Fun and joyfulness are treasured hallmarks of the holiday season as friends and family gather to eat, drink and be merry. Unfortunately, these festivities can also attract a certain uninvited guest that could long outstay its welcome: FOG.
We’re not talking about a weather phenomenon; we’re talking about fats, oils and grease, the aftermath of many holiday celebrations. When poured down the drain, FOG coats the inside of pipes. As it cools, it congeals, leaving a layer of icky gunk behind.
Over time, FOG can accumulate, restricting the flow of water through not only your home’s plumbing but the municipal collection system as well. If left undetected, a buildup of FOG can grow to unfathomable proportions — large enough to have earned the unpleasant moniker “fatberg.”
There have been many infamous fatberg incidents over the years. Perhaps one of the most memorable is the Whitechapel fatberg discovered in London in September 2017. This monster mass of fat and grease combined with so-called “flushable” wipes, sanitary products, and other debris grew stealthily beneath the city streets. When it was finally detected during routine maintenance, the enormous blob measured 250 yards long and weighed a whopping 143 tons.
Thames Water crews worked around the clock for three weeks to dismantle the colossal fatberg, which had solidified to nearly the consistency of concrete. On a positive note, much of the dislodged, oily mass was transported to a facility where it was given new life as biodiesel to power city buses. And, to help educate the public about the importance of properly disposing of FOG and non-flushable materials, a large chunk of the Whitechapel fatberg was actually put on display at the Museum of London. The exhibit lasted from February to June 2018 and was reportedly one of the museum’s most popular attractions.
The Whitechapel fatberg, and similar giant clogs around the world, are extreme examples of how oil and grease can impact the sewer network but residential drainage systems are susceptible to blockage as well. Dumping FOG down your drain, garbage disposal, or toilet can contribute to mini-fatbergs that ultimately lead to clogged pipes, backups, and very expensive repairs. Instead, always dispose of fats, oils and grease in the trash, keeping your pipes clear and your holiday FOG-free.