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Home : News : News
NEWS | Dec. 20, 2018

Know what goes down the drain and avoid the pain

By Richard Hopewell 802nd Civil Engineering Squadron

Our sewers are not designed to cope with modern disposable products. As a result, these items can cause blockages.


The drains connecting your home (or place of work) to the main sewer lines are only big enough to carry water, toilet paper and human waste and are often no wider than four inches.


Around 75 percent of blockages involve disposable items. To avoid drain pain and a drain on resources, remember to bag it and put in the garbage ... don’t flush it!


Disposable products, such as cotton balls, condoms, diapers and plastics can find their way into the environment if they are flushed down the drain.


To prevent damage to the environment, the following items should be disposed of in the ways recommended:


n  Cotton balls, ladies’ products, bandages, diapers, plastics and dental floss should be disposed of in the garbage along with other household trash.


n  Condoms, tampons and applicators should be wrapped well and disposed of in the trash.


Grease in sewer pipes causes sewer maintenance problems for the 502nd Civil Engineering Group, San Antonio Water System and the San Antonio River Authority across Joint Base San Antonio.


Grease is a byproduct of cooking. It comes from meat, lard, oil, shortening, butter, margarine, food scraps, baking goods, sauces and dairy products. Never pour grease in your sink drain and try to use your garbage disposal less.


When grease washes down the sink, it sticks to the insides of the pipes that connect your home or place of work to the sanitary sewer. It also coats the insides of sanitary sewer pipes which flow to the applicable on or off-base wastewater treatment plant.


Eventually, the grease can build up until it completely blocks sewer pipes. That can create difficult and expensive maintenance problems. Blocked sewer pipes can cause raw sewage to back up into your home or place of work, or overflow into streets and streams.


Garbage disposals don’t keep grease out of sewer pipes. Products that claim to dissolve grease may dislodge a blockage, but will only cause problems farther on down the line when the grease hardens again.


Reducing fats, oils and grease going down your kitchen sink prevents sewer problems.


There are some simple rules to help avoid expensive sewer backups, plumbing emergencies, while helping protect water quality in your community.


·                     Do recycle used cooking oil or properly dispose of it by pouring it into a sealable container and placing the sealed container in the trash.

·                     Do scrape food scraps into the trash, not the sink.

·                     Do wipe pots, pans, and dishes with dry paper towels before rinsing or washing them. Then throw away the paper towels.

·                     Do 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.

·                     Do rinse dishes and pans with cold water before putting them in the dishwasher. Hot water melts the grease off the dishes and into the sewer pipes. Later on in the sewer, the hot water will cool and the grease will clog the pipes.

·                     Don’t use a garbage disposal or food grinder. Grinding food up before rinsing it down the drain does not remove grease; it just makes the pieces smaller. Even non-greasy food scraps can plug your home’s sewer lines. Don’t put food of any kind down the drain.

·                     Don’t pour cooking oil, pan drippings, bacon grease, salad dressings or sauces down the sink or toilet, or into street gutters or storm drains.

·                     Don’t use cloth towels or rags to scrape plates or clean greasy or oily dishware. When you wash them, the grease will end up in the sewer.

·                     Don’t run water over dishes, pans, fryers and griddles to wash oil and grease down the drain.