Have you heard of FOG buildup? While this may sound like a weather phenomenon, it’s not. In this instance, FOG stands for fats, oils, and grease, and it’s a common term used in the plumbing industry. The truth is that many drain pipe and sewer line clogs get their start due to someone putting fat, oil, lard, or grease down the drain of their kitchen sink. As that hot fat cools, it solidifies in the pipe, and once it gets stuck inside the pipe, it can attract other objects, leading to slow or completely blocked drains. In severe instances, you may even experience nasty drain backups in your building. Let’s take a look at how you can help prevent FOG buildup and drain blogs in your highrise building.

Inform Your Tenants on the Proper Way to Dispose of Grease

Protecting the drains in your highrise apartment building starts with educating your tenants. This can be done as an email, pamphlet, or note under their doors. You can even include the information with their lease statements.

When it comes to disposing of grease, tenants should be instructed to never rinse it down the drains in their apartments or condos, not even if they dump hot or boiling water down the drain along with the grease. This is because the hot water and grease will cool before the grease exits the drain pipes. Instead of helping the grease travel through the drain, the hot water only serves to ensure that it solidifies deeper in the drainage system.

For example, imagine someone dumping grease down a drain in one of your upper floors. As it travels through the pipes and down your building, it solidifies on the second or third floor, causing a blockage for those units. As a landlord or property manager, you may be tempted to blame those residents for the grease blockage, when it actually came from much higher in the building.

If that same grease were also poured down the drain along with boiling water, you may also notice pipe damage. Extended use of boiling water on plastic plumbing pipes, including PEX, PVC, and CPVC, can melt the pipes or damage the adhesive on the fittings. This can lead to the pipes becoming distorted. If the pipe starts to bow, distort, or dip due to having excessive boiling water poured down it, it can lead to clogs because the pipe surface is no longer smooth. Not to mention, many pipe fittings are secured using adhesive, and boiling water could cause a loss of adhesion, resulting in leaks.

Consider Installing Grease Traps

If you’re expressly worried about grease solidifying in your wastewater pipes, you can install grease traps. Grease traps are most commonly found in restaurants, commercial kitchens, and food manufacturing buildings. Grease traps help separate the grease from the water before it enters the sewer pipe. They are most commonly installed outside of the building so that they can be easily cleaned by professional crews. Grease traps can be installed outside the building, in basements, and in loading docks, where crews can easily reach the boxes to clean them. They can also be installed near stoves and sinks.

Make Sure You’re Regularly Cleaning and Inspecting Your Drain Lines

To help prevent FOG buildup in your drain pipes, you should schedule regular inspections and cleanings. A plumbing inspection involves sending a camera down your drain lines on a flexible cable. The camera then projects images onto a screen that the Chicago plumber can observe. This allows the plumber to determine if there is grease in the drain and how much grease is in the drain. They can also tell you if you have any full or partial clogs.

If your drain pipes do have grease in them or clogs, it’s important to have those pipes cleaned. This is usually done with a hydrojetter. Hydrojetters use pressurized water to clear clogs. When the hydrojetter is turned on, the water breaks apart the clog and rinses it through the pipes to the city’s municipal plumbing system. Highrise buildings should have their drain lines inspected once every 1.5 to 2 years.

Implement Proper FOG Disposal

Proper FOG disposal involves several steps. The first step is to understand what’s considered as FOG and FOG buildup. While FOG includes fats, oils, and greases, many people don’t understand the depth and breadth of the category. Fats include butter, cooking oil, shortening, lard, suet and ghee. It’s important to understand that cooking oil encompasses all seed oils and shortenings, like Crisco. Seed oil includes olive oil, peanut oil, corn oil, soybean oil, margarine, coconut oil, avocado oil, palm oil, flaxseed oil, generic vegetable oil and sesame oil as well as all the other various types of seed oils.

FOG can also be created by cooking meats. This includes cooking beef, chicken, pork, lamb, or any other type of animal meat. The drippings left in the bottom of the pan contain oils and fats and should never be put down any drain. Of course, many building owners and tenants aren’t aware that gravy, sauces, mayonnaise, salad dressing, meat scraps, and sour cream are also considered FOGs and shouldn’t be put down the drains.

Once everyone understands FOGs, it’s important to understand what to do with the items. The first step is to let the grease, oil, or fat cool. Next, scrape or pour the FOGs into a glass bottle or jar. The goal is to leave as little of the fat and scraps in the pan as possible.

Once the FOGs are in the jar, the lid should be screwed onto the jar tightly, and the jar should be thrown away in the trash. If the jar isn’t full and the individual wishes to use it for fat disposal until it is full, it should be labeled as ‘used cooking oil’. Alternatively, if the fat, oil, grease, lard, or meat scraps are completely cool, they can be put into a sealable bag, like a food storage bag or freezer bag, and thrown away.

What To Do if You Have Clogged Drains From FOGs

If all your preventative measures aren’t enough and you still end up with a clogged drain or sewer line, you should call a professional plumber to clean and clear the drain. Additionally, you may consider lining your pipes with epoxy. Choosing to line your pipes with epoxy can improve water flow by maximizing the internal diameter and creating a smooth surface for wastewater to traverse. Epoxy pipelining is also seamless. When plumbing pipes are connected, seams and joints are created. Epoxy pipeliners are designed to fit inside the pipe and cut to the appropriate length. This helps reduce the number of seams and joints where food particles and grease can be caught.

Epoxy Pipelining with NuFlow Midwest in Chicago

If you’re concerned about FOG buildup and clogs and the status of your drain pipes and sewer lines, epoxy pipelining may be able to help. At NuFlow Midwest, we can evaluate your drain pipes and sewer lines to see if they can be lined with epoxy. We do this via a Building Pipe Assessment. A building pipe assessment is a service we have to assess the condition of your plumbing pipes with a camera inspection. This helps us create a report on your plumbing pipes, determine if there are any clogs or breaks in the line, and provide you with a detailed estimate for pipelining. Our pipelining technicians can also answer all of your questions so that you understand the process. If you do decide to have your plumbing pipes lined with epoxy, we’ll set up a pipelining schedule. This schedule is to ensure that you and your residents know when we’ll be on-site and what to expect while we’re at your location. Of course, it usually only takes a day or two to line each run of pipe, and the process is relatively quiet when compared to other types of plumbing services.

To learn more about pipelining and to schedule an appointment, contact us.