H-CENTRAL COAST

Nov 28, 2011 9:26 PM by Ariel Wesler

Keep your kitchen drain happy this holiday season

The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for many of us in the kitchen. That means it's also a busy time for plumbers as they try to fix the mess that some of us pour down our drains.

It's a part of your holiday meal you may never see until it's too late, greasy build up in your plumbing.

"Eighty percent of the pipe can just be full of grease and it's not going anywhere until we can get some equipment in there," said Spokesman Mark van de Kamp with the city of Santa Maria.

During the holiday season, all that excess grease can even back up city sewer lines.

Think of these pipes like your arteries. Over time, fats, grease, and oil can clog them, leaving you with some costly consequences.

"We found that the average bill is around $3000. That's not even including damage to your carpets or to your walls, but basically just to get in there and take care of the pipes," van de Kamp said.

Keith Barks of Barks Plumbing in Santa Maria says using a regular drain cleaner won't cut it. The acid can damage the pipes and you could end up paying more.

"Whoever the plumber is that comes out, it tears up their equipment. The snakes get real brittle," Barks said.

Plumbers say the best thing to do is simply wipe off the grease with a paper towel or put it into a disposable container and throw it away.

"Put it into a coffee can or anything like that, so it can cool down and then put it in the trash," Barks said.

Other common items plumbers say you should not put down the drain include artichokes, melon rinds, and coffee grounds.

Santa Maria has more than 200 miles of sewer pipes. City crews try to inspect about 1500 feet per month to find trouble spots. When they do, they distribute educational door hangers to neighborhoods with heavy grease build up.

The city says it has seen an improvement over the years. In 2007, there were about 20 sewer overflows. So far this year, there have been four.

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