By Angelo Anastasiou, Junior Drainage Manager
Fatbergs – masses of congealed fat, oil, wet wipes and other unspeakable horrors – have achieved notoriety this year as they plague the nation’s sewers.
From Cardiff, to Belfast, to London, there have been several high-profile examples of the unpleasant blockages that the detritus we flush down toilets and plugholes can cause.
In fact, one 130-tonne monster of a fatberg found in the sewers under London’s Whitechapel achieved an odd sort of celebrity status when a slice of it, in all its gory glory, was displayed at the Museum of London, becoming one of its most popular exhibits.
They’re the mess that everyone helps create, but that very few have the will or the expertise to clear up.
And it’s not just fatbergs in sewers that can be a problem. All sorts of drainage issues can be caused within buildings as a result of paper towels, wipes, fat, oil, grease and debris finding their way into the system. And it can be very difficult to shift.
It’s not a job that just anyone can do, which is why if you have a drainage problem, you need a company that has the right equipment and experience and knows how to tackle the challenge of remedying it efficiently.
Companies with specialist divisions are few and far between. That’s why we developed our own drainage division which we have built up steadily as clients have come to recognise our expertise in the field.
Such is the scale of the problem that our clients face, that we’ve made a significant investment over the past 12 months to add to our arsenal of tools.
In fact, we have spent around £50,000 on things like a new high-pressure jet machine that can blast away obstructions at pressures of up to 10,000 PSI, as well as descaling equipment which helps our engineers tackle difficult blockages more easily.
Currently we have three fully equipped drainage vans with experienced engineers and within the next 12 months and we plan to double in size.
A truly specialist draining company also needs to be able to employ sophisticated technology like CCTV to diagnose the problem and have the capability to remove and install pipework.
And beyond the ability to remove blockages, it is also important that drainage firms can handle tasks like lining and patching work, degreasing, manhole replacements, pump chamber pit cleaning, WC works, and even fixing burst water mains.
Fatbergs are a stubborn problem and are likely to keep hitting the headlines for some time to come. Consumers need to play their part in understanding that there are many items they currently flush – those wipes and paper towels – that should be binned instead.
In the meantime, while drainage issues are undoubtedly unpleasant problem to have, there are fortunately experts who can deal with them, so long as they have the right tools at their disposal.