The big gross news in plumbing this week is London's "fatberg" (yes, it's a new vocabulary word for me too), a mass of grease, wet wipes, and other grody stuff the size of two elephants that was fished out of a historic sewer in Kensington after residents complained of blockages in the pipes. Actually, "fished" isn't quite the right term: sewer workers had to spend three weeks blasting it with water jets to break it up, and they'll need another six weeks for repairs to the delicate sewer system.
Clogs caused by buildups of masses of fats, oils, grease, and the materials that stick to them are a growing problem in sewers all over the world. In New York City, the Department of Environmental Protection has started cracking down on restaurants, mandating the use of grease traps to snag the worst of the grease before it hits the sewers.
But what about at home? You can help out your friendly neighborhood sewer by pouring off grease into a closed container, wiping out pans before washing, and trashing instead of flushing wet wipes and other personal care items. And if you do end up with a fatberg of your very own, a significantly higher risk in cities with historic sewer systems that aren't quite up to the task of handling modern uses, like the Big Apple...well, it might just be time to call a New York plumber to help you with your drainage problem.