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6 Dos and Don’ts to keep FOG at bay – and drains unblocked

AQS Environmental Solutions is urging restaurants and food businesses to follow simple steps to clear the FOG – and keep drains and sewers running smoothly.

The drain unblocking and repair specialist, based in Thurles, Tipperary, Limerick and Cork, is highlighting 6 ‘Dos and Don’ts’ that will significantly reduce the risk of sewers needing emergency cleaning as a result of build ups of fats, oils and grease.

Stan O’Neill, Commercial Director at AQS Environmental Solutions, says: “It may seem strange for a drainage company to urge businesses to prevent blocked drains, a bit like turkey’s voting for Christmas, but it makes a good deal of sense.

“We would rather use our expertise to keep drains working as part of a preventive maintenance service, instead of constantly having to respond to emergency blockage situations.

“That would be more cost-effective for our customers as well, as dealing with emergency drainage problems can be more expensive in the long-run than preventing them. Also, the wider community benefits from fewer incidents of localised flooding and lower water bills.”

What is FOG – and why is it a problem?

FOG stands for ‘Fats, Oils and Grease’ – three products frequently and wrongly disposed of down sinks and drains. These waste products mix together and solidify to block drains and sewers, causing build-ups of waste water, which can cause flooding, sometimes across a wide area.

In extreme cases, FOG can build up to such a degree, that it causes ‘fatbergs’ – giant masses of fat and oil that mix with other waste such as wipes and sanitary products – that block whole main sewers for many metres.

Sometimes, FOG is created by restaurants, food businesses, and homeowners, deliberately disposing of waste down drains, knowing what they are doing is wrong. However, sometimes FOG problems, such as blocked drains and sewer floods, can be caused by accident, because simple preventative measures are not in place.

Above is examples of drains and blockages caused by various items disposed incorrectly like rags that have then been caught and entwined with the build up of Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) which has led to sever blockages. 

Why it’s good to say no to FOG

It’s not all bad though. An increasing number of responsible food outlets see the benefits to themselves and their neighbours of being clear that FOG is a no-no.

They see being compliant with wastewater guidance and legislation is part of their responsibility as good neighbours, since blocking drains is going to affect other local businesses and residents.

As such, as more people become aware of the causes of blocked drains, the best food outlets, restaurants and food manufacturers know that taking measures to minimise FOG are an important part of their long-term good business reputation success.

FOG – the dos and don’ts

DON’T – put fats and oils down the sink or drain, even in small amounts. Even liquid oils congeal and become solid in sewers as they cool, and mix with other debris, so they can still cause sewer blockages

DO – use strainers in sinks to collect waste food matter. These small bits of waste food can mix with FOG to accelerate the drain blocking process

DON’T – sweep kitchen waste into flood drains. It’s tempting as a quick fix during a busy day in the kitchen, but it will build up drain problems under your feet, literally! These under-floor drains are small diameter and often have sharp bends, so clearing these drain blockages can be more difficult.

DO – mop up grease spills with paper towels and place them in a bin. Using a kitchen cloth and squeezing it into the sink has the same effect as pouring oil down the plughole!

DON’T – use put harmful chemicals down sinks or drains to clear blockages. These can cause pollution incidents and create fumes that could be dangerous. If a drain is blocked, it needs to be cleared by a professional contractor using the right equipment.

DO – have your drainage grease traps and interceptors checked and cleaned frequently to ensure they are working properly. As your business grows, they may have to be upgraded. Also put in place a programme of preventative drainage maintenance. This will prevent emergency blockages and the additional cost and legal risk of not maintaining drains properly.

Above is an example of a drain that has blocked due to a build up of FOG. in this picture is an example of the before an after, once Lanes Group engineers have tackled the problem. 

For more DOs and DON’Ts about FOG in commercial kitchens and food premises, read this helpful guide created by Irish Water. (Click here to see the Irish Water guide.)

If you have concerns about FOG or drainage maintenance in your food premises, restaurant, café or pub, you can contact us here at AQS Environmental Solutions. We are here to offer expert advice and service whenever it is needed.

Telephone: 1800 500 020. Email:

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