Everything you need to know about fatbergs

You’ve heard about icebergs, but do you know about fatbergs? Named for their icier relations, fatbergs are large chunks of non-flushable, congealed waste that eventually gathers into a massive blob, usually inside a pipe. These horrible build-ups cause a big problem because once they get too large, they can block pipes and can even cause sewage to back up into homes.

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What are fatbergs made from?

They are made from cooking fat, wet wipes, sanitary products and other items that shouldn’t go down the sink or toilet. These congeal together over time into a dangerous, problematic, and frankly disgusting, congealed mass.

Without proper treatment, fatbergs simply get bigger and more solid and need professional treatment to be removed. This is a dangerous job and an expensive one too. Even small build-ups in drain lining Gloucester create difficult repair jobs. Find out more from specialists such as www.wilkinson-env.co.uk/sewer-repairs-drain-lining-concrete-cutting/drain-repairs/drain-repairs-gloucester.

Key facts about fatbergs

The largest fatberg was a record 64 metres and it was removed from a Devon sewer in 2019. It took almost eight weeks of specialist work to clear. One of the other largest on record was found in London in 2017, weighing 130 tonnes.

Although we think of cooking fats as causing fatbergs, other products contribute to the problem too. These include ice cream, salad dressing, butter, Vaseline, cotton buds and tooth floss. None of these products can break down, so they build up and can cause a great deal of destruction.

Although fatbergs are constantly being dealt with by utility firms, the biggest ones can take months to clear, with the sewer management crews using high-pressure washers to clear up the blockages into smaller chunks. Much of the remaining build-up is then cleared manually before being vacuumed into specialist removal trucks.

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The cost of removing fatbergs costs the UK around £100 million every year, so to make sure you aren’t part of the problem, remember the mantra of drainage professionals everywhere: ‘Bin it, don’t block it!’. Put those solid fats and household waste items into fat traps and the bin, not into your pipes.