildups.
- Scrape plates and utensils for excessive grease and solids and put this in your compost receptacle before washing them.
- Dispose of grease in a properly marked container.
- Have a protocol for spills, including having a spill kit for such emergencies (many hardware and auto parts stores sell Oil Dri, a powerful oil absorbent).
- Be sure that your grease trap is in the best shape it can be. Grease traps should be free of holes, have intact baffles, a proper inlet and outlet, a securely fastened lid, and should be in accordance with local and state plumbing codes.
- Avoid using chemicals to treat smell or “disintegrate” grease within the trap. These rarely work and are strongly discouraged by waste water plants.
- New food service establishments should ensure that the grease trap is placed in a spot that is easily serviced, promoting health and safety for all.
Food Grease Trappers can properly arm you with the knowledge you need to protect against FOGS. Grease traps dispose of FOGS correctly, and help prevent clogs from building up in your pipes and prevent fatbergs. This best method for protecting your facility’s drain system against FOGS, along with a regular servicing schedule. Contact Food Grease Trappers to learn more about our grease trap installations and services, and why we’re the best in the business!