Sewer systems are essential to protecting public health and the environment, and we’re all responsible for keeping them in working order. Here are some tips to keep your home’s drains—and the regional sewer system—flowing smoothly:
Don’t Pour FOG (fat, oil, and grease) Down the Drain
FOG is the primary cause of most sanitary sewer blockages. Cooking grease, along with butter, milk, ice cream and other oily, fatty substances build up along pipe walls, restricting the flow of wastewater. When a blockage forms, wastewater (i.e. sewage) can back up into your house or onto your street. These backups can cause costly property damage and threaten public health and the environment.
Instead of pouring FOG down the drain, you should:
- Pour used cooking grease into a heat-safe container, such as an empty coffee can, and store it in the refrigerator. Once the grease has hardened, seal the top and place the can in the trash.
- Wipe greasy pots, dishes and utensils with a paper towel before washing.
- Keep food scraps OUT of the garbage disposal. Instead, catch them in the sink with a strainer and place them in the trash or compost bin.
- Mix used cooking grease with an absorbent material such as cat litter or coffee grounds, place it in a sealed container and dispose of it in the trash.
Note: Homeowners are required to maintain the lateral from their home to the main sewer line, which is typically located in the street or nearby easement. More information.
Sewer overflows are an emergency. If you ever see sewage bubbling out of a manhole cover or see evidence of a sewer line problem, call us immediately at (818) 251-2100; don’t assume someone else has reported the incident.
Beware of Garbage Disposals
Many sewer problems begin at your garbage disposal. Always remove plastic stickers from fruits and vegetables and place them in the trash. These stickers are notorious for causing clogs in home drains. Also avoid grinding hard materials such as egg shells, coffee grounds and bones, as they can collect and block your drain. Any hard materials that do make it to the wastewater treatment plant can damage costly equipment. Instead, place them in the trash or use them in your garden compost project if you have one.
Don’t Use the Toilet as a Trashcan
Sewer pipes and treatment plants are designed to handle biological wastes and toilet paper. So, avoid flushing cigarette butts, plastics, metals, bandages, dental floss, baby wipes or other personal hygiene items; they can cause clogs and they all belong in the trash. Never pour gasoline, paint, pool chemicals, acetone (found in nail polish remover) or similar items down the drain. They pose hazards to the sewer system and could impede the biological treatment processes at the wastewater treatment plant.
Don’t Flush Drugs Down the Toilet
Prescription or over-the-counter drugs flushed down the drain eventually enter our local water bodies, endangering aquatic life and water quality. Medications contain chemicals that cannot be removed during the water treatment process. In order to minimize the potential negative and irreversible impacts, unused or expired medications should be:
- Taken to Lost Hills Sheriff’s station, 27050 Agoura Rd, for proper disposal. Search additional drug take-back locations near you.
- Placed in a sealable container or bag and then placed in the trash.