Cooking with grease? Avoid plumbing snags with these cleanup tips

More holiday cooking means more fat. Here’s how you can avoid more mess
cooking oil in a pot on the stove
Photo credit LauraSanFrancisco/Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The winter holidays can be hard on indoor plumbing. Latkes, bacon for breakfast, deep-fried dough — holiday celebrations feature a lot of fat, the kind we don’t splurge on very often, so a lot of us don’t remember the rules for cleaning up afterward.

The golden rule for keeping your pipes clear and intact: Do not pour grease down the drain.

“That grease, when it makes it into our sewers, mixes with other things that shouldn’t be flushed, like wipes, and you get what is known in the industry as a fatberg,” explained Philadelphia Water Department spokesperson Brian Rademaekers.

Essentially, fatbergs are large chunks of fat globbed together with other items found in sewers. They can clog up a home sanitary system, requiring a costly repair. They can also affect your neighbors — even a whole block.

The solution: Pour used oil into a can and throw it away in the trash.

Some of us may remember parents or grandparents keeping a coffee can under the sink and slowly filling it up with bacon grease and oil from deep-frying. Few of us have held onto that tradition. In these more health-conscious times, we don’t cook that way as much.

During this time of year, Rademaekers said it’s a good idea to reintroduce the grease can to your kitchen.

“Every year we hear from people about, ‘my toilet won’t flush, my water won’t go down the drain,’ and then they have to have a plumber come out and do a really expensive job of clearing that grease out,” he said.

Another common winter problem is burst pipes, especially in basements or drafty areas where temperatures may fall below 40 degrees. Make sure pipes in those areas are insulated, Rademaekers advised, and check that the water that goes to outside pipes is shut off.

“Even if you have a plumber you love, you probably don’t want them coming over during a holiday dinner,” he said.

Featured Image Photo Credit: LauraSanFrancisco/Getty Images