You probably are aware or at least heard of the problems related to grease traps especially if you are in the foodservice industry. Every commercial kitchen owner knows the threat posed by this equipment. Let us find out these problems, and how to stay away from them.
Grease traps are a necessary part of any commercial kitchen, and it is also required by law. However, the three culprits comprising of fats, oil, and grease commonly referred to as FOG creates a lot of problems when washed down the sink or drain.
It can ruin your drainage system, cause a sewer backup, which is a costly repair, and even cause health issues. It may also create issues at local water treatment facilities. To prevent these problems, a grease trap must be checked regularly.
Grease traps and grease interceptors – What are they?
These two devices are almost the same, they have the same working principle, and produce the same results, but on a different scale. While grease traps have a flow rate of fewer than 50 gallons of water per minute, a grease interceptor has a flow rate of more than 50 gallons per minute.
How a grease trap works
The grease trap has a reservoir tank that holds wastewater. It cools down the warm or hot oily/greasy water and then begins the separation process. Since fats, oil, and grease (FOG) are lighter than water, it rises to the top, allowing the grease trap to collect. The residual water is then allowed to flow down the sewer. It acts as a filter to remove FOG from entering the waste system.
Issues and challenges with grease traps
- Clogging in the crossover line
A grease trap has two compartments. The first compartment helps separate solid and liquid wastes while the second compartment allows the water to be released into the sewer. When there is any obstruction, the water level in the initial compartment will either overflow or exceed the normal limit.
- Clogging in incoming pipe-line
Most of the backup in the plumbing fixture of commercial kitchens is due to this reason.
- Clogging in the outgoing pipe-line
Overflowing in both the compartments will occur when there is an obstruction in the outgoing line. This prevents the wastewater from flowing out of the tank, which eventually diminishes the capacity of the grease trap. This may also bring the entire grease trap unit to a halt.
- A filled grease trap or overflowing grease trap
This usually happens when wastes from the first compartment spill into the second compartment. This will eventually clog the incoming pipeline as well as an outgoing one. To check this problem, just open the lid and dip a pole into the compartment. This will allow you to measure the depth. You will know the grease trap is saturated if the pole touches the bottom.
- Rotten foul smell
A rotten smell is another very common grease trap problem. It is also the worst of it all. Food particles stuck at the bottom of the tank are broken down by microorganisms. In the process, toxic wastes like hydrogen sulfide and sulphuric gases are emitted. This is responsible for producing a foul smell. The rotten smell also enters your kitchen when the seal around the utility hole-cover, which is the opening to the grease trap, is deteriorated, loose or weak. The rotten smell from the grease traps can cause health issues too.
Why you should keep a check on your grease trap at regular intervals
Keeping your grease trap in its best condition not only keeps you away from spending money on costly repairs but also has the following extra benefits.
It minimizes the possibility of:
- Local authorities enforcing action due to violations of ordinances.
- Lawsuits from workers exposed to raw sewage.
- Lawsuits from a nearby business over sewer problems.
How to prevent grease traps related issues
- The most essential task in keeping your grease trap in good condition is by cleaning it regularly. It is always advised to consult the trap’s manufacturer to get started with the cleaning routine.
- Reuse your waste cooking oil, not only will this keep FOG from entering the sink, but will add extra cash to your income. There are many waste cooking oil companies out there who will be pleased to pay you for your used cooking oil.
- Dry wiping your dishware before cleaning them will significantly reduce the amount of FOG entering your grease trap.
- Another way to control grease is by discarding food wastes with other solid waste.
- Get your kitchen staff trained on how to manage FOG. This may not sound as important, but it will help you in the long run.
How to maintain your grease trap
- To avoid undesirable consequences, it is imperative to keep your grease trap on a regular schedule. After all, it is no fun dealing with sewer blockage and backups. Most locations have a law that requires establishments to maintain and clean their grease traps every 90 days, while some states have laws that require the same every 60 days.
- Have a proper installation of your grease trap if you find out that it is very little or no grease accumulation in your grease trap, it is likely that it wasn’t installed correctly.
- Using enzymes and solvents to clean your grease trap is not a good idea. While it may seem convenient at first, it will lead to more significant issues later on. Solvents do not break down FOG, they just separate it from water. This will lead to more and more grease entering the waste system which ultimately leads to clogging. Some cities and states prohibit the use of enzymes and solvents.
- Always hire a professional for installation or maintaining your grease trap. Not only will they get the job done as required, but they are also in compliance with state and federal laws. Sedco plumbing technicians are highly experienced in the installation, maintenance, and repair of grease traps. Highly reputed for consistent quality service and intensive customer care, Sedco Plumbing is recommended by many clients.