Why Can’t I Pour Grease Down My Drain?

If you’re a fan of frying up bacon on a Sunday morning, you’ve no doubt heard that you should never pour cooking grease into your sink or drain. But why can’t you just use the convenience of your garbage disposal to dump the oil after you’re finished cooking? A little bit of oil can’t be that big of a deal…right?

Surprisingly, homeowners pouring grease in their drain causes many more problems than the occasional call to a plumber in Phila. According to a study published in the Journal of Oleo Science, fat and oil buildups in drain pipelines account for an estimated 47% of the 36,000 sewer overflows that happen every year in the United States.

The problem with pouring your grease down the sink comes when it interacts with water. We’ve all heard the phrase “oil and water don’t mix;” when it comes to cooking grease, this is literally true, as the grease breaks down into fatty acid components and glycerol when they interact with water in your drain or the sewer. After being broken down, these two components are prime to bind again, and often do so to calcium particles in your sink or the sewer. The result is a congealed, messy blob of fat and oil called a “fatberg” that sticks to the interior of your pipes and causes clogs. While fatbergs are chemically classified as a soap, you won’t want to grab one for your shower—these blobs of fat and grease can become enormous in size. One of the largest fatbergs in the world was excavated from a British sewer and weighed over 130 tons—it was so massive that it even got its own exhibit space in the Museum of London!

Instead of pouring grease down the drain, allow it to cool and scrape the grease from the pan into the garbage. Made a mistake and already dumped that excess cooking oil? Make a call to your local Philly plumber – Guaranteed Plumbing & Heating, Inc. – before you have to deal with a fatberg in your own drain!