You work hard to keep your restaurant clean, safe and running smoothly every day. With customer relations, managing your staff, overseeing inventory and everything in between, your business likely requires a lot of hard work to maintain. However, issues like an unkempt grease trap can mean the difference between booming business and going out of business if not properly attended to.
Designed to collect grease and other forms of fatty waste to be properly disposed of, your grease trap is crucial to keeping your wastewater disposal system clean. Over time, the grease waste from your building will accumulate in the trap and solidify—without regularly servicing and removing this waste buildup, your business may begin to experience problems that only become more serious without treatment.
While you could clean the grease trap system yourself, making use of a professional grease trap service is often easier, safer and much less of a hassle, especially when you call in the qualified technicians at Ace Grease Service—but before performing routine maintenance on your system, it’s important to know how your grease trap works and why it’s so critical to have it routinely serviced.
It Can Cause Widespread Damage
Grease traps are essentially an interceptor for oil, grease and other similar forms of organic waste. Since fat tends to solidify at room temperature, the grease in your system will slowly form into a solid mass over time, which can easily be removed during maintenance. Allowing the fatty waste to build up for too long, however, can cause your grease trap to overflow and contaminate your water drainage system. Once this happens, the fat will begin accumulating in your water pipes and eventually clog them; this can cause a number of issues with your building’s plumbing, such as damaged pipes, poor drainage, and bacterial growth. In severe cases, an overflowing grease trap may even contaminate and cause backup in the city’s main sewage system—once this is traced back to your restaurant, you’ll likely incur serious fines from the city. The safest and most effective way to combat this is to take preventative measures and call a grease trap service to clean your system before it becomes a problem.
It Harbors Bacteria and Toxins
Because they hold tremendous amounts of stagnant food waste, grease traps produce an environment that’s ideal for the growth of harmful bacteria; not only is this highly unsanitary, but it also tends to leave your grease trap with an unpleasant smell. As if a bacterial breeding ground on your property weren’t problematic enough, the situation may become dangerous if water contaminates the grease trap—once water combines with the bacteria and liquid fat in your system, it can fester and develop into toxic sulfuric acid. This powerful acid is strong enough to eat through the concrete and steel that make up your grease trap’s foundation and leaves your building with a terrible odor. Using a grease trap service, however, eliminates these risks from your business.
It Can Be Harmful to the Environment
Once your system is backed up, it can produce grease runoff that is awful for the natural environment. This can be especially severe if your grease trap clogs the city’s pipelines and sewer, as the grease may leak into the area around your building and cause multiple issues such as:
- Damage to the natural environment. The grease runoff may drain into the grass, where it can pollute the soil and have a hugely negative impact on the natural world. Buildings situated in hilly areas risk affecting an even larger area once the grease drains downhill.
- Further contamination. Your grease trap’s fatty waste can also overflow into other parts of your property, such as the parking lot. This unsightly grease buildup produces an unmistakable stench and can clog city storm drains, further increasing the risk of affecting the city’s waterways.
- Harming local wildlife. On top of damaging any natural vegetation, overflowing grease can easily damage animal habitats and throw the local ecosystem out of balance. If you have an outdoor grease trap and leave it uncovered, you’re presenting a huge threat to animals that may accidentally fall into your system and become trapped.
- Inviting pests. Some insects, like drain flies, breed in gelatinous fats like those inside a grease trap. When your system backs up, that fat remains stagnant and invites drain flies into your restaurant—though they are not particularly harmful, they are unsightly, unsanitary and can easily make their way into other parts of the building.
It Violates Health Code Laws
For virtually every food service business across the country, health inspectors will conduct regular examinations of your facility and test whether or not you have any liquid waste or sewage discharging into other bodies of water. These tests extend to both your grease trap and drain outflow, to ensure that there isn’t any backflow or cross contamination between the two. Without using a grease trap service prior to this, the inspector will be able to detect oil in your plumbing, and the resulting health code penalties can temporarily set your business back. You may face serious fines, suspension of operation, or even temporary loss of your operating license if the problem is not addressed.
