Without drains, your home’s wastewater would have nowhere to go. The convenient characteristic of drains is that when you put something down the drain, you never have to see it again. Unfortunately, this characteristic causes some people to start to see their home’s drains as bottomless trash cans that can take on any type of liquid waste. One common waste item that people put down the drain is grease. To understand why this is such a bad idea, check out this guide on keeping your home’s drains flowing freely.

Liquid to Solid

When you’re cooking, grease is in a liquid form. If grease remained as a liquid, there wouldn’t be much risk in pouring it down the drain. The problem is that grease solidifies as soon as it cools. This will happen whether the grease is in a frying pan or a drain. Since grease is lighter than water, the water in a drain can’t separate the grease to prevent it from sticking together. Instead, the grease solidifies into one large mass that can cause major problems with your home’s plumbing system.

This same principle applies to other types of fats used in cooking, even those that are in liquid form at room temperature. Vegetable oil, for example, can mix with other debris in your drain and cause blockages over time. That’s why it’s important to avoid pouring any type of liquid fat down your home’s drains.

Long-Term Buildup

Although it’s possible to clog a drain all at once with a large amount of grease, most grease-related plumbing problems occur over time. That’s because grease, in addition to sticking to itself when it solidifies, also has an unfortunate ability to stick to other surfaces when it cools down. This makes your drain pipe’s walls prime targets for grease coagulation since they are hard, stable, and cool to the touch.

As grease begins to coat the surface of the pipe walls, the layer of fat will be able to more easily attract more grease to the fat party. Once there’s enough buildup, solid debris can begin to become caught in the fat layer, resulting in rapidly deteriorating drain performance. Therefore, don’t think you’re getting away with pouring grease down your drain simply because it doesn’t seem to cause problems initially. You’ll likely still eventually need the assistance of Dan’s Drain and Digs if you keep at this bad habit.

Big Problems

Getting rid of grease by pouring it down the drain doesn’t just affect your personal plumbing system. After grease passes through your home’s main drain, it enters the communal sewer system. Although these pipes are much larger, grease still behaves the exact same way. Over time, grease from your and your neighbors’ homes will accumulate in the drain and form what is affectionately known as a “fatberg.” These are large, semi-solid masses of grease that can weigh several tons and be dozens or even hundreds of feet long.

If a fatberg sets up shop in your community’s sewer system, there’s a chance the system could lose its ability to send wastewater to the local treatment plant. Then, instead of taking waste away from your home, it could start sending the waste back into your home when heavy rains occur. Thus, for the health and safety of you and your neighbors, it’s vital to keep grease out of your home’s drains at all costs.

drain cleaning tips

Proper Disposal

Ultimately, the only good place for grease created during cooking is in the trash can. Capturing the grease to be able to dispose of it properly can be a daunting task if you don’t know what you’re doing. Generally, the best way to get rid of small amounts of grease is to let it sit in the pan you cooked with until the grease congeals into a gelatin-like consistency. At this point, you can use a paper towel to remove the grease from the pan without worrying about burning yourself or spilling the grease on the floor. If you’re doing a lot of cooking and don’t have time to allow the grease to cool, you can pour the grease into a disposable heat-resistant container and throw the container away when it’s full.

Consider Re-Use

Typically, once you remove grease from the pan, it’s best to simply throw it away. While grease does have a few uses, such as soap making and composting, when it comes to reusing grease in the kitchen, there’s not a lot you can do. Cooking oils, though, can be reused, thus preventing waste and ensuring that these fatty substances don’t end up in your drain. After using cooking oil, you can filter it to remove impurities introduced during the cooking process. Then, you can store the oil in an airtight container until you need to use it again. If you don’t want to store used cooking oil, you can also check to see if there is a local recycling facility that will accept your oil.

Drain Cleaning Tips

At some point, you’re bound to put some type of liquid fat down your sink drain accidentally. When that occurs, there is still hope of maintaining normal drain operation. Your best ally for grease removal is boiling water. Boiling water turns the congealed grease back into a liquid so it can flow down the drain. It’s also good to chase the boiling water with hot tap water to add some force to help remove any grease buildup on the walls of the drain pipes. Finally, you can use a mixture of baking soda and distilled white vinegar to add some drain-cleaning muscle to the mix. If this combination doesn’t work, you may need to contact a plumber for more extensive drain cleaning.

Think Through Your Actions

Keeping grease out of your home’s drains seems difficult at first. The truth is, though, that getting rid of grease without pouring it down the drain is easy as long as you think through what you’ll do with the grease after you’re done with it. If you have an action plan in place, you’ll be able to easily dispose of grease while maintaining the integrity of your home’s drains.