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What Is a Fatberg?

Photographs of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the miles of plastic floating on the ocean surface, made it obvious to the world what the dangers are of consumer waste. A similar problem that many are unaware of actually hits closer to home. It’s a nightmare that hides away in sewer systems and is known to municipal workers by an accurately disgusting name — a fatberg.

What is a Fatberg?

A fatberg is a mass of congealed grease, oils, and fat that’s been washed down kitchen sinks in restaurants and homes. The grease collects with other flushed away debris like sanitary products and baby wipes. Basically, anything a plumber warns homeowners not to toss into their sewers (but they still do) has amassed and become this massive blob.

London municipal waste workers originally coined the term fatberg when they were confronted with the masses in their sewer systems. The problem has only grown in frequency and severity over the last 15 years since the first large-scale clog of this type was discovered.

Are Fatbergs Harmful?

The grisly collection of single-use waste products and nasty food remnants is a problem, aside from the hideous appearance and awful smell. The giant clumps have been the cause of clogs in sewer systems around the United States and in many other countries. The balls of grease and other materials prevent proper drainage and force sewage to overflow into streams, streets, and homes.

How to Avoid Them

Home and business owners can stop this type of incident from taking place by listening to their plumbers. That means:

  • Do not flush anything other than toilet paper and bodily waste.
  • Never pour oil or grease down a drain, even if the grease successfully rinses down with hot or boiling water. After some time, it will congeal again once it reaches the sewer.
  • Always allow grease to cool and then scrape into a garbage bag or into a container to be thrown out.

Got a plumbing problem? Give Mr. Rooter Southeast WI a call today!

John DonovanAbout the Author: John Donovan, Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Southeast WI

John has been a trusted plumber and owner of Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Southeast WI since 2003. With over 19 years to back him, John has experience with a wide range of plumbing related solutions and systems. He and his team specialize in pipeline restoration, utilizing minimally invasive state of the art technologies. He and his team have also demonstrated expertise in drainline diagnostics and resolving drainage issues.