It Can Be Bad for Business
Plumbing issues, damage to your building and the environment and health code penalties are difficult enough on their own, but perhaps the most troubling threat an unkempt grease trap is that which it poses to your bottom line: all of these issues may come together and create an environment that is bad for business. Having an uncleaned grease trap in your kitchen is something that is highly noticeable to your customers—the odor is nearly unmistakable, especially so if sulfuric acid occurs in your grease trap. If grease runoff builds up in your parking lot, it can produce a repulsive and unsightly environment that your guests will not want to set foot in. If your backup causes issues for the city’s septic system and the problem is traced back to your location, people will notice and respond accordingly by taking their business elsewhere. What’s more, a downgrade in your health code score after an unsatisfactory inspection can also turn customers away. You wouldn’t want to dine in an environment that wasn’t perfectly sanitary, so why would your customers? By not using a grease trap service to maintain your equipment, you’re setting yourself up for a number of setbacks that could ultimately ruin the business you’ve worked so hard to build.
Calling in the Professionals
It’s easy to see why using a grease trap service is one of the smartest preventative measures you can take for your restaurant, but if you want to take this precaution a step further, using a professional service is the way to go. That’s where Ace Grease Service comes in! Ace is committed to providing your business with a variety of services that go above and beyond a simple grease trap cleaning—in fact, Ace will work with you to develop a standard maintenance schedule for your unit that is custom built to fit your needs. When any of Ace’s highly qualified technicians service your equipment, they take the time and care to make sure it’s up to local, state and federal government regulations alike; Ace also provides proof-of-cleaning reports within 24 hours of service and in digital format, making them readily available for government inspections.
Ace Grease Service offers more than grease trap service, too—the company also installs grease trap systems, perform inspections and repairs to your equipment as needed, and even provides used oil removal services that are completely free to you! Whether you choose to drain your used oil into one of Ace’s super durable waste containers or simply call in a professional technician, Ace will pay you top dollar for your used oil. Once it’s been collected, you can rest assured that the oil will be safely recycled.
Making the Right Choice
Keeping your business alive and booming is arguably one of the most difficult jobs you as a restauranteur may ever face. With so many different aspects to keep tabs on, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and neglect certain areas that may not appear to be as prevalent as others—in short, it’s easy to put off using a grease trap service. Dealing with the resulting consequences, however, is not.
That’s why Ace Grease Service is here to help. Performing over 200 grease trap repairs each year, the specialists at Ace are seasoned veterans in their field, dedicated to providing you with the highest quality of service possible. Whether you’re having a grease trap installed, cleaned or recycling your used cooking oil, Ace will provide you with a detailed work plan that keeps you fully informed throughout every step of the process. With a 24-hour emergency service hotline, Ace is always available if something goes wrong with your system.
Don’t wait for your unkempt grease trap to have a negative impact on your restaurant—make sure you have your system regularly serviced, preferably by a professional.
Best Ways To Simplify Grease Management
The managing of a commercial kitchen, whether for a restaurant, hospital, school or some other entity, requires a lot of knowledge, some of it even a bit arcane. Topics related to food storage, employee management, temperature control, and cleanliness all demand one’s attention. One area that managers might never have imagined delving into is the nitty-gritty of grease management, particularly grease trap service. Nonetheless, this is an area that has large repercussions on the safe, economical and efficient operation of a kitchen. In short, failure to address this area can lead to a big mess, in more ways than one.
What Is FOG?
The acronym FOG is one that every restaurant manager should be familiar with. FOG stands for fats, oils, and grease. These substances will always be present in and around a kitchen. Handling them properly is a big deal. FOG must be kept out of sanitary sewer systems, or for that matter a septic system, for environmental and public health reasons. A grease trap is a fundamental necessity for commercial kitchens, and grease trap service is essential to keep this device operating as it should.
There are several ways FOG gets into the plumbing system. These are some of the common avenues for entry:
- Kitchen sinks and drains
- Dishwashing machines
- Food disposal units
- Floor drains
Each entry point should be monitored for the introduction of grease. A grease trap should be present along each of these potential entry points.
What Is a Grease Trap?
As the name would imply, a grease trap is a container that is used to trap or intercept grease. It is sometimes referred to as an interceptor. Its purpose is to prevent grease originating in a kitchen from going into either a septic system or a municipal sewer system. It works by blocking grease and oils from passing all the way through the plumbing system. The grease floats to the top of the container where it can be removed. The grease-free water is then able to continue on to the sewer system without causing harm.
