With the warmer weather approaching, many of us will be looking forward to getting outside with friends and family and indulging in a barbecue or two. But lots of the food we love to cook contains fat, oil and grease which, while tempting to the tastebuds, is not so favourable for our homes and the environment if it enters our sewers.

If we put the wrong thing down the sink or loo, it could really spoil the fun. Here’s how you can avoid a blocked drain and keep the party going this summer.

Sadly, 300,000 homes suffer from sewer flooding each year. Most of these are caused by people putting the wrong things down their drains. We’re sure you’d rather be kicking back with an ice-cold drink and soaking up the summer sun than dealing with a blockage, so we’re spreading the word about how people can do their bit to protect their homes and communities from sewer flooding.

The Argus: Sadly, 300,000 homes suffer from sewer flooding each yearSadly, 300,000 homes suffer from sewer flooding each year

Food for thought…

Fat, oil and grease (FOG) is used in nearly all types of cooking, then left over on plates and pans once everyone’s had their fill. If it’s washed down sinks or drains – during cooking or washing up – it can harden in the pipes and restrict the flow of water. If wastewater has nowhere else to go, it can back-up into your toilets and sinks and flood local homes and businesses. The mess is horrible, your favourite things could be ruined, and the repairs can be costly. Because all our pipes are linked, your neighbours could be the ones who suffer too.

To protect homes and communities from sewer flooding, our dedicated FOG and Unflushables team investigates sewer blockages and shares tips to keep drains flowing. This year, we’re targeting blockage hotspots across our region.

The Argus: Oil and fat from cooking can block pipesOil and fat from cooking can block pipes

While one crew surveys and cleans the sewers, another team goes door-to-door to talk to local people about how they can help us keep them flowing freely. The team has discovered over 1,000 blockages, mostly caused by people’s habits:

  • 40% were caused by unflushables people had flushed down toilets. These are things like wet wipes, cotton buds and period products. They often contain plastic and don’t break apart very easily, so they stick together in the pipes and cause blockages.
  • 13% were caused by fat, oil and grease (FOG) washed down people’s kitchen sinks. After they enter the sewer, FOG can build-up and harden like concrete and cause fatbergs to form, especially when unflushables get stuck in the congealed FOG.

The Argus: Fat can harden in the pipes Fat can harden in the pipes

Don’t cut the fun short

This summer, we want you to keep the party going and your drains flowing. So, here’s how you and your guests can help:

In the kitchen – Indulging in some tasty barbecue food? Dispose of the leftover fat in the bin – never down the sink. Scrape your plates before you wash up and collect any cooled FOG from cooking in a used jar or container and bin it.

In the bathroom – Keep the three Ps in mind when flushing the loo. Only flush pee, poo and paper. Everything else goes in the bin – even products labelled ‘flushable’ or ‘bio-degradable’.  

If you’re one of our many customers already disposing of household waste in this way and helping to keep it clear, thank you.

Following these simple tips will help us prevent blockages and floods, and make sure nobody’s fun is cut short this summer.