A Guide on Fatbergs


Fatbergs have become a significant problem in modern drainage systems. These massive clumps of congealed fat, oil, grease, and non-biodegradable items can block sewers, causing extensive damage and requiring costly repairs. Understanding what fatbergs are, how they form, and how to prevent them is crucial for maintaining efficient drainage systems. In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about fatbergs.

What Are Fatbergs?

Fatbergs are large, solid masses that form in sewers and drains. They are composed primarily of fats, oils, and greases (FOGs) that are washed down sinks and drains, as well as non-biodegradable items such as wet wipes, sanitary products, and other personal hygiene items. Over time, these materials accumulate and solidify, creating blockages that can span several metres.

Fatbergs can cause severe issues for drainage systems. They restrict the flow of wastewater, leading to backups, overflows, and even flooding. Removing fatbergs requires specialised equipment and significant effort, often resulting in high costs for local authorities and property owners.

How Do Fatbergs Form?

Fatbergs form when fats, oils, and greases (FOGs) are disposed of in kitchen sinks and drains. When these substances enter the sewer system, they cool and solidify, sticking to the walls of the pipes. Over time, other materials such as wet wipes, nappies, and sanitary products become trapped in the congealed fats, adding to the mass and causing it to grow.

The combination of these materials creates a dense, solid mass that is resistant to water flow and can expand rapidly. As more waste accumulates, the fatberg becomes larger and more problematic, eventually leading to significant blockages.

The Impact of Fatbergs on Drainage Systems

Fatbergs have a profound impact on drainage systems. They can cause blockages that lead to sewage overflows, which cause health hazards and environmental risks. Fatbergs also increase the risk of sewer pipe damage, resulting in expensive repairs and maintenance.

Moreover, fatbergs contribute to higher operational costs for wastewater treatment facilities. These facilities must invest in specialised equipment and labour to remove fatbergs and prevent further blockages. This additional expense is often passed on to consumers in the form of higher water and sewage bills (like you).

Famous Fatbergs

Several notable fatbergs have made headlines around the world, highlighting the severity of the problem. One of the most infamous is the Whitechapel fatberg discovered in London in 2017. This blockage weighed an estimated 130 tonnes and stretched over 250 metres. It took a team of workers several weeks to remove it using high-powered jet hoses and manual labour. The last remaining section is on display in a London museum.

In the United States, a significant fatberg was discovered in Baltimore in 2017. Weighing approximately 400,000 pounds, this fatberg caused substantial damage to the city’s sewer system, leading to extensive and costly repairs. It seems like 2017 was the year of the fatberg!

How to Prevent Fatbergs

Preventing fatbergs requires a collective effort from both individuals and businesses. Here are some effective strategies to reduce the risk of fatberg forming:

  1. Proper Disposal of Fats, Oils, and Greases: Never pour FOGs down the sink or drain. Instead, collect them in a container and dispose of them in the bin.
  2. Use of Sink Strainers: Install sink strainers to catch food particles and other debris before they enter the drainage system.
  3. Avoid Flushing Non-Biodegradable Items: Do not flush wet wipes, nappies, sanitary products, or any other non-biodegradable items down the toilet.
  4. Regular Maintenance: Schedule regular drain maintenance and inspections of your drainage system to identify and address potential blockages before they become severe.

The Role of Drainage Companies in Tackling Fatbergs

Professional drainage companies play a crucial role in tackling fatbergs. They have the expertise, equipment, and technology to remove fatbergs efficiently and prevent future blockages. Services such as CCTV drain surveys, high-pressure water jetting, and routine maintenance can help keep drainage systems clear and functional.

Drainage companies also provide valuable advice and guidance on proper waste disposal practices, helping individuals and businesses reduce their contribution to fatberg formation. By working with a reputable drainage company, you can ensure your drainage system remains in top condition and avoid the costly consequences of fatbergs.


Fatbergs are a growing problem that requires immediate attention and action. By understanding how fatbergs form, their impact on drainage systems, and how to prevent them, we can work together to keep our sewers and drains clear. For professional assistance with drainage maintenance and fatberg removal, Maintain Drains is here to help. Our experienced team offers comprehensive services to address all your drainage needs. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help keep your drainage system running smoothly and efficiently.


What are fatbergs, and why are they a concern for drainage systems?

Fatbergs are large masses of congealed fat, oils, grease, and non-biodegradable items such as wet wipes and sanitary products that accumulate in sewers. They pose a significant concern for drainage systems as they can block pipes, causing sewage backups, flooding, and environmental contamination. Fatbergs are challenging to remove and require specialised equipment and resources to prevent them from forming and causing disruptions to sewage networks. Understanding fatbergs and adopting proper disposal practices can help prevent these issues in drainage systems.

What is the biggest fatberg ever found?

One of the most infamous is the Whitechapel fatberg discovered in London in 2017. This blockage weighed an estimated 130 tonnes and stretched over 250 metres.

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