At PlumbPRO Services, we get plenty of calls for home plumbing issues in Ambler. One of the most common is the blocked sink, and the usual culprit is grease.
Grease winds up in the sink in many ways, including:
- Straining foods into the drain
- Washing dishes
- Using the garbage disposal
Some grease is washed away with hot water, but even if most of it isn’t immediately visible, you can bet there’s residual grease in your plumbing.
Here we’ll talk about dealing with grease, cleaning it out of your sink, and preventing grease from blocking drains.
Apart from a physical visual buildup of grease, there are signs to alert you to its presence. Some of the most common symptoms of a grease buildup include:
- Bad odors coming from the drain
- Poor drainage
- A full blockage where water won’t drain from the sink
- Gurgling sounds coming up from the drain
If the blockage is bad, you might notice grease coming up through the washer sink in the basement. This is because many of the pipes in your home are attached. Grease washes down the kitchen sink and sticks to the inside of pipes on the way down.
When the buildup forms a clog, it’s not always in the kitchen. It might be further down the line, and this is usually into the basement plumbing.
At this point, you might be tempted to pour an instant plumber mix down your washer sink. Don’t! It won’t fix the clog, as it’s likely somewhere between the kitchen and basement sink.
If you catch the grease issue early enough, you may be able to tackle the pipe clearing yourself by cleaning your sink. The best way to begin is by boiling the kettle or a pot of water. The steaming hot water will help dissolve solidified fat solids in the sink, loosening grease from the pipes.
After this, you can add a natural cleaning agent to the mix. We recommend vinegar and baking soda. Do you remember those elementary school science fair volcanos? Here’s where your early chemistry knowledge comes in handy.
Sprinkle two tablespoons of baking soda into your sink drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. This will create a chemical reaction and natural fizz. The bubbling helps further break down fat solids so they can be flushed away. Try the boiling water trick again to melt away any residual grease.
If the sink is physically clogged and this trick isn’t working, try a plunger. The plunger will force air into the pipe and push and pull at grease until air can cut through. If none of these measures work, it’s time to call a plumber.
The best way to keep grease blockages from occurring is to avoid putting grease into your sink in the first place. Of course, this isn’t always feasible, especially when washing dishes. You can, however, limit the amount of grease by:
- Thoroughly scraping food into the compost bin
- Pouring bacon grease into a tin or container to dispose of later
- Scooping grease out of pots and pans before washing them
You can soak up some of the excess grease left in pots, after straining, with a paper towel.
Never pour used cooking oil:
- Down the sink
- Into the toilet
- Outside on the ground
All these methods of disposal eventually lead to clogged pipes.
We often get the question, “Why does grease clog pipes if it’s liquid?” The answer isn’t so simple. For starters, some grease is liquid, yes, but other oils solidify when cool. Oil also sticks to the inside of your pipes.
Over time, more grease sticks to the old grease and begins to build up. If the fatty compounds are left for any length of time, they begin to harden and create a thick crust. This blocks your pipes and can lead to damage.
If you’re noticing your kitchen sink isn’t draining as quickly as it used to, it might be a grease issue. Cleaning your sink is a helpful way to prevent and eliminate clogs if you get to them in time. If the grease has begun to harden, you’ll need a professional.
PlumbPRO Services serves homeowners across Ambler. If you need help with your sink, we’re only a phone call away. Call today to schedule a consultation.