Fatbergs: Everything You Need to Know

Fatbergs are as disgusting as they sound. A fatberg is formed when oil, grease and non-water soluble waste such as tampons, condoms and wet wipes meet in a sewer. The oil and grease bind the other debris together into a small clump which attaches itself to the side of a sewer pipe. As more debris and oil flows through the sewer, it attaches itself to the outer layer of the fatberg, increasing its size. Over time, fatbergs can grow to enormous sizes. In London, England, a fatberg which weighed 15 tonnes and was the size of a bus was found in the city's sewer system. Below is a guide to everything you need to know about fatbergs and how they can affect your home sewer system:

Preventing fatbergs

As the adage goes, 'Prevention is better than cure'. You can help to prevent fatbergs forming in your home sewer system by not draining cooking oil or allowing grease from plates to be washed down the sink. You should pour cooking oil into a metal container or glass jar and allow it to solidify before throwing it away with the rest of your trash. You should also wipe down any plates with a piece of kitchen towel before you wash them to remove any grease. You should also never flush items such as wet wipes or sanitary products down the toilet.

Identifying fatbergs

The first sign that your sewer is blocked will normally be an unpleasant smell. This smell is caused by the build-up of gas in the sewer which cannot escape due to the blockage. Once the sewer becomes completely blocked, you will find that sewer water begins to back up into your home via the toilet. This, of course, presents a serious health hazard.

Removing fatbergs

Because fatbergs set into a solid mass, it is impossible to remove them using conventional drain clearing techniques. If you suspect a fatberg is blocking your sewer, you should call in a plumbing service. The plumber will use a CCTV camera to identify the location and size of the fatberg. If the sewer pipe is large enough to enter, they will crawl into the sewer and use tools to break down the fatberg into smaller pieces which can be removed. If the sewer pipe is too small to allow human entry, the plumber will dig a trench and remove the section of affected pipe so it can be cleared. If you suspect a fatberg has formed in your sewer, you should contact a plumbing company like P1 Plumbing & Electrical