The holiday season is a time full of joy, family and friends. Whether it’s gifts for your family, friends or your community, the “season for giving” shouldn’t include handing over lots of money to your local plumber for an emergency is that easily preventable.
The holidays call for delicious meals, but what about the food scraps left behind? Where does it go? Whether you throw it in the trash or compost some of the scraps, the one place it doesn’t belong is in your sewage system.
Fats, oils and greases, also known as FOG, are substances that can build up and cause costly plumbing issues. Mr. Rooter Plumbing said that FOG is a natural by-product of food prep and cooking. FOG is found in several products that include butter, dairy products, baked goods, food scraps, sauces and more.
“Washing dishes that once held these products and running FOG-ridden items through your garbage disposal can all contribute to FOG buildup,” said the plumbing company.
FOG is insoluble in water, which makes its effects on your pipes and overall sewer system even worse. Mr. Rooter said that FOG can solidify on pipes and create a blockage and ultimately lead to sewage backup into your home, onto streets and into our waterways.
Business Insider said that the Friday after Thanksgiving, traditionally known to others as Black Friday, is the busiest day of the year for plumbers, known to them as “Brown Friday.” Roto-Rooter said that calls for plumbing services increase up to 50% the day after Thanksgiving.
“This time of year, homes have extra occupants in the form of holiday guests who are taking extra showers and flushing more toilets. That alone puts additional stress on many residential drain systems,” said Paul Abrams, spokesperson for Roto-Rooter. “And as soon as the kitchen gets busy and the sink and disposal start receiving peelings, poultry skin and oily turkey drippings, things start clogging up fast.”
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) said that as FOG builds up in the pipe, restricting the flow of water out of your home, untreated wastewater could backup into tubs and toilets flowing onto floors and resulting in high-cost cleanups and restoration. TCEQ warned that FOG could also cause manholes to overflow into parks and streets, and possibly contaminate drinking water.
Cities will also spend thousands to millions of dollars on repairing sewer pipes and cleanups. TCEQ said that excessive FOG in the sewer system could affect local wastewater rates as communities will spend money each year on unplugging or replacing grease-blocked pipes, repairing pumping stations, and cleaning up wastewater spills.
Though plumbing companies across the country will be staffed and ready on Brown Friday, long wait times and high holiday service charges can be expected.
For those who have septic tanks on their property, a buildup of FOG could prove costly. FOG discharged into septic systems could cause the drain field to malfunction, which would lead to more costly pump-outs.
To avoid an expensive sewage disaster, here are tips provided by the TCEQ on how to reduce FOG in your home:
- Recycle used cooking oil or dispose of it by pouring it into a sealable container that can go into the trash.
- Scrape food scraps into the trash, not into the sink.
- Wipe pots, pans and dishes before rinsing or washing them.
- Don’t rinse off oil and grease with hot water.
- Wipe dishes and cookware with a paper towel to remove grease.
Learn more about how to keep FOG from ruining your holiday season by clicking here.