Frozen Chips and Other Cambridgeshire Drain Blockages

Anglian Water has revealed that more than 40,000 “avoidable” blockages were removed from the East Anglia sewer network over the past year, at a cost of almost £20 million. The water company said its engineers cleared 40,575 blockages in the space of 12 months, 85% of which were caused by unflushables including fats, oils and grease (FOG), wet wipes and other sanitary products.

The water company also released a list of its ‘Top Ten Sewer Blockages’, which includes Peterborough and Cambridge. Here is the list in all its glory:

Top Ten Sewer Blockages

1.  Yorkshire puddings (Ipswich, Suffolk)

ipswich drain yorkshire puddings

Yorkshire pudding in an Ipswich drain – courtesy of Anglian Water 

2.   Garden sewer flooding (Louth, Lincolnshire)

3.   Frozen chips (Peterborough, Cambridgeshire)

frozen chips blocking drain in peterborough

Frozen chips in a Peterborough drain – courtesy of Anglian Water 

4.   Wet wipes monster (Lowestoft, Suffolk)

5.   Sewer sausage (Cambridge, Cambridgeshire)

6.   Fatberg (Market Harborough, Leicestershire)

7.   Offord D’arcy sewer blockage (Huntingdonshire)

sewer blockage sanitary products

Sanitary items that caused a blockage in Offord D’Arcy – courtesy of Anglian Water 

8.   Houghton Regis blockage (Bedfordshire)

9.   Hockliffe sewer blockage (Bedfordshire)

10. Sewer wet well blockage (Northampton, Northamptonshire)

Rachel Dyson, programme manager of Anglian Water’s Keep It Clear campaign, said: “Wet wipes cause real problems in the sewer network, which can have a devastating impact on our customers’ homes and the wider environment. They are by far the worst culprit, but cotton buds, tampons and fats also cause problems too.

fat and wet wipes drain blockage

Mass of fat and wet wipes in a Cambridgeshire Drain – Courtesy of Anglian Water 

“Almost all of these blockages are entirely preventable, but instead lead to devastating sewage spills, can harm the environment and cost millions of pounds each year to clear. Ultimately this cost is added onto customers’ water bills and would be better spent elsewhere.”

Watch What You Flush

Whether you’re a homeowner or business owner, it’s important to be aware of the items that shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet or poured down the sink. Not only will you be helping the environment, but it could also save your drains from becoming blocked, which can lead to overflows and flooding if not addressed promptly.

With that in mind, here are the products that should be kept well away from the toilet or plughole at all times.

Wet Wipes

According to Water UK, wet wipes are responsible for 93% of sewer blockages in the UK, leading to the formation of massive “fatbergs” in the sewers of numerous towns and cities. Despite some wipes being labelled as ‘flushable’, many still contain plastic and other fibres that can’t be broken down when flushed.

A new Fine to Flush standard has now been introduced, which indicates when a wet wipe is safe to flush. If you can’t see the Fine to Flush logo on a packet of wet wipes, they will need to be disposed of in another way – preferably in the bin.

Sanitary & Medical Products

In addition to wet wipes, sanitary products such as tampons or pads are also regularly (and wrongly) flushed down the toilet. These types of products are designed to be absorbent, so will expand in water rather than breaking down. This can lead to serious problems with your plumbing. Plasters, bandages and tablets should also be disposed of in other ways.

Fat, Oil and Grease (FOG)

It can be easy to assume that fat, oil and grease will disintegrate when poured down a sink. However, these substances don’t take long to collect inside sewers and harden, creating a concrete-like material that blocks the flow of wastewater through pipes. This can lead to overflows of sewage into streets, streams and rivers, posing a risk to public health and the environment.

cambridge FOG drain blockages

Fog blockage of cooking grease, melted butter, fats, oils inside a pipe in Cambridge – courtesy of Anglian Water 

Homeowners are advised to scrape all fats, oils, and grease into a bin or separate container before washing up, while commercial kitchens are legally obliged to install a grease trap, which prevents FOG entering the wastewater system.

Hair

A build-up of hair is one of the most common causes of blockages in the pipes leading from bathrooms. If hair isn’t regularly removed from plugholes, it can amass and prevent water flowing freely through your drains, potentially leading to overflows and flooding further down the line. While it may seem easy to dispose of any loose hair down the toilet, it will just create the same problems, so make sure it always goes in the bin.

Coffee Granules

Many people don’t think twice before throwing leftover coffee granules down the sink. However, because they are not totally water soluble, coffee granules tend to stick together and mix with other substances such as fat, oil and grease, creating stubborn blockages in pipes that can be time-consuming and expensive to remove. The best place for coffee granules is therefore in the bin, or on the compost heap.

Blocked Drains Are Our Business

By following the tips above and regularly cleaning your drains, your pipes should hopefully remain free of blockages. However, problems can often be caused by events out of your control, such as extreme weather.

At Drain Doctor, our technicians are fully trained to deal with the most stubborn of drain blockages and are on hand 24/7 to deal with all plumbing and drainage emergencies, so don’t hesitate to get in touch today.