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Fatbergs and drains

The drainage system is the heartbeat of your home. Without it a working drainage system parts of your home will begin to fail, water will drain slower, toilets won’t flush and bad odours will be prominent in and around your property. If our heart has trouble working properly, parts of our body will not work effectively.


What is a fatberg?

Think of clogged arteries. In an unhealthy individual with heart problems, we automatically infer clogged arteries. What clogs an artery? Fat, Oil and Grease (FOG). Now think of the drains around your home, what can clog a drain? Fat, Oil and Grease. A Fatberg is the FOG clogging your home and community’s ‘arteries’.


What objects cause a Fatberg?

Apart from the aforementioned FOG there are many flushed household items that contribute to a fatberg. These include, but are not limited to:

- Wet wipes and nappies

- Cotton buds and cotton wool

- Sanitary hygiene products


All of the substances mixed together result in a fat and debris coagulated mass that can be as strong as concrete. This mixture can also react with the linings of pipes and convert oil to a soap-like substance. Safe to say, a fatberg is one sewer mass to get rid of quickly.


How big can a fatberg get?

This is dependent on how many homes aren’t disposing of their waste correctly and how long it has been left to build up.


The largest fatberg was discovered in a London sewer. It was measured to be 250 metres long and weighing in at 130 tonnes. It took eight workers three weeks to remove it from the drain, pulling out 20-30 tonnes per day.


How can I avoid fatbergs?

Quite simply, familiarise yourself with the correct way to dispose of household objects. We have compiled a list of four things you should never put down a drain:


1. FOG:

The easiest way to prevent oil going down the drain is to install a trap. Alternatively, reuse FOG for your roast dinners! If you do not intend to reuse any FOG, dispose of it by scraping into a small sandwich bag and putting in the bin.


2. Paper towels and wet wipes:

Flushing these is the easiest way to get your drains blocked. These items are most susceptible to attach to FOG and have no place in the sewer. All wet wipes and paper towels should be disposed of in the bin, regardless of whether the packaging says flushable.

3. Starchy foods:

It is easy enough for this happen accidentally – draining the water from your pasta, spaghetti and potatoes and some accidentally fall out of the pan. These food items can act as a link connecting items together in a fatberg. We recommend, again, installing a trap to ensure nothing falls through the plug hole.

4. Egg shells and coffee grounds

Perhaps something you didn’t think about! These materials do not break down and will link up with any growing fatberg. Always put coffee grounds and egg shells in your waste or compost bins.

Fatbergs are becoming a growing concern for communities. As we’re spending more time at home, the size of these congealed growths of fat and matter is increasing. To prevent exuberant costs from repairing a damaged sewer, removing fatbergs and the labour involved around your home, it is essential to you know what they are and how to prevent them.

If you would like us to complete an evaluation of your drains to ensure no fatbergs are beginning to build, you can contact us here.

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