preparing for plumbing emergencies
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preparing for plumbing emergencies

Do you have a plumbing repair kit in your home to make emergency repairs quickly? Having everything you need in one bucket or box can help you eliminate some of the stress that comes with plumbing emergencies. On this blog, you will find out what you should have in your kit and some basic tips about making these repairs to avoid further damage to your home. It is my hope that you will find more than enough information to keep your home dry, your drains draining, and a peace of mind and lack of stress to tackle these dreaded household occurrences.

preparing for plumbing emergencies

How to Prevent & Solve Problems from Grease in Your Drains

Veronica Torres

Nearly everyone knows that grease spells disaster in the drain, but what you may not know is that the problem isn't always immediate. You may also be surprised to learn of the hidden sources of fats and grease that make their way into your drain without your knowledge or consent. Learn how grease causes problems over time, how to avoid it, and what to do about grease buildup in your drains.

How does grease and fat hurt the drain?

If you are like most people, you probably assume that you will experience an immediate slowing or clogging if you accidentally spill grease or fat down the drain. You may even assume you are out of danger as long as the water flows freely soon after the big spill. The truth is a grease or fat spill in the sink rarely causes and immediate clog because that's not how it typically works.

Grease and fats in the drain cling to the sides of the pipes where they solidify and become a magnet for more grease and debris as it passes by. This creates a slow buildup of yucky grease and food particles that continues to grow until either the trap is filled or the grease becomes so thick that there is little room for water to flow down the pipe. To prevent problems from grease in the drain, you need to understand where the grease comes from and how to avoid it.

What are some hidden sources of grease and fat in the drain?

To understand hidden sources of fat and grease that can wreak havoc with your drains, think of the food labels on the foods you eat. The very same foods and oils that pose a danger to your health pose a danger to your pipes too. The higher the fat content of the food, the greater the risk. Here are some culprits you may not have thought about.

  • Sauces and gravies—If you are in the habit of rinsing dishes laden with gravy and sauces in the sink and letting the water run freely down the drain, you are already adding significant amounts of grease to the drains.
  • Cheese dishes—This includes cheese dips, sauces and traces of good old mac 'n cheese. Rinsing dishes from cheese sauces, casseroles and other cheesy delights will add grease to the drain.
  • Serving dishes from meats and poultry—You wouldn't dream of pouring the grease from you baking or frying pans down the drain, yet probably don't give washing those serving dishes a second thought. The residue of grease and fat in serving dishes adds grease to the drain.
  • Sour cream and mayo—Condiments like sour cream and mayo may not seem like a big source of fats, but if you are in the habit of rinsing the leftovers down the drain regularly, you may be adding more fat and grease to the drain than you realize.

How do you avoid grease in the drain?

With a little thought and effort you can easily cut down on the amount of fat and grease that finds its way into your drains.

  • Throw oils and cooking fats in the trash. Place a can (a washed out vegetable can works great) beside the stove and pour oils and fats from cooking into the can to cool before tossing it into the trash.
  • Avoid putting fatty foods in the garbage disposal. That includes leftover grease, fat cut from meats and any of the foods listed above.
  • Scrape all cooking, serving and eating dishes. Getting into the habit of scraping those tidbits of food and leftover grease from all your dishes before washing them.

How do you clean the grease and fats out of the drain?

There are a number of ways to lessen the impact of grease and fats in the drain.

  • Pour boiling water down the drain: Boiling water will melt the grease and fat built up in the drain and force it further down the drain, but beware. Hot water will not get rid of the grease as it will just stick to the pipes again when it cools down. If your line to the sewer is short, this may force the greasy buildup out of your pipes, but if you have a long line it may contribute to a difficult clog in a hard-to-reach area.
  • Use baking soda and vinegar: Flush the drain with boiling water and then pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes. Follow with a mixture of 1 cup of hot water and 1 cup of vinegar. Cover the drain and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Uncover the drain and flush with hot water to rinse away any remaining sludge.
  • Flush the drain weekly: You can use either ammonia or a solution of equal parts baking soda, water and vinegar to flush the drain once a week to keep grease buildup under control.

If you continue to experience slow or sluggish drains that do not improve with home remedies, contact your local plumber for professional drain cleaning assistance.