Residential FOG Program
Fat, Oil and Grease Don’t Go Down the Drain
It may seem harmless to pour fat, oil and grease (FOG) down the drain, but FOG can come back to cause some serious problems after it’s had some time to build up.
Your drain doesn’t simply end at your property line. Drains are connected to municipal sewer systems throughout the region. Improperly disposed of FOG can cause problems down the line, not only for you, but for your neighbours as well.
By simply pouring FOG down the drain, it can clog pipes, reduce plumbing flow, create odour and even cause sewer backups. The results can be very costly, including property damage and expensive repair bills ranging from several hundred dollars up to tens of thousands of dollars.
By properly disposing FOG, you’ll help to keep everyone’s sewers healthy and reduce maintenance and repair fees.
There are also environmental considerations. By learning some simple strategies for managing FOG at home, you can help prevent sewer floods in your basement or pollution in our streams and rivers.
Contain It, Don’t Drain It
There are a number of things you can do to help reduce the impacts of FOG on your pipes and the municipal sewer system.
Keep a can handy: Keep an empty metal can in your kitchen and pour oil and grease into the can. Allow it to cool in the container before throwing it in the trash.
Wipe before washing: For greasy pans, pour off the grease into a container mentioned above, and use a paper towel to wipe out the remaining grease in the pan prior to washing.
Seal the oil: Mix FOG with an absorbent material such as cat litter or coffee grounds in a sealable container before throwing it in the trash.
Protect your drain: Use sink strainers to prevent food particles from entering your drain.
Strain your cooking oil: Strain or filter oil in deep fryers to extend the life of the cooking oil.
Dispelling the Myths: Bleach, Detergents and Enzymes
FOG in liquid form may not seem harmful, but when poured down the drain, it mixes with food and other sanitary waste, then congeals and hardens in sewer pipes that connect throughout the community. As this FOG builds up, sewer pipes can be partly or totally blocked, creating a number of problems such as sewer backups and flooding.
Bleach and Detergent
There is a common myth that hot water and bleach or detergent will clear FOG from pipes and sewer lines. Actually, this will have little or no impact once they are diluted in the sewer network. The FOG problem isn’t eliminated. It’s just moved a little further down the line.
The other consideration is that bleach is a powerful, toxic substance that should never be poured down the drain. Bleach can react with other substances and further clog your system. It’s also not very environmentally friendly.
It is also a common myth that enzymes will break down FOG and clear pipes and sewer lines. Unfortunately, this is not entirely accurate.
Many municipalities ban the use of enzymes as they only get the FOG a short distance further down the line until it reaches municipal sewer systems. At this point FOG becomes a burden on tax dollars for repair and service.
In the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, the use of enzymes is discouraged as it is not a replacement for proper FOG disposal and management.
Household Hazardous Waste
Household hazardous waste such as paints, chemicals, degreasers and fuels should never be poured down the drain. They can be dropped off at the municipal landfill free of charge. You can also take your household hazardous waste to the annual roundup events usually held in September. Find out more about household hazardous waste.
Residential FOG FAQ
Why is FOG a problem?
When FOG is poured down the drain, it builds up over time and creates blockages in residential pipes and municipal sewer systems. These blockages can result in backups, costly repairs, or even property damage. It’s not just your home that could be affected. Your neighbours and community could be affected too as FOG makes its way further down your drain and into the municipal sewer system. At this point, the problem is shared among taxpayers as repairs and maintenance is paid for through tax dollars.
Can I pour FOG down the drain?
FOG should never be poured down the drain. The Municipality’s Sanitary Sewer Bylaw – currently under review – regulates the types and amounts of materials that are permitted to be poured into sanitary sewer systems. Fat, oil and grease are regulated under the bylaw, and those found contravening the bylaw could be fined.
Can I just dump FOG into the toilet?
No. Wastewater from every toilet, shower, kitchen sink, dishwasher or bathtub is connected to a single sewer pipe from your residence. All wastewater ends up in the same sewer pipe.
Can’t I just use hot water and detergent to get rid of FOG?
There is a common myth that hot water or detergent will clear FOG from pipes and sewer lines. While there may be some impact on clearing FOG from pipelines under the kitchen sink, hot water or detergent will have little or no impact once they are diluted in the sewer network.
Can I pour enzymes down my drain to get rid of FOG?
There is a common myth that enzymes will clear FOG from pipes and sewer lines. While there may be some impact on clearing FOG from pipelines under the kitchen sink, enzymes have little or no impact once they are diluted in the sewer network.What happens if my sewer pipes become blocked?
Sewer blockages can happen on either the homeowner’s property or along Municipal property. Responsibility for the repair will depend on the location of the blockage. Residents are responsible for blocked pipes within their property lines.
To determine the location of a suspected blockage, residents can call the Underground Services Department during regular business hours at 780-799-5823, or after hours at the Pulse Call Line at 780-743-7000.
Is it against the law to pour FOG down the drain?
Yes, however the Municipality’s focus is to inform and educate residents and business owners rather than fine those that are in contravention of the bylaw. The Municipality’s Sanitary Sewer Bylaw – currently under review – regulates what may go down the drain and in what concentration limits.
Residents are discouraged from pouring any FOG down the drain. By incorporating a few simple processes into your routine, you’ll be helping to prevent a problem that is felt across the entire community.
What else should NOT go down the drain?
In addition to FOG, a number of things should not go down the drain. The following list provides an idea of potentially hazardous items that should never go down the drain.
- Coffee grounds
- Produce stickers
- Cat litter
- Paper towels
- Flushable wipes
- Cotton balls
- Car fluids
- FOG Inquiries – call 780-791-0326 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Environmental Services – Sewer backup – 780-799-5823
- Sewer line locates – 780-799-5823
- Planning and Development (a Plumbing Permit is needed for any plumbing alterations) email@example.com or call 780-799-8695
- PULSE Call Line – 780-743-7000 (evenings, weekends and holidays)