Watch out for that FOG!

Fried chicken, french fries, and pan-fried goodies. What do they all have in common? FOG! Fats, Oil and Grease (FOG) can accumulate in your sewer lines for years before any noticeable problems become apparent. Some common sources of FOG include margarine, butter, shortening, meat fats, lard, and cooking oil. Pouring these materials down your drain will coat your lines and pipes with unwanted layers of greasy deposits that could block the line and create sewage backup into your homes, roadways and yards. If that doesn’t scare you enough, many homeowners don’t realize that the sewer line (the sewage infrastructure that exists between the home and the sewer main) is owned and maintained by the homeowner. This means any damage caused by a backed-up sewer line must be addressed (and paid for) by the homeowner. The unsanitary backup can create hazardous living conditions and due to potential water runoff, serious environmental concerns to the community. The best piece of advice that the Auburn Hills Department of Public Works (DPW) can give to its residents: Be proactive!

How can you be proactive?

  1. Throw away solidified grease. Instead of pouring hot grease down the drain, allow the grease and greasy foods to cool and solidify before disposing in the trash. 
  2. Use a paper towel to collect residual grease. After using a pot or pan with FOGs, use a paper towel to remove as much residual grease as possible, then dispose of the paper towel.
  3. Pour liquid FOGs into a container. For FOGs that do not solidify at room temperature, pour the liquid into a container (milk jug, soda bottle, etc.) and dispose of the bottle in your trash.
  4. Clean your drains. Pour one cup of baking soda down your drain and add one cup of vinegar. Wait for 10 to 15 minutes, and then run hot water. Cleaning your drains, however, should only serve as an extra precaution to deal with FOGs. It is never recommended to dispose of FOGs into your sink.

What are some common myths about FOG?

  1. “Running hot water will clean out your sewer line.” Although extremely hot water may temporarily loosen the grease, it will immediately re-solidify once the drains cool.
  2. “Dish soap will break down the FOG in your sewer line.” Though scrubbing greasy pans in your sink with soapy water can help break down FOG, the soap loses its effectiveness as it is diluted and the ability to scrub becomes absent.

If you experience sewer backup in your home, please first notify the City of Auburn Hills DPW at 248-391-3777. The sewer division will assess the situation to ensure the backup is not being caused by any issues associated with the City’s sewer main. If there are no issues with the sewer main, you will need to contact a licensed plumber to address the problem. Remember, the best way to address the problem is to be proactive and prevent this problem from occurring. 

Dean Lent, Department of Public Works

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