Household Users

How to Fight the Grease Menace

Throw it in the trash, not down the drain! You can significantly minimize your plumbing and sewer problems simply by limiting the things you pour down your drain.

The vast majority of sewer problems start as plumbing troubles inside the house. Most sewer problems result from slow drainage in sinks, floor drains, washer drains, or toilets. In severe cases, there may be a complete blockage and with it an expensive and unpleasant cleanup that must be paid for by the homeowner.
Keep Grease Out of Your Drain Billboard

Here are some things you don't want to put down the drain:

  • Never pour grease down sink drains or into toilets! Too often, grease is washed into the plumbing system, usually through the kitchen sink, which will stick to the inside of sewer pipes. Over time, the grease can build up and block the entire pipe. Pour grease into a can (an empty coffee can works great). Keep it in the refrigerator so the grease can solidify and then dispose of it in the trash.
  • If you are deep frying a turkey, Bismarck residents can recycle the used oil at the Public Works Dept. (601 S 26th St) during normal office hours. Be sure the oil is in a tightly capped plastic container.
  • Use your garbage disposal sparingly! Never use your garbage disposal as a substitute for the trash can. Scrape grease and food scraps from trays, plates, pots, pans, utensils, grills and cooking surfaces into a can or the trash for disposal. Be especially careful with pasta, potatoes, and other starchy foods. Starch and water make paste, which can plug pipes. Be even more careful with what goes down the kitchen drain if you don't have a disposal. Put strainers in sink drains to catch food scraps and other solids, and empty the strainers into the trash for disposal.
  • Never flush baby diapers down the toilet! Even if large objects like this make it to the sewer main (if you're that lucky) they can cause blockages in the sewer main, or plug city pumps.
  • Never plant trees over your sewer service line! Roots are the leading cause of service line blockages. If you have any roots in your sewer service line, the grease, food waste, and large objects just mentioned are even more likely to cause blockages.
  • Never dump kitty litter down the drain! Many of these products contain clay which will narrow the opening of your sewer pipe. Eventually it may plug your sewer pipe.
  • Use sewer pipe cleaning chemicals carefully and sparingly! Follow label instructions closely to avoid dangerous fumes, skin and eye injury, and pipe and fixture damage. Proper care of your home sewer pipes will decrease the need for chemicals. Fats, oils, and greases aren't just bad for your arteries and your waistline; they're bad for sewers, too.

The maintenance of internal plumbing and sewer service lines is the responsibility of the property owner. The City is responsible for maintenance of sewer mains only. If sewage is actually flowing into your home through a floor drain, immediately contact the City at (701) 355-1700 because there may be an obstruction in the sewer main.