What Is a Fatberg?


A fatberg is a term used in relation to sewage and plumbing when a mass of non-biodegradable matter collects and ends up clogging sewer systems. These masses are made of materials like oil, grease or "flushable" wipes that collects, grows and eventually blocks a sewage system or septic tank system. Fatbergs can occur anywhere at any time, so it is important to stay diligent and proactive in your draining and flushing actions.

What is a fatberg doing in your sewer? As items like flushable wipes become more popular, more fatbergs continue to form. The largest and most famous fatberg in the United States was in Baltimore, Maryland in 2017. This fatberg caused scores of sewer pipes around the city to overflow and forced 1.2 million gallons of sewage to flow into Jones Falls.

Where Did the Term Fatberg Come From?

Fatberg is taken from the word iceberg. The first use of this word was in London in 2013 when a 15-ton fatberg roughly the size of a bus was discovered in drains under the city. The term fatberg was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015.

How to Get Rid of a Fatberg

Fatbergs quickly create blockages and sewage overflows that can impact the comfort and cleanliness of your home. Fatberg removal requires powerful equipment and is therefore not a good DIY project. Utility and plumbing professionals know how to get rid of a fatberg with the right tools and equipment. The key is to break down the fatberg into smaller chunks that are easier to remove.

The experts at your local Mr. Rooter are ready to perform plumbing assessments and take care of you plumbing and drain repairs and needs. Trust Mr. Rooter to remove the fatberg or blockage in your drain or sewer.

How to Prevent a Fatberg from Forming

Following some basic precautions will go a long way to prevent your pipes from becoming clogged with congealed fat. Here is a comprehensive list of all items that should not be flushed down your toilet or put down your drain. Considering flushing an item that is not on this list? Don’t! If it is something that can easily be thrown away, utilize the trash to keep your home, drains and plumbing safe.

  • Flushable wipes
  • Wet wipes
  • Diapers
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Tissues
  • Sanitary products
  • Fats, oils, and grease (FOG)
  • Band-Aids
  • Medicine
  • Dental floss
  • Q-tips or cotton balls

Trust Mr. Rooter for Your Plumbing Needs

Are you worried that a fatberg could be in your future? Call your local Mr. Rooter or request a job estimate to proactively take control of your home or businesses plumbing. If you are looking for emergency services, our team is also on standby around the clock to help with your immediate service needs.