Mega fatburg in the UK - how it is your problem too.
Sidmouth, population of 12 500-ish, is a seaside town in Devon, England, about the size of Lithgow or Muswellbrook, with its very own humungous fatberg.
Picture yourself standing at the shallow end of an Olympic swimming pool, this massive collection of fat, grease, oil, wet wipes, food scraps, cotton balls, and more would run the length of the pool, past the starting blocks at the other end, through cement area where you line up for your race, and over the grassy bit at the back (which for some reason is always covered in bindies or green ants). That’s one whopper of a 65 metre mess. (Please note - this is a vague description of your average Australian country town pool, the one in your area could differ slightly but you get the drift.)
Over time this collection of gunk has solidified, so much so the poor (hopefully highly paid) people who are tasked with clearing the monster blob will need to use pickaxes and shovels to break it down and remove it.
This time of year the weather in Sidmouth gets to around zero at night and a balmy 9 degrees during the day. Imagine being down a large sewer drain in freezing conditions, hacking away at a disgusting mass of smelly muck, not a pleasant task to say the least.
Have we put you off your skinny latte and protein ball yet?
You’re probably thinking ‘Pfft, what’s a blocked drain on the other side of the world got to do with me?’.
Firstly, this exact issue is occurring all over the world. Including in your town. Every day in the sewers and drains beneath the very streets you drive to get to work fatbergs accumulate. The cost of clearing eventually passed on to residents through higher council rates and fees.
Councils in Australia alone are spending millions on clearing blockages in the drains of towns and cities across the country. Worldwide the bill would be astronomical.
And councils are not the only ones footing the drain clearing bill, homeowners are affected too. Our plumbers clear drains blocked with fat, oil, grease, household scraps and rubbish each week throughout Sydney.
Secondly, the problem is caused by households just like yours. Not big business, or restaurants and fast food joints, the average suburban home. A fatberg doesn’t occur overnight, they build up bit by bit, frying pan by frying pan, wet wipe by wet wipe, each day.
The great thing about this is your home can also be part of the solution. It will take a whole community effort to stop this problem but it all starts with a change of habit in each individual home.
How to prevent your very own fatberg
Preventing your very own fatberg will have a flow-on effect of significant proportions.
- Stick to the 3 P rule for the toilet. The only things that go into the toilet are pee, poo, and paper.
- DO NOT FLUSH WET WIPES - regardless of what it says on the packet. Throw them in the rubbish bin. Every time, no exception.
- Do not flush sanitary items, nappies, nappy liners, cotton buds, cotton balls, makeup remover pads, (pretty much anything that is not the 3 P’s).
- Collect fat, grease and oil from cooking in an old jar or can and dispose of in the rubbish once it has cooled.
- Use a sink strainer (a little grate or guard which covers the drain hole in the sink) to prevent food debris travelling down the drain.
- Clear and clean dishwasher filters regularly.
- Use a sink strainer in the vanity, bath and shower drains to catch hair, soap bits and other debris.
Signs you have your very own fatberg developing in your drains
Some of the first signs your home has a fatberg growing in the drain are slow draining sink or shower and a seriously nasty odour coming up from any of the drains.
Worried? Give our plumbing team a call. We can check out the health of your drains with our CCTV drain camera and quickly clear any developing blockages.