Protect Your Pipes by Keeping Fats, Oils and Grease Out of Your Drains!

Avoid costly repairs and messy plumbing backups by always remembering to can your grease. It is important not to pour fats, oils and grease, also known as FOG, down your drains, as it can create buildup in wastewater pipes. Stafford County spends $1.6 million annually on preventive and removal efforts due to the improper disposal of FOG in the sanitary sewer system, a cost that affects water and sewer bill rates.

When cooking by-products like fats, oils and grease are dumped down household drains, including dishwashers and garbage disposals, they cool, harden and then stick together. When other items travel down the pipes, they get trapped in the grease, possibly resulting in clogged pipes and backups in the home.

FOG materials can damage household pipes and the larger water system. “Fatbergs” can form in the sanitary sewer system when FOG by-products are mixed with other things that should not be flushed or poured down the drains. When this happens, sewer backups can occur, which arecostly to the County to repair and a health threat to people and their pets as sewage is full of bacteria and contaminants. To help prevent this issue, especially during the holidays, Stafford County’s Utilities Department asks its customers to remember three simple steps: can it, cool it and toss it.

FOG is found in many of the foods we regularly consume, including meats, sauces, gravies, cooking oils, mayonnaise, cheese, ice cream, butter, salad dressing and milk and compostable food waste. You can prevent overflows, flooding and property damage caused by FOG entering your pipes by simply canning grease and cooling it before throwing it away. Another helpful hint is to wipe plates and pans with a paper towel to remove any leftover food and grease before washing or placing it in a dishwasher. Don’t use a towel or a rag to wipe plates or clean grease. When you wash them, the grease ends up in the sewer.

Additionally, the steps below can help ensure that no fats, oils or grease enter the sanitary sewer.

  • Can It - Collect and properly dispose of cooking oils and grease by pouring it into a heat-proof container like an aluminum can.
  • Cool IT – Let the FOG cool in the container.
  • Toss It – Toss it in the trash and/or take it to the Regional Landfill, 489 Eskimo Hill Road, Stafford, VA 22554, or the Belman Road Recycling Center, 1200 Belman Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22401. You can leave the containers there, and staff will dispose of the oil adequately. Fitted sink strainers can catch larger pieces of solid waste and then be thrown in a trash can.

By disposing of FOG in the trash and not down the drain, you can help save pipes and wastewater systems from expensive clogs and costly repairs. As you prepare your holiday dinners this year, remember this simple motto: “Enjoy the feast and can your grease.”

If you have any additional questions about sewer blockages and what can safely be put into the wastewater system, please visit https://staffordcountyva.gov/fog.