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  • Writer's pictureHandsome Hank

What the heck is F.O.G ?

More and more in the plumbing industry we are seeing the anagram FOG. Most people do not understand this term, simply put FOG stands for FAT, OIL, and GREASE. These are common cooking bi-products like warm bacon grease and oil from frying. Too often when people are done cooking, they pour it down the kitchen sink.

Now that you know what it is, let's talk about how to deal with it and the impacts it has on your home, the city, and the environment.

Picture of a pipe clogged with FOG

Should I put it down the drain?

NO! Absolutely not. Just don't do it. Ever. It's one of the easiest things to prevent and can be very expensive to fix.

What happens after I put FOG down the drain?

Steve clearing a drain with the drain machine.

Once you flush FOG down your kitchen sink or other drains, it begins to stick to the sides of

your plumbing system, creating a long sticky blockage, almost like soft butter. Inevitably, other food like rice, egg shells, coffee grounds etc. make their way to the blockage and and get lodged into it. It begins to rot compounding the problem and creating a long solid smelly mass that often cannot be cleared. Sometimes the blockages become so bad you have to remove the existing drains and re-pipe. At the very least customers often have to have to drains snaked or power-washed. This is messy, time consuming, destructive, and expensive.

How should I dispose of FOG?

The best way to dispose of FOG is to scrape all foods into your green bin before rinsing them or putting them into your dishwasher. Wait for grease and fats to cool and solidify before giving them a wipe with a paper towel or something similar and tossing the whole thing into your green bin. Pro tip: keep a few empty tins from soup or pasta sauce under the sink for when you have a large amount of grease from cooking foods like bacon and burgers. While the grease is still warm pour it into the can and put it in the freezer to throw away once the can is full. Anything you can keep out of the drains will help keep your drains running freely and you'll thank yourself in the future.

What impact does FOG have on municipal sewers?

Just like your plumbing system at home, FOG creates blockages in the city sewers also. Ugh, just imagine the amount of grease required to plug up an entire city sewer. Not only is it happening, but it is causing wide spread flooding and damage to people’s basements. With a massive increase in population, combined with aging sewers and infrastructure, it is no coincidence that insurance companies will no longer insure against floods. Sewage during peak times is struggling to get to the treatment plants and during heavy rainfall can back up into your basement. People wonder what their municipal taxes pay for, well clearing FOG from sewers is one of the expenses occurred. The only defense against a sewer back up is installing a backwater valve in your sewer before it exits the building. Stay tuned for our next blog about the importance of having a backwater valve.

You absolutely have to watch this video about Fatbergs! Educational AND disgusting!

What impact does FOG have on septic systems?

Photo Credit: Bob Vila Website.

Just like sewers and plumbing systems, FOG will plug up your septic tank, pumps, and even

worse your septic bed or leach field. Should your bed become plugged there is no way of cleaning it. I will have to be dug up and replaced. This cost will be massive, so if you are on a septic system be extra careful about what goes into your drains.

What impact does FOG have on waste water treatment plants?

FOG will have the same impact as everywhere else with the exception that the plant must

work much harder to process the solids, thereby using more power and adding to climate

change. Also the treated water ends up back in our eco system and often during peak times is not as clean as we might like. We then draw this water and consume it. So think about it,

would you drink or bathe in what you are putting down the drain? So why are we doing it? Here is the link to a video about the wastewater treatment plant in Toronto if you are interested about how it works. Admittedly it's a little dry (pun intended) but it's informative.

How do I fix this problem?

We have a great blog on How to clear a drain at home that talks about different options to clear a drain. These options change based on the severity of the clog.

These include but are not limited to:

-Enzymes that you pour down the drain that eat away organic matter like FOG and hair.

-Having your drains and pipes snaked or pressure- washed with specialty machines.

-Removing and re-piping affected areas.

The Bottom Line

The saying 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' is bang on when talking about FOG. Taking care of your drains is something that can easily be done and can have lasting results. Using enzyme treatments regularly in all your drains can have a massive impact on the maintenance and prevention of future clogs and also the longevity of your plumbing system in general. Not to mention the impact it has on the environment. We all need to do our part to ensure that we are helping Mother Nature by keeping junk and gunk out of our ecosystem.

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