Mega-Rod logo

Fatbergs – A Growing Problem

Request a call back from our team
Enter your contact details and we'll call you back

    If someone told you that there are enormous, subterranean monsters called fatbergs growing in UK sewers and wreaking havoc on the country’s wastewater management infrastructure, not to mention the environment, you might think they’d been watching too much Doctor Who. However, water and sewerage companies know all too well that monstrous fatbergs really do lurk in the sewers connecting your property’s drains to regional wastewater treatment plants, as they spend £100 million per year on removing them.

    Fatbergs – giant, greasy blockages that can be hundreds of metres long and weigh well over 100 tonnes – have their origins in what some people pour and flush down domestic and commercial drains on a daily basis. But the good news is that everyone can play a role in winning the war against these sewer ‘monsters’, as we’ll explain.

    Fat and Fibrous Material Set like Concrete

    A key reason why fatbergs have become a major ‘modern-day challenge’, in the Institution of Civil Engineers’ words, is that many people haven’t heard of them and don’t know why they develop. Indeed, research by the ICE has found that ‘nearly 40% of UK adults remain unaware of fatbergs’. As a result, a significant proportion of people are likely to be contributing to the formation of these deeply unpleasant obstructions without realising what a negative effect their actions are having.

    What is a fatberg made from? A fatberg is a combination of cooking oil, fat and grease some people pour down sinks and the fibrous, absorbent items (wet wipes, kitchen roll, nappies, tampons, etc.) they flush down toilets. As Bristol and Bath drain unblocking experts, we know these nuisance substances and rogue items are major causes of blocked drains; the liquids congeal and wipes and other solids stick to them, creating mini fatbergs in your pipes that stop your wastewater flowing freely away from the building. (That’s why cooking oil and all the other culprits should be put in the bin instead.) If these nasties are carried by wastewater from your drains to the sewers, they may well help to create or enlarge vast sewer fatbergs that ‘can set as hard as concrete’, as ITV News points out, and are magnets for rats.

    If your neighbourhood’s sewers get blocked by a fatberg, there’s a serious risk that raw sewage will escape, causing nasty backups in your property, flooding streets and gardens, polluting waterways and harming wildlife. That’s why the UK’s fatberg problem threatens communities – and why we all need to make a concerted effort to overcome it.

    Removing Fatbergs from Sewers Takes Weeks

    As you can imagine, getting rid of a massive, rock-hard fatberg is no easy task. When Channel 4 News investigated fatbergs, they discovered that water companies have three main ways of dislodging and removing these blockages from the pipes. They break up fatbergs with high-pressure water jets (a method similar to our highly effective drain jetting technique, which we use when unblocking drains) or shovels (if the sewer walls are particularly old), before employing suction hoses to remove the pieces. The process can take weeks to complete, plus it’s dangerous for the teams working in the sewers. Fatbergs can release toxic gases, so personal protective equipment and breathing apparatus must be worn. What’s more, if these awful blockages have weakened the pipes’ structure, whole sections of the sewer network will need to be replaced.

    Once the fatberg chunks have been removed from the sewers they’re transported to specialist waste disposal sites. By heating and repeatedly filtering the pieces, it’s possible to separate the oil and grease from the rest and use it to create biodiesel. But that’s the only ray of light in a grim situation.

    Protect Your Drains and Prevent Fatbergs

    Fortunately, fatbergs can be prevented; they aren’t an inevitable consequence of modern life, the widespread consumption of fatty foods or prevalence of non-biodegradable products.

    In fact, there are a couple of simple, practical steps you can take to ensure that you don’t end up adding to any fatbergs in your area:

    • Don’t clog up drains and sewers with liquids that congeal or items that expand when wet. ‘Bin it, don’t block it,’ emphasises the ICE’s anti-fatberg video.
    • If you’ve noticed signs of blocked drains such as standing water, ask our Bristol and Bath drain unblocking specialists to resolve the problem in order to protect your pipework and that of the sewer network.

    We have more than 40 years of experience in swiftly, and successfully unblocking drains for businesses and homeowners, using drain jetting and other methods.

