What Causes Fatbergs and How to Prevent Them? 

We have heard lots of stories about fatbergs in the news recently. These stories have highlighted just how much of an issue fatbergs are to our sewer networks. But what are they, and can they be prevented?

To find out everything you need to know about fatbergs, how fatbergs form and what you can do to prevent them, keep reading below:

What Are Fatbergs?

If you’ve ever had trouble with your drains, there’s a high probability that you’ve already had to deal with fatbergs. A fatberg is a solid mass of fat or waste matter found in a sewerage system. It is a pretty typical drainage system issue.

Read more: What is a Fatberg? 

Are Fatbergs a Big Issue in the UK?

Although fatbergs never used to be a significant issue in the UK, statistics suggest this is no longer the case. If we take last year as an example, the government had to spend a whopping £80 million on removing fatbergs from the sewer systems. While most of the fatbergs they removed were small, some made the headlines due to their size. 

One fatberg recently discovered in Devon made the headlines after it took sewerage workers eight weeks to remove it. This fatberg measured 240m, which is the equivalent to the length of Tower Bridge in London.

What Causes Fatbergs?

cooking oil

Before discussing how to prevent fatbergs, we first need to discuss the facts about fatbergs and what causes them. Fatbergs are solid masses consisting of congealed fats and oils and hygiene products flushed down the toilet. This includes things like:

  • cotton buds
  • wet wipes
  • nappies
  • sanitary towels

While these products might not cause an issue on their own, the problem starts when fat and grease combine with them inside the sewerage pipe, causing a blockage. If these blockages, or fatbergs, are not found quickly, they can cause considerable risk to the sewers and those working in them. It can also cause problems for the general public, as blockages prevent wastewater from leaving a premises, meaning it could come back up through the pipes and cause flooding. 

And it’s not just humans who are at risk. Items that are disposed of in the sewerage system can make their way into the oceans. This can pose a massive threat to marine wildlife. Thankfully, some things can be done to prevent fatbergs from forming. 

How to Prevent Fatbergs

As mentioned above, each year in the UK, over £80 million is spent on removing fatbergs. This sum of money is paid for by the general public and businesses through their water bills. However, in order to reduce this sum, we need to work together to prevent fatbergs from forming. But is this possible?

You’ll be pleased to hear that fatbergs are entirely avoidable. To prevent fatbergs from forming, you must:

  • Avoid pouring fats, oils, and grease down the drain – cooking fat and other types of fats and oils are one of the main components of fatbergs. When oils and grease combine with other products, such as baby wipes, they create solid masses that block the drains. 
  • Be careful what products you flush down the waste disposal system – you should never flush sanitary or hygiene products down the toilet. This includes things like sanitary towels, wet wipes, nappies, and cotton wool. These items are un-flushable and need to be disposed of correctly. Not doing so could cause issues to occur. 
  • Scrape your food plates – scrape any leftover food into the bin before washing your dishes. 
  • Stick to toilet paper – the only things safe to flush down a toilet are wee, poo, and toilet paper. In fact, bamboo toilet paper is quite good for your drains.
  • Regularly maintain your drains – this allows you to spot issues and deal with them quickly before more serious issues arise. 
  • Install a grease trap – grease traps collect oil, grease, and fats that have been flushed down the sink.  
  • Provide adequate facilities to deal with waste and oil – businesses can play a huge role in tackling fatbergs by providing their employees and visitors with adequate facilities to deal with waste and oil properly. This includes introducing effective waste disposal units in toilets. 
  • Ensure employees have the correct training – if employees are unaware of what a fatberg is and what issues it can cause, they will not try and prevent them from forming. So, it’s essential that you train your employees in this area. 

In the past, fatbergs weren’t an issue; however, we are hearing more and more news stories about them. This is mainly because of our changing habits. Britain’s plastic crisis and what we pour down our drains are to blame. Thankfully, fatbergs can be prevented by following the advice above. 

If you have a fatberg that is causing you drainage issues then you need to get it sorted! Speak to the expert drainage cleaners at First Response Drainage. We can help shift your fatberg and get your drainage in top shape, we will even use our CCTV for drains to make sure it is completely clear!