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residential plumbing
Call Us Now

(805) 647-0113

How Grease and Waste Clog Your Residential Sewer Systems

residential sewer systems
Photo by Freepik

Are you wondering how grease and waste can cause blockage on residential sewer systems? Grease is a result of cooking in any kitchen, be it at home or in a busy restaurant. Dumping waste and grease down the drain may seem convenient and safe, but this habit can cause serious problems for homes, city infrastructure, and sewer systems.

At Hansen’s Plumbing and Remodeling, we are dedicated to offering valuable insights and solutions for maintaining clog-free plumbing and sewage systems. In this post, we’ll discuss the impact of grease on sewers and tips for preventing grease buildup.

What are Common Sources of Grease and Waste on Residential Sewer Systems

Fats, oils, and debris from commercial kitchens might be more hazardous to your sewer system, but that doesn’t mean residential waste and grease in sewer pipes aren’t. Grease can cause problems for septic tank-equipped homes just as much as it does for municipal sewer systems. 

Over time, even small amounts of oil down the drain might lead to issues with residential sewer systems. As cooking grease cools, solidifies, and starts to build, it can result in obstructions, which can cause backups and flooding.

Here are common sources of grease and waste buildup in sewer pipes:

  • Cooking Oils and Fats — Grease from cooking oils used in frying, baking, and sautéing is a major contributor to buildup in residential sewer systems. These oils can solidify and adhere to the walls of pipes, causing blockages.
  • Food Residues — Leftover food particles washed down kitchen sinks can contain fats and oils that contribute to grease buildup in sewer lines. Even small amounts of food waste can accumulate over time and worsen blockages.
  • Dairy Products — Butter, cheese, and other dairy products contain fats that, when washed down drains, can solidify and contribute to clogs in residential sewer systems.
  • Meat and Poultry — Fatty residues from meat and poultry products, such as bacon grease or leftover oils from cooking meats, can also accumulate in sewer lines, especially when disposed of improperly.
  • Personal Care Products — Lotions, creams, and other personal care items washed off in showers or sinks can contain oils and fats that contribute to grease buildup in residential sewer systems.
  • Cleaning Products — Some household cleaning products, especially those containing grease-cutting agents, can contribute to grease buildup in sewer lines if not rinsed away properly. Additionally, if disposed of in large quantities, these chemicals can disrupt the natural balance of wastewater treatment systems.

Harmful Effects of Grease and Waste Buildup on Residential Sewer Systems

If you cook frequently at home, grease accumulation in your pipes can cause trouble in your plumbing system. The first and most important step to preventing grease is to cool grease down and throw it in the garbage. Although it may appear a nuisance, this one move has a significant effect on the effectiveness of your sewer system.

Here are the effects of grease and waste buildup on residential sewer systems:

Blockages and Clogs

Grease and waste can accumulate inside sewer pipes, leading to blockages that restrict or completely stop the flow of wastewater. This often results in slow drains, backups, and potential overflows within the home.

Odor Issues

The decomposition of organic matter in the accumulated grease and waste can produce foul odors, which may permeate throughout the home and surrounding areas, creating an unpleasant living environment.

Corrosion and Structural Damage

Over time, the acidic nature of some waste materials and the buildup of debris can corrode sewer pipes, leading to leaks, cracks, and other structural damage. This can result in costly repairs and a decrease in the lifespan of the sewer system.

Health Risks

Sewage backups caused by grease and waste buildup can pose serious health risks to residents. Exposure to sewage can lead to bacterial infections, gastrointestinal illnesses, and other health issues, particularly for those with compromised immune systems.

<h3>Increased Maintenance Costs

Clearing blockages and repairing damage caused by grease and waste buildup can be expensive for homeowners. To address severe blockages and restore proper functionality to the sewer system, professional plumbing services may be required, resulting in additional maintenance costs.

Essential Tips to Prevent Grease and Waste in Sewer Pipes

Some homeowners believe that grease won’t cause issues if it is liquid, so they may pour it down the drain. Your drain pipes, however, are often colder than ambient temperature, and grease solidifies in contact with the chilly pipe wall. Even though the grease may not create a blockage right away, over time, little food particles that are washed down the drain may adhere to the grease and become a full obstruction or clog.

Here are practical tips to prevent grease and waste buildup in your plumbing systems:

Proper Grease Disposal

Collect grease in a container and dispose of it in the trash rather than pouring it down the drain. This simple step prevents grease from accumulating in sewer pipes.

Use Drain Strainers

Install drain strainers or traps in kitchen sinks to catch food particles and solid debris before they enter the sewer system. This helps prevent grease buildup in pipes.

Hot Water Rinse

When washing dishes or draining grease, run hot water along with it. Hot water helps keep grease in liquid form longer, reducing the likelihood of it solidifying and adhering to the pipes.

Avoid Flushing Greasy Products

Refrain from flushing greasy or oily products down drains or toilets. Items like wet wipes, paper towels, and personal care products containing oils or fats should be disposed of in the trash.

Regular Professional Maintenance

Schedule routine maintenance for your plumbing system, including professional drain cleaning services. Plumbers can inspect pipes, remove existing buildup, and provide preventive treatments to keep sewer lines clear and flowing smoothly.

residential sewer systems
Photo by Freepik

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to properly dispose of grease from cooking?

Improper disposal of grease down drains can result in accumulation within sewer lines, causing costly repairs and health hazards due to sewage backups.

How can I prevent grease buildup in my residential sewer system?

Dispose of grease in designated containers rather than down drains, use drain strainers to catch food particles, and regularly clean drains to prevent buildup.

What are the consequences of grease buildup in the sewer lines?

Grease accumulation can lead to slow drains, foul odors, and eventually complete blockages, resulting in sewage backups into homes and yards.

What should I do if I suspect a grease-related issue in my sewer system?

Contact a licensed plumber to assess the situation and perform necessary maintenance or repairs. Avoid attempting to clear blockages yourself, as this can worsen the problem.


If it has been three months or longer since your last plumbing maintenance, you should hire a professional to clean your sewer systems. Hansen’s Plumbing and Remodeling offers plumbing and drain cleaning services in Ventura County, CA. Our professional plumbers provide sewer and plumbing upkeep, repairs, and inspections.  To learn more about our plumbing services, simply contact us today.

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