Numerous types of grease traps exist, and they can be located in a number of different areas. Some are located inside, in the normal plumbing system of outflowing pipes. Other traps are located outside. There are also numerous sizes. Some grease traps are large holding tanks constructed of concrete. Other traps are constructed of plastic or steel. The average size for an exterior grease trap is about 1,000-gallon capacity. All traps require periodic grease trap service.
What Size Grease Trap Is Needed?
For most kitchens, the size of a grease trap is determined by the size of the kitchen and how many meals are served each day. In general, the larger the kitchen, the larger the grease trap, as this implies more FOG will enter the plumbing system. Some municipalities have regulations that require a particular size grease trap based on expected activity. Employees for the municipality will inform businesses of these regulations. It’s important to remain in compliance as noncompliance can result in financial penalties and could even shut a business down. Professional plumbers or a trap manufacturer are also good resources to consult when installing a new grease trap. They can also inform companies on issues related to grease trap service.
What Are the Benefits of Regular Service?
Servicing of a grease trap is essential, as is finding a qualified company to provide all of the elements needed for full service. Ace Grease Service repairs over 200 grease traps each year. They have a trained team of professionals that have the know-how to get a grease trap back in working condition again. This is the surest way to minimize any problems with grease traps clogging up. The benefits of working closely with a reputable repair company include the following:
- Expert advice on when repairs might be needed
- Regular visits and preventative maintenance
- Advice on which grease trap is best for a business
- The ability to service companies large and small
- Worry-free compliance with municipal regulations
- Repairs and replacements of all elements associated with grease traps
A properly working grease trap keeps fats, oils, and grease out of the environment. It protects the integrity of municipal and country septic systems. It keeps a business strong by making sure it is not shut down for noncompliance of environmental regulations. Failure of a company to properly manage FOG can result in severe penalties. Grease trap service by a professional company such as Ace Grease Service provides a long list of benefits.
What Are the Best Practices for Managing FOG?
A restaurant or other company that produces FOG can do many things to efficiently manage its disposal of fats, oils, and grease. Close attention to the following procedures will minimize problems:
- Practice Proper Disposal – Workers should never dispose of grease directly down a kitchen drain. When possible, all oils should be recycled.
- Use Cold Water – When rinsing plates, cold water should be used because it helps grease solidify and allow the trap to more effectively retain solids.
- Get the Proper Size Grease Trap – A grease trap that is too small will be inefficient, while one that is too large can allow materials to collect and become smelly.
- Use the Trash – Employees should scrape as much food into the trash as possible as this reduces the amount of FOG going into the plumbing system and into the grease trap; a kitchen disposal is hooked to the grease trap so its use should be limited.
- Minimize Chlorine Products – The introduction of chlorine, enzymes, chemicals or bleach into the plumbing can destroy beneficial bacteria in the trap, as well as liquefy the FOG and sludge, reducing the effectiveness of the grease trap; only bio-degradable detergents should be used.
Grease trap service should be performed regularly, through a company that has trained technicians such as Ace Grease Service. A reputable company will be aware of all local regulations and will know the best way to treat issues. The company will be able to dispose of all materials responsibly.
Can a Company Be Fined for Poor Grease Management?
A company that generates FOG is responsible for properly disposing of everything it produces. This concept is known as cradle-to-grave and essentially means that the producer of fats, oils, and grease must take care of these substances. Municipalities may issue sizable fines for releasing harmful materials into the environment. Fines may be as small as a couple of thousand dollars or be as large as $50,000 per day. Fog can harm sewer systems, foil water supplies and impact the health of wild creatures.
Government agencies may require proof that a company’s grease trap is functional and appropriate to its business model. After a grease trap service call, Ace Grease Services generates a report to all of its customers. This report shows that service was completed, details the condition of the grease trap and also recommends further action if necessary. This is a simple way for a company to show compliance with local, state and federal regulations.
How Does Installation and Replacement of a Grease Trap Work?
When it comes to the installation of a grease trap, there are several things a company must consider. The first is who will do the installation. An experienced company with grease trap know-how is a smart choice. A general plumbing contractor may not have the experience and expertise to deal with this specific type of job. Second, what is the proper size of the grease trap given the amount of FOG likely to be generated? An experienced contractor will be able to determine the right grease trap for each kitchen. Third, can the installation be completed quickly? A new business may be in a hurry to get underway, and an established restaurant will want to resume operations.
