There are three reasons why you should never pour grease down the sink drain: your home’s plumbing, your neighborhood and the environment. Rinsing liquid grease from your pan directly down the sink may seem harmless, but it’s not, and it could end up costing you thousands in unexpected plumbing fees and property damage.
Oil and Grease Damage Your Home’s Plumbing
When you pour a pan of grease down the sink drain some of it will quickly cool down, congeal and stick to the inside of your plumbing. It will begin to collect food scraps that are rinsed down the sink drain as well. This buildup reduces the diameter of your pipe and eventually will clog it so that wastewater, from the kitchen and bathrooms, backs up into your home. What doesn’t stick to the inside of your plumbing makes its way into the sewer network where it joins up with wastewater from your neighborhood.
This wastewater can contain a wide assortment of chemicals and items, causing all of it to begin bonding together into a waxy compound in which fats, oils and grease is the main bonding agent. These waxy, almost soapy, balls are called fatbergs.
Major Impact on the Growing Fatberg Problem Facing Towns and Cities
Fatbergs in the sewer network grow very rapidly and eventually end up blocking entire portions of the sewer network. They grow so fast because that one pan of oil or grease you rinsed down your sink, met up with other oil and grease your neighbors rinsed down their sinks. You can see how the issue grows exponentially. Once all of this fats, oils and grease meet up with food particles, wet wipes and other items flushed, it becomes hard as concrete and a major problem for water companies.
To date, the largest fatberg uncovered was in London in 2017 and it weighed in at 130 tons and 250 meters long.
Sewer Overflows Contaminate the Environment
Once a fatberg has blocked a section of a sewer line, wastewater then gets pushed upward and flows out of drains and manholes into local neighborhoods, homes and the environment.
When sewers overflow into the environment and waterways, the damage caused is not quickly repaired. Contaminants in the environment can look and smell pretty bad, but their impact goes beyond just aesthetics. Some pollutants resist breakdown and accumulate in the food chain. These pollutants can be consumed or absorbed by fish and wildlife, which in turn may be eaten by us. (NOAA)
From the EPA: A key concern with sewer overflows which enter rivers, lakes, streams, or brackish waters is their effect on water quality. When bodies of water cannot be used for drinking water, fishing, or recreation, society experiences an economic loss. Tourism and waterfront home values may fall. Fishing and shellfish harvesting may be restricted or halted. Sewer overflows can also close beaches.
Responsibly disposing of cooking fats, oils and grease is one small way we can all decrease pollution and have a positive impact on our local environment.
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