Sewer backups are costly (and gross!) headaches for homeowners. You can prevent this issue by avoiding clogs caused by FOG (Fat, Oil & Grease). The popular use of the garbage disposal in kitchen sinks means we have become accustomed to running our food leftovers, meal preparation and kitchen clean up items down the drain. Kitchen sinks aren’t the only location that falls victim to FOG. Fat, oil and grease also get flushed down the toilet or poured into drains in our garages or workshops. FOG can become a huge and expensive problem.
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What is FOG?
FOG is the acronym for Fats, Oils and Grease. These items can include:
- Lard, butter
- Frying oils
- Nearly any prepared food
- Cheese, eggs
- Lubricating oil
- Road Oils
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Why is FOG problem?
The majority of the fat, oil and grease deposits in the city sewer lines are from restaurants, shops and automotive businesses. A large number of private households impact and burden the sewer system as well.
The fats and oils are hydrophobic and they do not dissolve. The FOG items accumulate in drainage pipes, solidify, and cannot be flushed further down the lines by water. A deposit can quite quickly develop into a complete blockage. In short, these clogs cause sewer back ups that are expensive to repair, can cause health problems, and are an environmental hazard. Keep in mind that a sewer backup means that untreated sewage potentially enters your home.
The city is responsible for the clean up and repair if a blockage occurs in the street. Regardless of where in the line the blockage is located, homeowners are responsible for repairs needed in their home after a sewer backup caused by a FOG clog. If the blockage is in the home or on your property, you are responsible for repair and the damage it caused.
Pro Tip: Did you know that a sewer back up is generally not included in your regular homeowners insurance? YIKES. We recommend asking your insurance company about a separate sewer back up rider to add onto your homeowners insurance policy. These riders are not very expensive and worth every penny.
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Does this also apply to septic systems?
Yes. Septic systems are very delicate and designed to break down toilet tissue, waste and nothing else. The bacteria in a septic system is unable to breakdown FOG items. They will instead float to the surface to create a scum layer. If this scum layer gets too thick, it will cause problems with the septic system and the leach field.
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What can you do to prevent FOG clogs?
- Do not pour FOG items down the kitchen sink, toilets or garage drains. Keep them out of the sewer system.
- Wipe fat, oil and grease from pots, pans and tableware using a disposable paper towel before washing the items.
- Pour leftover liquid grease into an empty can. Throw the can in the garbage when the grease hardens.
- Consider composting instead of putting food scraps in the garbage disposal.
- If FOG accidentally gets into your pipes, flush or rinse it down with cold water. This will harden fats into particles that can be carried out by the water and not stick to the walls of your pipes.
- Spread the word about FOGs. Consider speaking in neighborhood groups and other homeowner gatherings about this issue. Provide suggestions mentioned in this blogpost to prevent these clogs.