Can you pour ground beef grease down the drain?

Why is Grease Bad for the Kitchen Sink Drain and Plumbing?

As mentioned above, grease poured down the kitchen sink drain can cause a number of serious – and expensive – plumbing problems.

The grease you pour down the kitchen sink may be fluid as spills out of the pan, but it does not stay that way for long. Within a few minutes, the grease cools down and solidifies in your pipes. This solid mass acts as a trap for other debris flowing down the pipes and can cause a massive blockage. Eventually, you may notice the kitchen sink draining slowly or not at all due to completely clogged pipes.

If grease should not be poured down the kitchen drain, then you may be wondering: Can you pour grease down the toilet too? Again, the answer is no. Grease poured down toilets will still solidify and clog up sewer systems. The result can be expensive sewer repairs for your home or even entire neighborhood sewer systems due to fatbergs. Fatbergs are congealed masses in sewer systems commonly formed by accumulating grease with other debris and can reach high sizes and weigh hundreds of pounds. For instance, a fatberg discovered in London in 2017 weighed almost 300,000 lbs and stretched more than 820 feet. Fatbergs are extremely difficult to remove and the entire process can take weeks. 

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Is bacon grease good for compost?

A few things we know: bacon grease is not compostable. A residential compost bin or pile doesn’t get hot enough to sufficiently break down meat, bones, oils and fats. A small amount would be fine, but a whole can of grease wouldn’t really work.

Not Replacing Your Water Heater

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A traditional water heater has a lifespan of 8-12 years, while tankless models may last up to 20 years. Regardless of which type of water heater you own, if you haven’t replaced it by its average expiration date, then you could be putting yourself at risk for a costly leak, not to mention higher energy prices. Look for signs that the appliance is underperforming, such as a drop in water temperature or knocking sounds, and learn about factors that may reduce the amount of time that it remains operative.  Related: How Long Does a Water Heater Actually Last? istockphoto.com

How Long Does It Take for Grease to Clog a Drain?

We’ve all been guilty of having a temporary lapse in judgment and pouring the grease from some freshly cooked burgers down the drain. If this happens once or twice, it’s typically not cause for too much concern. It may help to run some hot water down the drain right after to help reduce the impact.

However, if this becomes a regular occurrence, you can run into big trouble, so don’t make pouring grease down your drain a habit. You should also keep it out of your garbage disposal.

Photo: akulamatiau / Adobe Stock
Photo: akulamatiau / Adobe Stock

Thinking You Can Handle a Big Plumbing Job

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We get it: Professional plumbers can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you should tackle a big plumbing job on your own. An inexperienced DIYer can make huge mistakes like joining two different metal pipes together, over-tightening the connections or forgetting to turn off the water before starting a project. Before you embark on a misguided DIY project, get bids from a number of reputable plumbers, then hire one of them to help you solve your water woes. Related: 10 Ways Your Home Is Telling You to Call a Plumber istockphoto.com

Commercial Kitchen Drain Usage

Proper commercial kitchen drain usage is everyone’s business. Therefore, you want to regularly advise your staff of what can and cannot go down the drains, whether in the sink or the floor.

Can you pour grease down the sink? Even just a little bit?

No, you cannot. Mixing grease with hot water and/or dish soap and processing it through a garbage disposal does not make it okay either.

Fatty wastes will eventually congeal at room temperature. Even the hottest water will not be able to keep the grease warm forever. The greasy residue will coat the inside of your pipes, trapping other food particles. Dish soaps can break down fats temporarily, but it is not going to be enough to counteract the ill effects of grease forever. A garbage disposal will not change how the oil behaves once the fat finds its home in your pipes.

Fats are less dense than water and are hydrophobic—meaning grease and water will not mix. Between floating to the top of any liquid and refusing to dissolve, fats do everything they can to fight being flushed down the drain.

What about liquid cooking oils?

No. While fats that are solid at room temperature pose the most significant risk to the health of your pipes, vegetable oil still causes issues. Liquid oils are also hydrophobic, making it difficult to wash them out. As they coat the inside of your plumbing, food particles stick to the walls and gum up the whole operation.

What are fatbergs?

You might be thinking, “We’ve dumped a bit of oil into our drains for years, and our restaurant plumbing has been working just fine.”

Unfortunately, many people take shortcuts and dump a bit of fat here and there down their drains. Just because you haven’t had problems yet doesn’t mean you won’t in the future.

