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City of Wheeling Offers Tips to Keep Home Plumbing, Public Sewer Lines Clear of Holiday Clogs

WHEELING – Proper disposal of fats, oils and grease (FOG) typical with cooking can cut down on or alleviate the chances of home plumbing and sewer line backup, making for a holiday season much more pleasant for residents — and less expensive for the City of Wheeling.

City FOG Coordinator Mike Chiazza explained the city spends more than $100,000 a year cleaning grease out of sewer lines.

“When grease gets into the sewers it hardens and builds up and causes blockages in public sewer lines and home plumbing,” he said. “Grease blockages, combined with other debris, cause sewage to back up in homes and neighborhoods. These backups are unpleasant to deal with, smelly and will damage the environment.”

The popular trend of frying a whole turkey in an outdoor fryer for Thanksgiving can result in about 20 gallons of used cooking oil.

“Fryer oil is not the only source of increased FOG going to sewers during the holiday season,” Chiazza said. “Many other foods such as bacon grease, cooking oil, shortening, lard, butter or margarine, gravy, mayonnaise, salad dressing, sour cream and meat drippings contain some kind of fat, oil or grease.”

Homes are most at risk when someone is washing up after the feast, according to Chiazza.

“Hot water will keep FOG liquefied for a couple of moments, but as soon as FOG reaches cold pipes, everything cools, and it will solidify quickly,” he said.

Chiazza offered the following tips for remaining clog-free not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year:

To properly dispose of FOG, pour greasy and oily waste into a container, such as an empty can. Let the can cool and throw it away in the garbage in a sealed bag to avoid spillage.

Properly dispose of used cooking oil by letting the oil cool then put it back into the container in which it was purchased. The oil can be refrigerated and reused, or the container can be sealed and placed in the trash for collection.

Scrape food scraps into the trash, not the sink. Wipe pots, pans, and dishes with dry paper towels before rinsing or washing them, then throw away the paper towels. Place a catch basket or screen over the sink drain when rinsing dishware, or when peeling or trimming food, to catch small scraps that would otherwise be washed down the drain. Throw the scraps in the trash.

For questions or more information on how to properly manage fats, oil and grease from household cooking, contact Chiazza at 304-234-3874.

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