Fat-Free Sewers

Fats, Oils, and Greases aren't just bad for your arteries and your waistline; they're bad for sewers, too.

Sewer overflows and backups can cause health hazards, damage home interiors, and threaten the environment. An increasingly common cause of overflows is sewer pipes blocked by grease. Grease gets into the sewer from household drains as well as from poorly maintained grease traps in restaurants and other businesses.

Where Grease Comes From
Most of us know grease as the byproduct of cooking. Grease is found in things such as:
  • Baking goods
  • Butter and margarine
  • Cooking oil
  • Dairy products
  • Food scraps
  • Lard
  • Meat fats
  • Sauces
  • Shortening
Too often, grease is washed into the plumbing system, usually through the kitchen sink. Grease sticks to the insides of sewer pipes (both on your property and in the streets). Over time, the grease can build up and block the entire pipe.

Home garbage disposals do not keep grease out of the plumbing system. These units only shred solid material into smaller pieces and do not prevent grease from going down the drain.

Commercial additives, including detergents, that claim to dissolve grease may pass grease down the line and cause problems in other areas.

The results can be:
  • An expensive and unpleasant cleanup that often must be paid for by you, the homeowner;
  • An increase in operation and maintenance costs for local sewer departments, which causes higher sewer bills for customers;
  • Potential contact with disease-causing organisms;
  • Raw sewage overflowing in your home or your neighbor's home; and
  • Raw sewage overflowing into parks, yards, and streets.
What You Can Do to Help
The easiest way to solve the grease problem and help prevent overflows of raw sewage is to keep this material out of the sewer system in the first place.

There are several ways to do this:
  • Do not put grease down garbage disposals. Pour excess grease into a container to harden, and then put into the trash for disposal.
  • Never pour grease down sink drains or into toilets.
  • Scrape grease and food scraps from plates, pots, utensils, and grill and cooking surfaces into a can or the trash for disposal.
Service Request
To report problems or maintenance issues, please call 858-668-4700 or submit the request online.