Eventually, a grease trap may need to be replaced or upgraded. The need for this might be discovered on a regular inspection, or might be part of a company’s expansion. It’s also possible that a less costly repair could take care of the situation. Working with a company with knowledge of grease traps helps ensure that the best decision has been made.
What Are the Takeaways for Effective Grease Management?
The management of FOG is an important part of running a commercial or industrial kitchen. A properly installed, well-maintained grease trap is one of the focal points of this aspect of a business. So too is partnering with a contractor that understands all of the factors of grease management. These factors include compliance with all local, state and federal regulations, as well as the possibility of incurring substantial fines. Also, following best practices to minimize the amount of grease that goes into the plumbing system, and making sure the right cleaning products are used, will help limit problems. Regular grease trap service is an essential part of maintaining a thriving kitchen environment. It will limit costs and reduce exposure to the possibility of a shutdown. It can even prevent such unwelcome events as sewer backups. While most people will never know what goes on behind the scenes, quality service of a grease trap keeps a kitchen running at full capacity.
How To Prevent Grease Trap Backups
The most common cause of a backed-up grease trap or interceptor in a commercial or institutional kitchen is the improper disposal of fats, oils, and food solids. Pouring used cooking oil down a drain or permitting residues to remain on pans, pots or tableware until the time of washing can lead to blockages and backups. It is important to perform regular maintenance and schedule grease trap service to keep clogs from forming. Find out more about how grease traps function and learn how to keep sewer lines clear.
How a Grease Trap Works
Conventional grease traps are metal or plastic tanks situated above ground. Point-of-use passive or gravity-based traps are typically located under sinks or adjacent to dishwashers in commercial or institutional kitchens. A grease interceptor is a large in-ground tank made out of concrete, fiberglass or steel that holds between 500 gallons and 2,000 gallons and is located outdoors. A grease trap is the best choice for a facility that has flow volumes less than 50 gallons per minute. Higher flow volumes necessitate the use of an interceptor.
Grease traps and interceptors function as reservoirs for fat, oil, grease, food solids and wastewater. Fat, oil and grease float up to the top of the trap and harden. Solids and brown grease or grease sludge settle on the bottom of the tank. The wastewater in between is forced out of the trap into a sanitary sewer or septic system. Traps and interceptors both require regular grease trap service. The frequency of cleaning and pumping depends on the substances that go down the drain and the capacity of the trap.
In instances where a lot of water is being drained during dishwashing or sink draining, a lack of retention time will cause grease to flow directly through a trap into the sewer. Most grease traps are designed to prevent around 85% of grease from entering the drain, leaving about 15% of the grease in wastewater to flow into the sanitary sewer. The current American Society of Mechanical Engineers standard requiring that interceptors remove a minimum of 90% of fat, oil, and grease is currently being adopted into National Model Plumbing Codes.
Common Causes of Grease Trap Clogs
Some of the most common causes of a clogged grease trap include improper disposal methods for fat, oil, and grease in commercial and institutional kitchens. Used cooking oil should be properly disposed of to prevent drains from becoming clogged and any outdoor storage containers should be covered. Pans, pots, and dishware can also be dry-wiped prior to washing to reduce the amount of grease that travels down into the trap.
Once grease has entered the trap or drain line, there is little that kitchen staff can do other than scheduling grease trap service. Grease solidifies as it cools and will either build up a coating on the top of a pipe or accumulate at the bottom. Running hot water to liquefy grease will only cause blockages to form further down the line. It is also not advisable to attempt to clear clogs without professional plumbing equipment and expertise, as solid objects could become lodged in the pipe and result in more severe problems.
It is also important to properly dispose of food waste. Garbage disposals should be avoided to limit the number of food solids that end up in a grease trap. It may be possible to further reduce the number of solids that end up going down the drain by using strainers or other filtration tools on dish sinks. Kitchen staff should also be trained not to pour liquid substances such as gravy, sauces or milkshakes down drains.
Food solids in a grease trap that is not cleaned regularly are exposed to fats, oils, and grease and left to decompose. If a trap is not cleaned frequently, this brown grease may become rancid. Pumping out a trap or interceptor during a grease trap service is the only way to remove the resulting sludge.
