Save The Drains


Huntsville's Drain Problem

Countless amounts of fats, oils and grease are disposed down drains and into the City of Huntsville's sewer system everyday. Over time, these coat the inside of pipes and as they build up, they form into clogs, which then cause contents to backup or overflow. And with the recent rise of flushable wipes, these clogs are forming exponentially faster as the hardened grease also adheres to the non-decomposed wipe. These overflows may result in property damage, foul odors and road closures and their rate of occurrence in Huntsville has been increasing.

Myth #1

Washing grease down with soap & hot water is enough to prevent a clog.


Myth #2

Garbage disposals chop up greasy foods into such small pieces, they won't cause any problems.


Myth #3

Wipes that say they are disposable or flushable can be used as an alternative to toilet paper and disposed of down the drain.



While rinsing with soap and hot water may make your drain shine, it doesn’t eliminate grease from your plumbing system. Just as cholesterol clogs human arteries slowly over time, leading to a heart attack, any grease you’re washing down the drain doesn’t simply disappear – no matter how much soap you chase it with. Eventually, it cools down and the grease separates from the soap and water, coating the inside of your pipes as it hardens. Over time, that coating grows thicker and thicker, until one day no water can pass through. Then, it backs up into your home, or, if the clog is further down the line, into your neighbor’s house.



The smaller the pieces, the likelier a clog. Think of it this way: If you’ve got a wide pipe full of golf balls, you can still run water through between them. But pack that pipe with sand, and you’ve got yourself a clogged pipe. When you chop greasy food into small pieces with a garbage disposal, the food will decompose more quickly, releasing grease faster to coat the inside of your pipes. This is why it’s best to throw fatty foods into the trash can, pour grease into a can or the trash – never down the drain – and wipe greasy dishes with a paper towel before washing them in the sink or dishwasher.



Although these wipes are designed to be biodegradable and break down when flushed, unfortunately that doesn’t happen fast enough. Many local residents have learned the hard way that they can clog their home’s toilets and plumbing. If they do exit your home’s plumbing and enter the city’s underground sewer system, they mix with household grease, creating large, immoveable clogs that can stop the flow of waste water, clog up pipes, and cause sewers to back up into homes and overflow through manholes into the streets.

Below are some images of line buildups caused by Fats, Oils, Grease and Wipes.


Personal wipes contain plastic fibers which do not break down in the City sewer collection system.  These "rags" eventually intertwine together and form large "rag balls" that impede the flow of sewer through the City collection lines.  The balls of rags eventually get large enough to clog the City collection lines and clog pumps and valves within the sewer system.  Fats, Oils and Grease (F.O.G.) when washed down home and business drains will clump together when the oils begin to cool down.  They eventually will begin to adhere to pipe joints and other irregular surfaces and ultimately restrict or completely block flow causing sanitary sewer overflows.  When F.O.G. and wipes combine with each other in the City collection system, it creates the perfect environment for catastrophic sewer overflows.  This can cause sewer to spill into the streets, right of ways, and sometimes back up into people's homes.  F.O.G. and wipes account for the bulk of sewer back ups within the City sewer lines which costs citizens thousands of tax dollars every year.  So, before you rinse the grease from your dishes down the drain, or flush that personal wipe down the toilet, please think about the pictures you just looked at and find another way to dispose of these troublesome items.  Your drains and your Public Works Department will thank you!

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