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What Are Fatbergs and How To Prevent Them

26th Sep 2019

Category: Blocked Drains

Everyone is familiar with what icebergs are, but have you heard of fatbergs and do you know what they are?

Sadly, while many of you won't even know much about them, fatbergs are rapidly causing more problems for not only our drainage systems but also marine life too.

This guide will not only inform you about what they are but also how to prevent them forming in your drains too.

First things first; what is a fatberg?

Essentially, a fatberg is a coagulated mass of non-biodegradable matter and congealed grease found in drains and sewers. They are often formed from household items like cotton buds, condoms and wet wipes that have been flushed down the toilet. The resulting debris and fat mass can often be incredibly strong, not too dissimilar to concrete, and may even require specialist equipment to effectively remove them from drains and sewers.

Rough drain surfaces with turbulent fluid flow are the ideal sites for fatbergs to form. Aside from the blockage that these coagulated masses can cause, they can also react with the linings of pipework and convert oil to a soap-like substance. 

How large can they get?

The size of a fatberg depends on how long it has been allowed to accumulate used items, grease and fat; however, they can weigh as much as 12 double-decker buses stacked on top of each other. In fact, one of the biggest fatbergs in history was discovered in a London sewer and was ten times the size of a huge fatberg discovered in Kingston in 2013, which weighed 130 tonnes and was 250 metres long!

How can you avoid fatbergs in your drains?

The consequences of having a fatberg in your drain can be pretty severe, so it's important to make sure you're doing everything you can to prevent this from happening. There are a few things that you can do to help;

Avoid putting cooking oil down your drain

Grease and oil are the two most common components of fatbergs that can cause blocked sewers and drains. For this reason, it's absolutely imperative that you never pour cooking oil down your drain! Therefore, if you never intend on reusing your grease or oil, you can dispose of it in the following way;

  • Let the grease or oil cool. When hot, oil can melt pretty much anything, so be careful with it
  • Scrape the grease into a plastic container; you can use a spatula to make the job easier
  • Following this, place the container in a bag before throwing it in the rubbish
  • Finally, wipe all cutlery and utensils with a paper towel

Keep wet wipes and paper towels out of the drains

One of the easiest ways to block your drain is by putting paper towels or wet wipes in it! The distinct possibility of these attaching to grease and oil means they have absolutely no place in a drain! 

While most wet wipe packaging claims that they are fully biodegradable and flushable, this isn't always the case. So it's highly recommended that you dispose of your wipes in the waste paper bin instead. 

Place starchy food scraps in your bin rather than your drain

It's important to make sure that starchy foods, like spaghetti, rice and potatoes, are kept away from your drains too. Often, fatbergs contain non-biodegradable materials and starchy foods such as the ones mentioned can act as the connecting link to hold them together.

With fatbergs becoming an ever-increasing nuisance, especially in major towns and cities like London, it's imperative that people are aware of what they can do to try and prevent them. Hopefully this guide with have armed you with the information you need to prevent them from forming in your neighbourhood drains.

Of couse, if you need any more information on fatbergs or anything related to drain maintenance and cleaning, speak to Kent and London's experts here at JLH Drains. Contact us today to discuss your requirements with one of our helpful and friendly team. 

Category: Blocked Drains