Have you ever had the unfortunate experience of your kitchen sink draining slowly, or your bathtub filling up with gross, slimy water during a shower? I’m betting you have! We’ve all been there – it’s super gross and annoying to deal with. Usually, the culprit behind these icky plumbing issues is grease build up in the pipes. Yep, all that oily, fatty residue from cooking and washing dishes coats the inside of your pipes over time and causes major clogs. Not fun!
Luckily, grease build up is something you can totally prevent. In this guide, I’ll walk you through exactly what causes greasy plumbing problems, how you can keep them from happening in your home, and what to do if you’re already dealing with clogged drains. Let’s get started!
What is Grease and How Does it Build Up?
When we talk about grease, we’re referring specifically to fats, oils, and grease – or FOG as the pros call it. This includes all sorts of cooking oils, butter, lard, meat juices, shortening, salad dressings, dairy products, and any other fatty foods or liquids. Anything oily, basically.
When FOG goes down your drain in large quantities, it sticks to the inside of your pipes as it cools. Over time, this builds up and hardens into a thick layer that clogs up your plumbing. It’s just like how the grease left on pans and dishes solidifies into a gross film after cooking. No one wants that in their pipes!
The main culprits that allow FOG into drains are:
- Pouring oils, fats, and meat juices down the drain after cooking
- Scrapping food waste into the garbage disposal
- Rinsing greasy dishes and pans in the sink before a full wash
- Letting dairy products like sour cream or mayo go down the drain
- Not cleaning sink strainers that collect food particles
Pretty much anything slippery, oily, or fatty has the potential to stick to your pipes when washed down a drain. So how can we stop this icky grease build up from happening? Read on for tips.
Key Effects of Grease Build Up
If you let grease continuously build up in your plumbing, you’ll unfortunately experience some pretty nasty consequences:
- Slow draining water from sinks, tubs, and toilets as clogs get worse over time.
- Raw sewage backing up into your home if main sewer lines are blocked. Super gross!
- Unpleasant odors from your drains as grease accumulates.
- Possible leaks and water damage if grease weakens your pipes.
- Sewage overflowing out of manholes onto streets if city sewer mains are congested.
- Excessive scraping and cleaning needed to remove grease from pipes.
As you can see, preventing grease build up is critical for your plumbing’s health and functioning. It also keeps the broader sewer system working properly and avoids environmental hazards from overflows.
Why Grease Prevention is Crucial
Beyond just being gross and smelly, here are some key reasons why preventing grease accumulation is so important for households and communities:
When sewers overflow due to excessive grease, raw sewage can end up in public spaces, waterways, or drinking supplies. This spreads harmful bacteria and illness.
Grease is the leading cause of sewer overflows, allowing waste to contaminate lakes, rivers, beaches, and groundwater. Preventing grease build up protects water quality.
Clogged pipes can burst and cause leaks, flooding, water damage, and mold. Grease prevention protects your home’s plumbing.
Fixing sewer main clogs costs municipalities tons of money in emergency maintenance and labor. Preventing grease before it enters the system saves public funds.
Excessive grease means pipes need frequent hydro-jetting, snaking, and cleaning – costing homeowners lots of money. Stopping grease at the source reduces maintenance costs.
Clearly, keeping grease out of pipes benefits both households and communities. But how do we actually do it?
Preventing Grease Build Up at Home
Preventing grease accumulation starts with being vigilant about best practices in your kitchen. Here are some easy habits you can build at home:
Scrap and Wipe Plates
Before washing dishes, use paper towels to wipe excess oils, butter, and food scraps off plates and pots. Toss the greasy paper towels in the trash.
Use Sink Strainers
Fit sink drains with fine mesh strainers to catch food particles. Empty strainers into the trash after washing dishes.
Avoid Drain Disposal
Never pour fats, oils, or meat juices down the drain after cooking. Let them cool and solidify, then trash them.
Collect Grease in Containers
Keep an empty can or jar to pour cooled cooking grease into before throwing it out. Foil-lined cups work too.
Monthly Drain Cleaning
Perform a monthly preventative drain cleaning using boiling water and baking soda to keep pipes clear.
Get an annual drain inspection and professional hydro-jetting to prevent serious build up before it happens.
With some diligent kitchen habits and proactive cleaning, you can keep grease from wreaking havoc in your household pipes. But what if you already have a greasy clog? Try these home remedies:
- Boil water mixed with baking soda and vinegar, then pour down the drain.
- Use a plunger immersed in hot water repeatedly to dislodge clogs.
- Try an enzyme-based drain cleaner product to break down grease deposits.
For serious backups or overflows, call a professional plumber to safely clear blockages using augers, high-pressure jetting, or cable machines. Don’t let grease take over your drains!
Commercial Kitchen Grease Prevention
Households aren’t the only ones dealing with grease – restaurants and other food service businesses have to be diligent about commercial grease management using specific equipment and practices.
Grease Traps and Interceptors
Food service establishments are required to install outdoor grease interceptors or indoor grease traps. These are containers designed to collect grease before it enters sewer lines. They must be sized and maintained properly based on the amount of grease generated.
Grease traps and interceptors need thorough cleaning at least every 30 days using vacuum trucks and proper disposal methods. More frequent cleaning is required if >25% full of grease. Proper records must be kept.
Kitchen staff at restaurants need training to scrape and wipe plates, collect waste oil, and prevent food scraps from going down drains. Avoiding grease disposal in commercial facilities is crucial.
Grease Removal Contractors
Professional grease hauling companies should handle trap and interceptor pumping and disposal. Licensed contractors must provide documentation and follow regulations.
With strict grease protocols, commercial kitchens can reduce sewer strains and avoid costly damages from leaks or overflows on their property. Preventing grease build up takes coordination and vigilance.
Signs You Have a Grease Clog
Watch for these common warning signs that indicate grease accumulation and clogging:
- Slow draining water or frequent “clogging” of sinks/tubs.
- Gurgling sounds from your drain lines as water struggles to pass through.
- Bad odors emanating from drains, especially when running water.
- Visible grease floating in sink water or coating pipes.
- Leaks, wet spots, or water damage around pipes as grease erodes seals.
- Sewage backing up or overflowing through manhole covers.
If you notice any of these, it’s time to take preventative action against grease build up!
Getting Help with Serious Clogs
For moderate or severe grease clogs, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber for assistance. Here are some services they provide:
- Hydro-jetting uses highly pressurized water to scour and dislodge grease deposits.
- Video camera inspection lets plumbers view grease accumulation and identify problem spots.
- Augering or drain snaking breaks through grease obstructions with mechanical force.
- Enzyme treatments help dissolve and digest layered grease over time.
- Grease trap pumping removes high volumes of grease from commercial systems.
Regular maintenance like annual drain cleaning, inspection, and jetting can prevent major grease headaches. Be proactive!
Now you know all about the icky truth of grease build up in pipes – and more importantly, how to prevent it! With some simple habitual changes like wiping plates, avoiding drain disposal, using strainers, and regular maintenance, you can defend your drains against slow, gross clogs.
Stay vigilant against grease accumulation in your household and commercial kitchen systems. Your pipes will flow freely, your sewers will run cleanly, and you’ll avoid expensive repairs down the road. Here’s to a grease-free future!