    For commercial and domestic drain unblocking you can rely on in Bath, Bristol and beyond, call Mega-Rod today on 01225 422980.


    Why You Need an Up-to-Date Drainage Plan

    You know your property’s drains are underground, but do you know their exact location? How far down is the pipework? Can you describe the layout of your drainage system? If you’re struggling to answer one or more of those questions, you’re not alone. The Bristol and Bath drains experts here at Mega-Rod help numerous residential […]
    House Drainage plan

    The Difference between Drain Engineers and Plumbers

    Every property owner will encounter a water-related problem (for example, a nasty odour coming from plugholes or a tap that refuses to turn off) from time to time. Whether you’re faced with this kind of issue at home or work, you’ll want prompt assistance from a professional. The question is who should you call? Is […]
    Rubber ducks in a bath with water problems to be fixed by drain engineers or plumbers

    How Heavy Rain Affects Your Drains

    Across England, drains serving homes and businesses are currently under much greater strain than usual due to heavy rain and flooding. When Storm Henk arrived in early January, it unleashed torrential downpours on vast swathes of the country, becoming the eighth major storm in just three months, as BBC News reports. At the time of […]
    heavy rain and flooding affecting drains

    Do You Need a Homebuyer’s Drain Survey?

    When you’re buying a new home, there are numerous important tasks you need to cross off your to-do list, from exchanging contracts to finding a reliable removal company. With so much else to think about, you could well be tempted to adopt an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach to the property’s drainage system […]
    Do you need a Homebuyer’s Drain Survey for your new home?

    Winter Drain Care Advice

    The coldest months – December, January and February – can be a testing time for your property, including your drainage system. This is especially true if you own a period property with ageing drains or your drains were laid in shallow trenches (the minimum depth for a drain is 600mm). However, it must be said […]
    Frozen pipes

    Choosing the Best Drainage Company for Your Home or Business

    The UK drainage industry encompasses hundreds of companies. There’s even a major trade event, the National Drainage Show, which takes place annually in November and showcases drainage specialists’ skills. Many drainage specialists’ day-to-day work involves helping homes and businesses to keep their wastewater flowing freely by providing drain unblocking, CCTV drain surveys and other vital […]

    Fatbergs – A Growing Problem

    If someone told you that there are enormous, subterranean monsters called fatbergs growing in UK sewers and wreaking havoc on the country’s wastewater management infrastructure, not to mention the environment, you might think they’d been watching too much Doctor Who. However, water and sewerage companies know all too well that monstrous fatbergs really do lurk […]
    Fatbergs are giant, greasy blockages found in the sewers and have become a major ‘modern-day challenge’

    Effective Alternatives to Harsh Chemical Drain Cleaners

    Perhaps you’ve noticed signs of blocked drains, such as foul smells or basins emptying slowly. Or perhaps you just want to perform some drain maintenance by cleaning out your drainage system to stop cooking fat or other nasties from creating obstructions in the first place. In these sorts of situations, you may be tempted to […]
    Harsh Chemical Drain Cleaners

    Why Some Homes Have Septic Tanks

    Whereas most homes’ drains are connected to sewers (which carry wastewater to treatment plants such as the Avonmouth water recycling centre in Bristol), some lead to nearby septic tanks instead. These private, underground tanks don’t sound very appealing – ‘septic’ means they contain microorganisms such as bacteria – but they’re hugely important to many homeowners. […]
    Septic Tanks Are Vital in Rural Areas

    The Difference between Drains and Sewers

    When you run a tap, turn on the washing machine or flush the toilet, you probably don’t give a great deal of thought to where the wastewater goes or what ultimately happens to it. Drains and sewers are out of sight and usually out of mind. They’re part of a vital subterranean pipe network serving […]
    running a tap which relies on drains and sewers to carry waste water away
    Request a call back from our team
    Enter your contact details and we'll call you back

      Need your drains unblocking? Septic tank need emptying? Need a CCTV Drain Survey? Contact the experts at Mega-Rod on 01225 422980. We offer a prompt, competitive service from a family firm working in Bath, Bristol and the surrounding area.