Grease Trap Maintenance
It is important to schedule maintenance of a grease trap. The frequency of cleaning and pumping depends on grease output. Grease traps that have a 100-gallon capacity or less should be cleaned on a weekly basis and pumped every 90 days. Cleaning should take place when patrons are not present to limit exposure to unpleasant odors.
Most grease traps should be cleaned at least every three months or more frequently for facilities with higher grease output and smaller trap capacity. The general rule is to arrange for grease trap service as soon as accumulated fats, oils, grease and solids fill one-quarter of the tank. At this point, a grease trap may emit foul odors and start to slow down sink drainage. If a grease trap regularly fills up to this level in less than three months, the owner or operator of a kitchen may want to consider sizing up to a trap that has a larger capacity.
Preventative measures are preferable to dealing with a clogged drain line. Sewer backups can result in interruptions or shutdowns due to sanitary issues. A foul odor and slow drainage are both clear indications that grease trap service is overdue. In addition to the risk of a clogged drain, a full grease trap can also pose a fire hazard. In these situations, the owner or operator of a commercial restaurant or institutional kitchen facility should arrange to have a trap or interceptor pumped.
A grease trap specialist will arrive on location in a truck with a large tank. Hoses are used to pump out the contents of an indoor grease trap or outdoor interceptor. It is important to check to make sure that the tank has been emptied during this procedure. An incomplete pumping may leave residual sediment on the bottom and sides that cause the trap to refill faster and require repeat service sooner than a clean grease trap.
When To Call a Grease Trap Service
Many municipalities and states regulate the proper disposal of grease and the frequency with which grease traps in commercial or institutional kitchens must be cleaned. A general rule is that cleaning and pumping should occur at least quarterly for facilities with low to moderate output and more frequently for higher output. Some agencies require proof of grease trap cleaning and compliance in order for a kitchen to operate.
Maintaining a grease trap can prevent blockages and backups, except in cases where a grease trap does not have a sufficient capacity or kitchen staff are not trained in methods for properly disposing of fat, oil, grease and food solids. A comprehensive effort on the part of staff to properly dispose of cooking oil and residues on cookware and tableware can reduce the amount of grease and waste that enter the trap, which may reduce the frequency of cleaning and pumping.
Beyond the need for periodic inspections, the presence of a foul odor or a backed-up drain are two clear signs that a grease trap should be serviced. A company that specializes in grease trap service can also inspect a trap to ensure that it is functioning properly and has a sufficient capacity for a commercial restaurant or institutional kitchen.
If a larger grease trap or a different design would be beneficial, experts can assess capacity and usage requirements before installing a grease trap or interceptor that meets the flow and grease output requirements of any kitchen facility. Having the right size and style of grease trap and regularly cleaning and pumping the trap may reduce the frequency of sewer line backups and the need for grease trap repairs.
Replace Faulty Grease Traps
Grease traps that are not the proper size for a facility should be replaced to avoid sewer line blockages and excessive water contamination. A grease trap that is deteriorating in condition due to infrequent cleaning that has caused the contents to release sulfuric acid should be replaced. The same goes for traps or interceptors that are poorly constructed or improperly installed.
Experts can simplify the process of choosing a new grease trap by making calculations based on gravity flow rates, fixture capacity, and grease production rates. A grease trap that works for a facility with low grease output may not be sufficient for a kitchen that has medium or high grease output. If installed, a smaller capacity unit may require much more frequent maintenance. The right grease trap for a facility should require cleaning and pumping on the more typical quarterly schedule.
A grease trap service that provides regular maintenance such as cleaning, repairs, and replacement can prevent backups from occurring and keep drain lines clear. Ace Grease Service offers service plans that include grease trap cleaning or pickup of used cooking oil. Clients who enroll in the cooking oil program may be eligible for a discount on grease trap maintenance. Commercial restaurants and institutional kitchen facilities must operate in accordance with regulations for the proper disposal of grease, oil, and fat. Scheduling regular cleaning of a grease trap or interceptor can promote compliance and reduce the need for costly repairs.
