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Environmental Advisory Council

Posted on: November 15, 2021

Hazards of "FOG"

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DID YOU KNOW that FOG is a terrible problem for your home pipes and for sewer systems? FOG stands for “Fats, Oils, and Grease.” Fats that go down drains firm up when they get into the colder pipes in your basement and then underground.

DID YOU KNOW that FOG is a terrible problem for your home pipes and for sewer systems?  FOG stands for “Fats, Oils, and Grease.” Fats that go down drains firm up when they get into the colder pipes in your basement and then underground.  

When fats become semi-solid, things like "flushable" wipes and food scraps get caught in the fatty sludge.  Eventually the goo hardens, coating the inside of the pipe and making it narrower.  The next time someone dumps or rinses fats down the drain, a new coating forms on top of the earlier one.  Again, things get caught in the goo, just like fruit gets suspended in jello as it's solidifying.  Once the new layer is fully solid, the space inside the pipe is even narrower.

If this happens often, the pipe gets so narrow inside that something like a straw or hair ball can get wedged into a pipe sideways and "catch" even more "flushable" toilet paper, food scraps, etc.  Eventually, there’s so much solidified fat and junk that your pipes or the sewer system stops working right, leading to back ups. It can cost you a lot of money to clear a pipe like that, and it can cost a town many, many thousands of dollars to clean the sewer system.  

So after you’ve had your Thanksgiving turkey, ham, or roast beef, drain or wipe the fats off your pans, save them for further cooking if you wish, or throw them in your trash (please don’t feed any semi-soft fats to wildlife, as the goo can get onto birds’ feathers and cause them problems.  Only very solid fats are OK for birds).  The same goes for butter and margarine and cooking oils.  If it’s oily or fatty, it’s the enemy of pipes!

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