FOG is an acronym for fats, oils, and grease. It is used in reference to your plumbing and any type of fatty things that are put down the drain, including liquid fats like cooking oil as well as more solid fats such as from animals. It can also be used in reference to non-food greases, such as lubricating oils.

Common FOG Damages

FOG collects inside your plumbing system. All fats and oils are liquid at high temperatures, which means you may wash them down a drain without thinking about it. Unfortunately, once they get into the drain, they are met with cold pipe walls and sometimes even colder water. This solidifies the FOG onto the pipe walls. When other debris comes down the pipe, like food particles, hair, and other residue, it becomes trapped in the FOG layer developing on the pipe walls.

This collection of FOG and debris creates blockages in your drain pipes. Sometimes the issue is only a minor clog or backup, while in other cases a severe backup can lead to leaking pipes. FOG can also damage inline drain appliances, like a garbage disposal, by gumming up its insides. Further, FOG buildup often leads to foul odors escaping from the drain.

Extenuating Circumstances

Certain issues with your plumbing system can lead to greater FOG buildup in the pipes. Roots that have invaded the drain pipe, for example, will trap more debris along with FOG, leading to larger and quicker building clogs. The same is true if there is any damage to the main drain line, such as rough areas from corrosion or narrower spots where the pipe has begun to collapse.

FOG-related clogs are also more likely if more residue is flushed down drains in additions to the fats and grease. For example, items like sanitary wipes, feminine hygiene products, or large amounts of food will lead to faster-developing clogs when combined with greasy pipe walls.

Repair and Prevention

Once FOG buildup occurs, the only repair possible is to clean it out. Water jet drain cleaning works best because the high pressure streams of water completely blast away the FOG and any collected residue. It also clears out problems like tree roots. If pipe damage, like line leaks, has occurred, you may also need to have a leak repair.

Prevention and maintenance includes a schedule of annual drain cleaning to remove any residue before it becomes severe enough to cause issues. It's also necessary to limit the amount of fats, oils, and greases that are poured down the drain.

Contact a drain maintenance service if you suspect FOG issues with your plumbing.