Q: What happens if I pour grease down the kitchen sink?
A: I admit I’m cheating a little with this column, since this isn’t a question anyone posed recently. But I wanted to raise the topic because top-rated plumbers tell our team that grease-clogged drains are a significant source of service calls, and it’s such a preventable problem.
And, according to the city of Raleigh, improper discharge of fats, oils and grease into the sanitary sewer system is a leading cause of sewer overflows. The sanitary sewer system is the network of underground pipes that carry wastewater from your sinks, toilets, showers, tubs and interior floor drains to the treatment plant.
In case your parents or grandparents didn’t tell you, or you weren’t listening at the time, allow me to drive home this message: Do not pour cooking oil or other greasy materials down the kitchen sink.
Here’s why: Vegetable oil and animal fats used in cooking may be liquid after use, but they can harden inside pipes. And depending on how your waste lines are piped, a blockage may back up not only the kitchen drain, but also adjacent laundry or bath lines.
While you may be able to unclog a grease blockage yourself, it’s also possible your efforts will backfire. Plumbers tell us they often see situations in which people damage pipes with chemicals and end up spending more money than it would have cost to call a pro.
Having a plumber deal with a minor clog can cost you $100 to $200. Serious blockages, or situations in which damaged pipes must be replaced, could cost around $1,000.
Instead of pouring grease down the drain, wipe it off the pot or pan with a paper towel and throw it away. Or pour cooled oil and fats into non-recyclable containers and then dispose with the trash.
You might also try these tips from top-rated plumbers for helping ensure clear-running kitchen drains:
• Pour bleach down the drain once a week.
• Periodically fill the sink with hot water before allowing it to drain. Or, run hot water down the drain after each use.
But if you change just one thing, make it to never again pour oil and fats down the drain. Then, instead of spending money on a preventable plumbing call, skip the cooking oil altogether and treat yourself to dinner out.