“Health Check” – Fat-Free Sewers
How to Prevent Fats, Oils, and Greases from Damaging Your Home and the Environment
Fats, Oils and greases aren’t just bad for your “arteries” and your “waistline”; they are bad for your sewers too.
Sewer overflows and backups can cause health hazards, damage home interiors, and threaten the environment. An increasingly common cause of overflows is sanitary sewer lines blocked by grease. Grease gets into the sanitary sewer lines from household drains as well as from poorly maintained grease traps in restaurants and other businesses.
Where does the grease come from?Most of us know grease as the byproduct of cooking. Grease is found in such things as:
- Meat Fats
- Cooking Oil
- Butter and Margarine
- Food Scraps
- Baking Goods
- Dairy Products
Too often grease is washed into the plumbing system, usually through the kitchen sink. Grease sticks to the insides of the sanitary sewer pipes (both within your home, property and in the streets). Over time the grease can build up and block the entire pipe.
Home garbage disposals do not keep grease out of the plumbing system. These units only shred solid material into smaller pieces and do not prevent grease from going down the drain. Commercial additives, including detergents that claim to dissolve grease, may pass grease down the line and cause problems in other areas.
The results can be:
- Raw sewerage overflowing in your home or your neighbor’s home;
- An expensive and unpleasant cleanup that often must be paid for by you, the homeowner;
- Raw sewerage overflowing into parks, yards and streets where it eventually ends up in streams or bodies of clean water;
- Potential contact with disease-causing organisms; and
- An increase in operation and maintenance costs for the Authority, which can result in higher sewer bills for customers.
What can we do to HELP?
The easiest way to solve the fats, oil and grease problem and help prevent overflows of raw sewage is to keep this material out of the sanitary sewer system in the first place.
There are several ways to do this:
- NEVER pour grease down sink drains or into toilets.
- Scrape grease and food scraps from trays, plates, pots, pans, utensils, and grills and cooking surfaces into a can or the trash for disposal.
- DO NOT put grease down garbage disposals. Put baskets/strainers in sink drains to catch food scraps and other solids, and empty the drain baskets/strainers into the trash for disposal.
- Speak with your friends and neighbors about the problem of fats, grease and oil in the sanitary sewer system and how to keep it out.
SHOULD YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, CALL THE AUTHORITY
What do Restaurants and Building Owners need to know about Grease Traps or Interceptors?
Restaurants, large buildings (such as apartment complexes), and other commercial establishments may have grease traps or interceptors that keep grease out of the sanitary sewer system.
For a grease trap or interceptor to work correctly, it must be properly:
- Designed (Sized and manufactured to handle the amount that is expected);
- Installed in accordance with the local construction/plumbing code;
- Maintained (cleaned and serviced on a frequent basis)
Solids should never be put into grease traps or interceptors. Routine, often daily, maintenance of grease traps and interceptors is needed to ensure that they properly reduce or prevent blockages.
Be cautious of chemicals and additives (including soaps and detergents) that claim to dissolve grease. Some of these additives simply pass grease down the sanitary sewer lines where it can clog the sanitary sewer lines in other areas.