Fats, Oils & Grease
Fats, oils and greases aren’t just bad for your arteries and your waistline; they are bad for sewers, too. Sewer overflows and backups can cause health hazards, damage home interiors, and threaten the environment. An increasingly common cause of overflows is sewer pipes blocked by grease. Grease gets into the sewer from household drains as well as from poorly maintained grease traps in restaurants and other businesses.
Where does the grease come from?
Most of us know grease is the byproduct of cooking. Grease is found in such things as: meat fats, lard, cooking oil, shortening, butter and margarine, food scraps, baking goods, sauces and dairy products. Too often, grease is washed into the plumbing system, usually through the kitchen sink. Grease sticks to the insides of sewer pipes (both on your property and in the streets). Over time, the grease can build up and block the entire pipe. Home garbage disposals do not keep grease out of the plumbing system. These units only shred solid material into smaller pieces and do not prevent grease from going down the drain. Commercial additives, including detergents, that claim to dissolve grease, may pass grease down the line and cause problems in other areas.
The results can be:
- Sewage overflowing in your home
- An expensive and unpleasant cleanup that often must be paid for by you, the homeowner
- Sewage overflowing into the environment
- Potential contact with disease-causing organisms
- An increase in operation and maintenance costs for local sewer departments, which causes higher sewer bills for customers
What can we do to help?
The easiest way to solve the grease problem and help prevent overflows of sewage is to keep this material out of the sewer system in the first place.
There are several ways to do this
Never pour grease down sink drains or into toilets. Scrape grease and food scraps from trays, plates, pots, pans, utensils, and grills and cooking surfaces into a can or the trash for disposal (or recycling where available). Do not put grease down garbage disposals. Put baskets/strainers in sink drains to catch food scraps and other solids, and empty the drain baskets/strainers into the trash for disposal. Be cautious of chemicals and additives (including soaps and detergents) that claim to dissolve grease. Some of these additives simply pass grease down pipes where it can clog the sewer lines in another area.
For additional information or questions, please call the Wastewater Division at 803-268-4504.
Call Before You Dig!
To avoid dangerous situations and costly repairs, it is vital that utility companies be notified before digging, as required by state law, even if you are digging with a shovel in your own yard. This is a simple process. Just call the Palmetto Utility Protection Service at least three (3) days in advance at the number listed below and all participating utilities will be notified. The P.U.P.S. representative can provide you with the information you need to ensure that the work you plan to do will be done safely.