Grease-Choked Drains from Holiday Cooking? Here’s Why—and What to Do About It
If you’re like many of us, the holidays are a time for celebrating with family and friends-including cooking lots of great food. But now the holidays are over, the guests have gone home, and you find yourself left with drains logged from a nasty buildup of grease that got poured down the pipes. What happened, and what can you do to resolve it?
Why Grease Should Never Go Down the Drain
How did this problem occur to begin with? Isn’t liquid grease safe to go down the drains? Not at all. Chemically speaking, grease is one of the worst things you can put down the pipes. First of all, as hot grease cools, it lines the walls of your pipes-and since water won’t rinse it off, it eventually builds up and chokes the water flow. Secondly, the grease that does make it into the sewers is basically fat, and it interacts with other chemicals in the sewers to cause even bigger, nastier buildups-and backups. (Studies show, in fact, that nearly half of all sewer backups are caused by fat, oil and grease.) Suffice it to say when it comes to your pipes, grease is not your friend.
Fixes for a Grease-Clogged Drain
Grease clogs are stubborn to clean, but not impossible if you use the right approach. If you want to try the DIY approach, let’s look at a few things to try.
Clean the trap by hand
If you can identify the clog as “local” to your sink, chances are the grease has accumulated in the trap underneath the sink. If you have the right tools, or if you have PVC joints that can be loosened by hand, carefully remove the trap with a bucket underneath to catch draining water. Scoop out the grease manually and replace the trap.
Try vinegar and hot water
Before trying a caustic drain cleaner, try a simple homemade solution of hot water and vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. (Vinegar is caustic yet safer than other chemicals.) Pour the solution into the drain, then try reinforcing with very hot (almost boiling) water that may serve to melt the grease.
Try an enzyme-based cleaner
For a more thorough (and eco-friendly) cleaning of your sewer lines, an enzyme drain cleaner can be helpful. Instead of simply clearing obstructions, enzymes are bacteria that feed on the grease itself, which can be a great long-term solution once the initial clog has been cleared. After initial treatments, pour the cleaner down the drain with warm water daily for a week, then once a month or so after that to keep drains clear.
Remember, if any of the above solutions don’t work, or if you’re in doubt about the safety of your pipes, call a plumber to have the drains cleared professionally.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Palady, RMP is the President and co-owner of Budget Rooter Plumbing & Drain Cleaning. This family owned plumbing company has been serving their customers for more than 25 years, and makes customer service and quality of work their priority.
Jeff started working in the field at the age of fifteen under the tutelage of his father, who owned a Philadelphia-based plumbing and drain cleaning company. At the age of eighteen, Jeff and his mother decided to open their own shop in their home state of Delaware. For the first few years, Jeff was Budget Rooter’s only field technician, and was often out on calls until late at night while going to school to earn his Master’s License. As Budget Rooter grew, Jeff trained new technicians, researched and purchased the best equipment, and today he manages the operations of the company.
Known for being dedicated to Budget Rooter, Jeff is one of the first to arrive in the morning and is usually the last to leave. In his spare time, Jeff enjoys fishing, modifying his truck, and spending time with his wife and two sons.