A drainage engineer carrying out drain jetting on a manhole.

Most people don’t think twice about pouring cooking oil down the drain. After all, it’s just a liquid, and liquids go down drains, right? Unfortunately, this is a common misconception that often ends up causing major problems in the future. Pouring oil down the drain is one of the worst things you can do for your plumbing – and for the environment. Here’s what happens when you put oil or fat down the drain – and the consequences of doing so.

When you pour oil or fat down the drain, it immediately starts to cool. This is because the pipes leading from your sink are usually cooler than the oil or fat itself. As the oil or fat cools, it starts to solidify. This can happen in as little as a few minutes, depending on the temperature of the oil or fat and the pipes. Once the oil or fat solidifies, it can create a blockage in your pipes that is difficult – and sometimes impossible – to remove.

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The Consequences of Disposing Oil and Fat Down Your Drains

If you’ve been putting oil or fat down your drains instead of disposing them properly, you could be causing recurring blockages in your drains. These substances can cause all sorts of problems in your drains, from stubborn blockages to bad smells. Here are some of the consequences of putting oil and fat down your drains.

1. Blockages

One of the most common problems that oil can cause in your drains is a blockage. When oil mixes with grease and other debris in your pipes, it can create a sticky, gooey mess that can quickly block up your drains and cause water to back up. To fix this problem, you’ll need to use a plunger or a plumbing snake to clear the blockage. However, depending on how severe the blockage is, you may need to call an expert drainage engineer to tackle the issue for you with drain unblocking services.


2. Bad Smells

You may not realise it, but disposing oil and fat down your drain can cause bad smells. So what exactly happens when oil and fat are poured down the drain? When these substances cool, they tend to solidify and cling to the sides of the pipes. Over time, this build-up can cause blockages that prevent water from flowing freely through the pipes. This can lead to bad smells as the water starts to stagnate.


3. Slow Drainage

Putting thicker substances like oil down your drains means that you risk coating the walls of your drains with oil. Over time, the oil may mix with debris and other solid items which create a thick mixture that can block up your drain and restrict water flow. If the build-up starts restricting the water flow of your drains, that will affect how quickly water can flow through. 


4. Overflowing Drains

When you dispose of oil and fat in your drains, it’s very easy for this substance to stick to the walls of your drain. Once enough fat has built-up, it will restrict the water flow going through it and eventually cause a complete blockage. When this happens, the water has no where to go in your drains and will start backing up. This effectively causes your drains to overflow because there is no where for the water to go.


5. Flooded Floors

Most people don’t think twice about pouring oil down the drain when they’re finished cooking. However, this simple act can cause major flooding problems. When oil is poured down the drain, it eventually solidifies and clogs the pipes. This can lead to a backup in the system and eventually it can a flood. In addition, the oil can contaminate the water supply and cause health problems. The best way to avoid this problem is to dispose of oil properly.


6. Water Damage

When you pour oil down your drains, it can cause water damage in a few different ways. First, the oil can build up on the inside of your pipes, causing them to narrow and eventually clog. This can lead to water backups and overflows, which can damage your walls, floors, and belongings. When the oil hardens, it can create a blockage that prevents water from flowing properly. This can cause water to back up into your home, resulting in costly repairs.


7. Ceiling Leaks

If you think that disposing oil down your drains is no big deal, think again. This seemingly minor act can actually cause ceiling leaks. Oil and water don’t mix. When you pour oil down the drain, it will eventually rise to the top of the water in the pipe and form a layer of grease. This grease will then start to attract dirt and other debris, which can clog up the pipe. As the clog starts to build up, it will put pressure on the walls of the pipe. Eventually, this pressure can become too much for the pipe to handle and it will burst, causing water to leak into your ceiling.


8. Mould and Mildew

If you pour oil down your drain, it can slowly build up and lead to the growth of mould and mildew. The oil creates a barrier that prevents moisture from evaporating, which encourages the growth of mould. Additionally, the warm, damp environment is ideal for bacteria to thrive. As the bacteria multiply, they release toxins that can cause serious respiratory problems. In severe cases, mould and mildew can even lead to serious health risks.


9. Insect Infestation

If you pour oil down your drain, it can eventually solidify and collect on the sides of your pipes. This provides a food source and breeding ground for insects, which can then enter your home through the drains. Insects are attracted to the oil because it contains nutrients that they need to survive. Once they have access to this food source, they will lay their eggs and multiply quickly. The resulting infestation can be difficult to control and may cause health problems for you and your family.


10. Fire Hazard

Most people are aware that pouring oil down the drain is bad for the environment. However, few people realize that it can also be a fire hazard. Oil is made up of hydrocarbons, which are a type of organic compound. When these hydrocarbons break down, they release methane gas which is highly flammable. When oil is poured down the drain, it can build up on the sides of the pipes and eventually create a blockage. If something was to ignite the oil, it can catch fire and this is why it’s so important to dispose of oil properly.

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How Do You Remove A Blockage In Your Drain?

If you have a clogged drain, there are a few different solutions you can try to unblock it. Here are 5 different ways you can attempt to remove the blockage.

Use boiling water: If you have a small blockage, you may be able to unblock it yourself using boiling water. Simply boil a kettle full of water and pour it down the drain. Be careful not to splash yourself, and leave the water to work for a few minutes before flushing the drain with cold water.

Use a plunger: If boiling water doesn’t work, or if you have a bigger blockage, you can try using a plunger. Put the plunger over the drain and make sure there’s enough water to cover the plunger. Push and pull the plunger up and down, and you should feel the blockage starting to move. Once you’ve dislodged the blockage, flush the drain with cold water.

Use a drain snake: If a plunger doesn’t work, you can try using a drain snake. Feed the drain snake into the drain until you feel it hit the blockage. Then, turn the handle to start breaking up the blockage. Once you’ve dislodged the blockage, flush the drain with cold water.

Use a chemical drain cleaner: If you’ve tried all of the above and you’re still struggling to unblock your drain, you can try using a chemical drain cleaner. Be careful with these, as they can be corrosive and damaging to your pipes. Only use a cleaner that’s safe for your particular type of pipes, and follow the instructions on the packaging.

Call a drainage engineer: If you’ve tried everything and you’re still struggling to unblock your drain, it’s time to call Drain 247. We’ll be able to identify the problem and fix it quickly and efficiently with our drain jetting equipment. Call us on 0800 612 8038.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a number of consequences to pouring oil or fat down the drain. In addition to being a huge inconvenience, it can also cause extensive damage to your home. So, next time you’re cooking, make sure to dispose of your oil or fat properly – in the trash, not down the drain.