Defining What a Fatberg Is

What’s a Fatberg?

At Stephens Plumbing, we’ve seen it all. Among those things is the ominous-sounding “fatberg.” Unless you’ve had one, you may not have heard of fatbergs. Fatberg describes a mass that blocks a sewage system. They’re made up of nonbiodegradable materials, including oil, grease, or things that simply shouldn’t be put down the drain, like “flushable wipes.” Some things seem to be safe to pour down the drain, like oil in a pan, but the liquid then later congeals in the drain.

How to Prevent Fatbergs

Prevention of a fatberg is essential to the health of your sewer system or septic tank system. Most kitchen and bathroom products can’t be put down the drain. Among those are any type of wipes (cleaning, flushable, or wet), diapers, sanitary products, tissues or paper towels, band-aids, medicine, dental floss, q-tips, cotton balls, or anything that qualifies as a fat, oil, or grease. In the United States, approximately half of all sewer blockages are caused by grease, so that’s the most important one to avoid. In general, a fatberg is 70% congealed oil and fat, 25% sanitary products, and 5% “other” materials, including things as simple as dirt and silt from roads that get washed down the sewer system.

The Growth of Fatbergs

Fatbergs tend to start much smaller, eventually growing into their full size aptly named to resemble the word “iceberg.” Instead, a small portion of waste forms a mass, and grows as more and more things stick to it. What grows the fatberg includes all the aforementioned things as well as sewage as the fatberg begins to block the drain. Once the fatberg grows to fill the whole diameter of the drain or sewer, no water can flow, leading to flooding and pollution.

How to Remove Fatbergs

If you have a fatberg, it’s best to leave them to the professionals. Fatbergs create chaos quickly, creating blockages and sewage overflows that dirty and destroy your home. While going DIY is fun, fatberg removal requires commercial level equipment. These fatbergs can be as strong as concrete. Removal of a fatberg requires, on average, one wastewater network engineer, 16 lane engineer crews, 2 recycler jet vac tanker engineers, 2 CCTV drainage survey engineers, 2 confined space rescue operatives, and 1 tanker operative. These workers take apart fatbergs by using special, pressurized water jets to break off pieces of the fatberg. Then, pieces may be removed manually or with the help of vacuum powered tanker units. It usually takes one vacuumation tanker, one recycler jet vac tanker, and one CCTV unit with a robotic camera.

Stephens Can Handle It

Luckily for most, fatbergs do come in much smaller sizes. They can prove to be inconveniences for homes, apartment complexes, and commercial buildings just as much as they can be full-scale sewer blockages. For those fatbergs just affecting your residence or business, we can help. Our plumbers at Stephens are experienced, and know precisely which tools and equipment are needed to successfully remove it. Our team knows to break the masses into smaller pieces, more easily removing them bit by bit. Our Stephens team is always happy to make plumbing easier, even when it comes to fatbergs.

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