In May of 2021, Birmingham drains hit the headlines for a pretty unpleasant reason.
A giant fatberg measuring a staggering 1km long and more than a meter high was blocking a sewer in Hodge Hill. It’s estimated that the fatberg weighed about 300 tonnes, and National news outlets dubbed it a “monster”. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in the mother of all blocked pipes in Birmingham. Furthermore, it resulted in all sorts of grief for the council, the water company and the city.
What is a fatberg and how did it cause drainage issues in Birmingham?
A fatberg is a gunky mess made up of unflushable items and solidified fat and grease. These can build up to the point they effectively block certain sewer inlets entirely. This means that, much like domestic drainage issues, it can result in a backup of sewage through the drainage system. Resultingly, sewer inlets can become totally blocked. So, much like with domestic drainage issues, a backup of sewage can occur. The water and waste in pipes need to go somewhere – and when it comes to sewage, we don’t really want it anywhere but the sewer.
Fatbergs are to sewers what icebergs were to the Titanic – enough to bring an entire drainage system down. And the problem can take months to resolve. The epic fatberg in Birmingham was eventually cleared in June. It took multiple teams from various drainage companies in Birmingham to work around the clock using powerful jets to break down the mass.
Where do fatbergs come from?
Almost 90% of the mass of the giant fatberg that caused the blockage in Birmingham was made up of cooking oil. Therefore, when we warn you about how disposing of cooking oil and animal fats down the sink can block pipes and drains, we’re serious. And it isn’t just your own pipes that can become blocked with fatty deposits. This is because when fat makes it into the sewer system, these blockages can soon add up to a massive problem for the entire city.
How to avoid contributing to fatbergs and sewer blockages in Birmingham
The best way to avoid contributing to blocking Birmingham drains is by disposing of cooking fat responsibly. So, always leave leftover cooking fat to cool then dispose of it in containers in the bin.
Only flush the “three Ps” – that’s pee, poo and (toilet)paper – down your toilet. That means reserve sanitary protection, nappies, wet wipes and other toiletries for the bin.
Treat your own drains and the sewer system with respect, and it will pay dividends. Both for your own pipes and the drainage system as a whole. Flushing baby wipes and fat will eventually result in blocked drains either for you, your neighbours or the city. Doing so risks potential damage to pipes and property.
If you’ve been abusing your drains, don’t worry. It’s not too late to change your ways. Let us help you put it right by clearing them with our professional drain cleaning services in Birmingham and the Midlands. Call us on 0121 663 1060.