This “little bit” of dumping every now and then has a tremendous negative impact on the wastewater system—because everyone is doing it. Those small amounts of fat join together in the sewer and create what the sewer industry calls a fatberg. They have a memorable name for this phenomenon, indicating just how big a problem fatbergs are.

As we mentioned previously, all those fats will coagulate and harden. They also cling to other items that do not break down as the grease comes across them—things such as flushable wipes. Like an iceberg, it can result in disaster and is a problem in cities throughout the world.

Other Common Commercial Kitchen Waste that Should Not Go Down the Drain

  • Coffee grounds
  • Eggshells
  • Rice and grains
  • Doughs and batters

Just like laboratories can be fined for putting things they should not down the drain, so too can restaurants. The accumulated fats, oils, and greases (FOG) can completely clog the insides of pipes—both your own and the city’s—until the system simply cannot handle the amount of waste traveling through it, and a sanitary sewer overflow occurs. SSOs cause sewage to back up into your business, into people’s basements, onto the streets, or into storm drains and local waterways—anywhere it can find an outlet.

That’s why your business could face hefty fines if it is determined to be responsible. Sewer authorities can easily find the source of the problem these days, so you are not likely to get away with it for very long.

The Proper Way to Dispose of Kitchen Grease

First, let’s differentiate between yellow and brown greases. Yellow grease is basically used cooking oil (UCO) collected from range hood filters, grills, and fryers; it has not come into contact with water. It can be recycled and is used in many products, such as biodiesel and glycerin for cosmetics and soaps. Typically, kitchens contract with licensed companies to haul their yellow grease away and provide a fresh supply of cooking oil.

Brown grease is the FOG mentioned above—fats, oils, and greases that are the inevitable byproduct of food preparation and dish washing. Even the most diligent kitchen staff cannot prevent every ounce of grease from getting into the drains, so how do you prevent FOG from clogging the sewer system once it’s mixed with water?

Every commercial kitchen should have a hydromechanical grease interceptor, or grease trap, a plumbing device designed to intercept most FOG before it hits the sewer system. Once it reaches a certain level, it must be removed by a licensed disposal company.

Can I Pour Grease Down the Drain With Dish Soap?

Dish soap is designed to break down the grease on your pots, pans and plates, but it’s not powerful enough to dissolve large amounts of oil. While it may help flush fatty deposits out of your own pipes, the grease is just pushed farther into the sewer system or your septic tank.

What Happens if You Pour Grease Down the Drain?

How does grease clog drains? At its most basic, grease-caused blockages are a matter of chemistry — grease solidifies as it cools and can become lodged in your pipes and block drains. Once you dump your cooking oil and grease waste into your sink’s drain, the fats in the grease break down into their most basic components of fatty acids and glycerol.

The fatty acids from the grease gradually bind to the calcium found in sewers and sewer pipes due to concrete corrosion. As the acids and calcium combine, they begin to form a waxy, soap-like compound. As people flush more and more grease down their drainpipes, these solid compounds gradually accumulate on the ceiling of sewer pipes and form stalactites of fat called “fatbergs.”

Combatting the Fatbergs

A fatberg is a combination of the words “fat” and “iceberg,” which describes a large mass of solidified fat that can block sewer pipes. A fatberg forms when people pour grease and oil down the drain. These products then solidify and bond to other non-biodegradable items such as baby wipes. Fatbergs can cause an enormous amount of damage to wastewater treatment systems and take extensive effort to remove.

Over time, a tiny amount of grease and oil can cause substantial problems. Even when you’re only rinsing and cleaning the remnants of grease and oil from used pots and pans, you can wash substances down the drain to contribute to further fatbergs. It’s crucial to remember that these solidified blockages increase in size, leading to the accumulation of congealed fat that clogs the sewer line and causes dangerous backup problems.

Pouring cooking oil down the drain puts your home’s pipes and drainage system at risk, but these solidified fat blockages can also have significant repercussions for your sewer system.

How do you get grease out of pipes?

How do you get grease out of pipes?

What NOT to Compost And Why
  • Meat, fish, egg or poultry scraps (odor problems and pests)
  • Dairy products (odor problems and pests)
  • Fats, grease, lard or oils (odor problems and pests)
  • Coal or charcoal ash (contains substances harmful to plants)
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants (diseases or insects might spread)

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