The build-up of fats, oil and grease in the drainage and sewer systems can cause serious problems. Overtime these build up within the drainage pipes and eventually leading to blockages: In fact, fats, oils, and grease are one of the most common causes of drain blockages.
How fats cause drain blockages
Most people are aware that fats should not be poured down the sink, however even if you are careful not to pour any oil directly down the sink, small amounts will inevitably manage to make their way down the sink and into the drainage system when you washup greasy pots, pans, plates and cutlery – even using the dishwasher will result in some fats and oils entering the drainage system. As well as fats, oils and grease; fat and oil based soap products can also contribute to the accumulation of fatty deposits.
Although the fats, oil and grease are normally in liquid form when they enter the drainage system, they can quickly begin to harden, and solidify, once they come into the colder water in the drainage pipes. Overtime more and more fat, oil and grease begins to solidify around the lining of the drain pipes until it begins to interfere with the flow of water and eventually lead to blocked drains.
Minimizing the amount of fat and grease in drains
The best preventative method is to minimize the amount of fat, oil and grease that goes into the drainage system. Some general recommendations:
- Don’t pour fat down the sink, instead pour fat into a jar, or bottle. Once it’s cooled the fat can then be disposed of with your household waste.
- Scrape as much food as possible from plates, pans and trays before washing or putting in the dishwasher.
- Use sink strainers in plug holes to catch larger bits of food waste, before it enters the sink hole.
- Washing greasy pans, plates and cutlery in a sink of hot water. This will help to dilute the grease, and the hot water will help to reduce accumulation of fatty deposits in the drain system.
- Routinely pouring some hot water down the sink can also help to reduce the accumulation of fatty deposits.
Cleaning fat from drains
If the blockage is not too far along from the sink then there are a few options that may help to clear the blockage:
Hot water – in some cases pouring hot water from a kettle may be enough to clear the blockage. This can be useful for clearing fats, especially if the blockage is due to fats that have only recently been poured down the sink, and the blockage is not far down the pipe.
Drain plunger – a drain plunger can be useful for minor blockages, and can be used in conjunction with other methods such as hot water,
Drain rods – drain rods can be effective for clearing a blockage providing it isn’t too far along the pipe.
Baking soda and white vinegar blockage treatment – this is often effective for fat, oil and grease blockages that are not too far along the sink. For this treatment: 1) pour a small cup of baking soda down the blocked drain/sink; 2) Pour a small cup of white vinegar down the sink; 3) wait 20-30minutes 4) Use a plunger to help dislodge any blockage; 5) Run the hot tap or pour hot water from the kettle down the sink; 6) Continue to use the plunger (employ caution with the hot water); 7) Repeat the process if necessary.
Chemical sink and drain unblocker – if the baking soda/white vinegar method is ineffective then a chemical sink and drain unblocker may prove more effective. As with the baking soda/white vinegar treatment this is only effective for blockages that are not too far along the drain.
If you’ve tried all the treatments and the drain remains blocked, then it’s time to consider calling a professional drainage contractor. The drain contractor will have a number of solutions available to clear blocked drains due to fat build up, including specialist plumbing rods, commercial drain clearing chemicals, and high pressure drain jetting equipment.