Fixing Your Plumbing To Fix Your Life

Addicted to Greasy Foods? How Can You Protect Your Plumbing?

While low-fat versions of many foods are mass produced to appeal to consumers who are looking to shed a few pounds, you may find these modified foods unappealing or overly sugary. Indeed, there are evolutionary factors at play that simply make fatty foods taste better than their low-fat or fat-free brethren. While recent research has indicated that fat—including the once-dreaded saturated fat—is not only not unhealthy, but actually good for you, the same can't be said for fat's effect on your home's plumbing system. Even if you're judicious about not pouring bacon grease down the drain and using only hot water to flush greasy scraps down the garbage disposal, grease buildup over time can eventually lead to problems with your home's plumbing and septic tank. Read on to learn more about how you can protect your pipes while still enjoying the high-fat and greasy foods you love. 

How does grease harm your pipes?

Unlike draining corrosive liquids or too-large solids into your plumbing system, disposing of grease in and of itself won't harm your pipes. However, this sticky fat will quickly begin to coat the insides of your garbage disposal, pipes, and septic tank, becoming very difficult to remove. Over time, this fat will continue to narrow the interior diameter of your home's pipes, making them more vulnerable to clogging or backing up. Grease that makes its way to your septic tank can throw off the balance of bacteria and enzymes responsible for breaking down your solid waste, causing your tank to fill more quickly than it otherwise would. If your septic tank is made from concrete, it likely leaches filtered water through this concrete and into the surrounding soil. Grease can coat the interior surfaces of this concrete septic tank, making drainage difficult and contaminating the water that does manage to make it through. 

While you may already make an effort to keep grease from building up on the insides of your pipes by rinsing any greasy pans with extra-hot water, which helps keep the grease liquid rather than allowing it to congeal to a waxy substance, this process is rendered ineffective if your pipes are cold. As soon as this grease hits cold pipes, it will begin to congeal—no matter how much hot water you use.

What can you do to keep your pipes and septic system protected against grease? 

Fortunately, there are a few relatively simple fixes that can guard your plumbing against the problems caused by grease drainage.

  • Reroute your garbage disposal's waste into the compost bin

If you can't live without your garbage disposal, you're likely adding more grease to your septic system than you realize. Even certain types of fruit rinds contain oil, and grinding this organic matter up only releases this fat. However, if you have a garden and are interested in starting a compost bin, you may be able to reroute the water draining through your garbage disposal into this bin, adding some valuable fatty acids to your compost to help increase its quality. This helps keep greasy water and food scraps out of your septic system while providing you with a free source of fertilizer. 

  • Flush your drains with salt and enzymes

If you're reluctant to use commercial drain cleaners to try to remove the stubborn grease coating the insides of your pipes, enzymes may be a more effective (and more eco-friendly) option. These enzymes essentially "eat" grease, and adding them to your water supply can help clean up any grease sticking to your pipes without requiring the use of chemicals or high-powered cleaning devices. 

Another effective grease-zapping option is ordinary table salt. The sodium in salt reacts with fat to change its chemical composition (which is why salt is often used to preserve or cure high-fat foods like ham). By generously mixing salt with water, pouring it down your drain, and giving it a few minutes to work before you begin running hot water, you should be able to significantly reduce the amount of grease buildup in your pipes. If you need further help with drain cleaning, contact a company like Backlund Plumbing.