How to prevent oil and fat from blocking drains

Blocked grease and fat filled pipe.

Every year, thousands of drains are blocked by fats and oils being poured down them. It’s a problem that plagues both homes and businesses, but it’s the restaurant and catering industry that falls victim most often.

This is when companies like Lanes for Drains are called, and drainage engineers across the country spend time undoing damage fat, oil and grease have caused (we like to call them FOGs). It can be a pricey call for restaurants to make, especially when it can be prevented so easily!

We asked the experts – a selection of engineers from Lanes and drainage specialists from other companies – about their experiences to see just how much of a problem blocked drains can be. 78% of the engineers we surveyed are called out at least once a month, while 50% stated they dealt with drain related issues in restaurants multiple times a week.
Keeping your commercial kitchen’s drains clean and unclogged really is simple. Here’s our top tips for ensuring they stay oil-free.

Take time to educate staff

94% of engineers surveyed have been called out to fix drains blocked by oils and fats. Even when oils are hot, they can still block drains. It’s a misconception made by many, but once the oil cools down it hardens and won’t budge without expert interference.

Educating staff about the correct way to dispose of oils was the most frequently suggested solution our engineers provided to prevent drain blockages. 70% of our engineers recognised lack of knowledge was the biggest issue, and taking time to train what can and cannot be put down a drain can save businesses a lot of money in the long run. It’s all about changing our behaviour.

Explain the importance of preparation to staff and provide alternative solutions to simply washing everything down the drain. Instruct them to dispose of unwanted oils by scraping away any waste into a bin before patting the dish down to remove oil with a paper towel.

Arrange for waste oil to be collected

If there’s a lot of excess oil, encourage staff to join you in recycling waste cooking oil. Services are available to collect waste oil from your premises and they often provide safe containers to store the oil before collection. Check with the Environment Agency to see which services are available in your local area.

Install a grease trap

Make sure you’re providing the right facilities so your staff can safely dispose of fats and oils. 62% of the engineers pointed out that a lack of appropriate facilities often leads to major drainage problems, and many suggested installing grease traps to combat the issue.

Grease traps intercept FOGs before they manage to settle in drains, separating the water from all of those substances you don’t want to go down a drain. They should be maintained regularly to ensure they’re working well – you’ll probably be shocked by how much oil, fat and grease they collect!

Don’t be fooled by oils like coconut and rapeseed

‘Fashionable’ oils such as coconut oil are just as harmful as traditional cooking oils, but one of the engineers noted that many people seem to forget this. It’s important to be just as careful when disposing of ‘fashionable’ oils and owners may find it useful to put up friendly signs around the kitchen to help staff remember this.

Don’t forget, it’s not just oils, fats and grease that can block drains. Make sure every sink has a strainer to prevent unwanted food clogging up the drain, and never brush excess food down floor drains (it all ends up in the same place after all!)

If your kitchen does have a blocked drain, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. A member of our friendly team can help you get rid of any unwanted fat.

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