Everything You Need to Know About Servicing Your Grease Trap
No matter where your kitchen is in St Louis Mo, keeping your grease trap in check is important in helping your business run smoothly. In today’s hectic culinary industry, cleaning your grease trap may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you consider how to keep your restaurant clean and safe – between employees, customers, inventory and so many other areas to manage, it’s easy for basic maintenance to take a backseat. However, the last thing you want is for grease trap issues to arise when you least expect it! Repairing your grease trap is costly, time-consuming and capable of damaging your business’ reputation; in short, it’s better to take proactive care of your grease trap now rather than worrying about repercussions in the future. This is where using a professional grease trap service can help.
Understanding Your Grease Trap
Your grease trap keeps your kitchen’s fatty waste from damaging your building’s plumbing system. Grease traps are large metal boxes that can hold between ten and thousands of gallons of wastewater depending on their size. These metal housings fill with water, fats, grease and oils that are washed down the drains in your building; over time, this waste will float to the top of the water where it can be scooped out and disposed of. Grease traps are often equipped with air valves to help reduce pressure inside the metal housing, and large metal plates called ‘baffles’ help keep the fatty waste all in one place for easy cleaning.
Though grease traps are designed to accumulate waste over a long period of time, regularly cleaning out the fats and grease that build up inside are important to the health of your business. If too much waste builds up within the trap, it can cause an alarming number of problems:
- Backflow – when you’ve accumulated more waste than your grease trap can handle, it can back flow into your clean water pipes and cause serious damage to both your grease trap and plumbing system. In severe cases, serious buildup may contaminate your city’s sewer lines and land you with some hefty fines. In any event, resolving back flow and damage is very expensive.
- Runoff – if there’s nowhere else for your organic waste to go, your grease trap may overflow and cause runoff that flows out of the metal housing and into grass, down hills and even into your parking lot! This can be extremely harmful to the natural environment, as fatty waste may kill or stunt any vegetation it comes into long-term contact with; it can also be dangerous to any animals that may consume it. Moreover, grease buildup in the parking lot is highly noticeable and may offend your valued customers.
- Reputation Damage – fats oils and grease don’t have to be overflowing into the parking lot for your clientele to take notice. The odor of built-up grease alone is a dead giveaway, thanks to the growth of bacteria and release of sulphuric acid that can occur. Drain flies breed in substances like the fatty waste in your grease trap, and once they’ve started laying and hatching eggs, they’re slow-moving and instantly recognizable when buzzing around in your dining room. Leaving your grease trap unattended may also result in a reduced health code score – not only can this affect your business’ ability to operate, but a poor score may drive away customers.
The best way to combat issues with your grease trap is to take preventative measures now, before you’re faced with overflow and unsanitary conditions. One of the most important parts of keeping your business in check is to schedule a regular grease trap cleaning.
Setting a Cleaning Schedule
First, you’ll need to determine how often your grease trap needs to be cleaned. Several factors are at play here:
- How big is your grease trap? Smaller grease traps may not need to be cleaned as often as their larger counterparts.
- How much fatty waste does your business produce? Restaurants that make heavy use of cooking oils or ingredients rich in fats will likely need more frequent grease trap cleanings than those that don’t.
- How will you approach the cleaning process? If you plan to clean the grease trap yourself, you can see firsthand how much waste it has accumulated after a certain period of time; getting up-close and personal with your system can help you fine-tune a cleaning schedule that works perfectly for your business. If you’re planning on calling in a professional, however, you’ll want to follow any maintenance instructions they provide.
Generally, a good rule of thumb is to clean your grease trap once every three months. Keep in mind that your state may have laws that require you to have your grease trap serviced at specific intervals; it’s a good idea to research business and health code regulations in your area beforehand, so as to stay in compliance with the law.
Once you’ve decided how often you’ll perform a grease trap cleaning, jot it down in your calendar and set yourself a reminder somewhere you’ll see and hear it. You may want to schedule the cleaning at a time when your operation is closed, or at least during slow business hours. The cleaning process is messy and can take a good bit of time, so the less else you have to worry about, the more you can focus on properly servicing your grease trap.
Now comes another critical decision: should you hire a professional service, or clean the trap yourself? There are benefits and drawbacks to both options; ultimately, you’ll need to take into account your business’ specific needs before making this choice.
Hiring a Professional
Bringing in a seasoned expert is almost always a good idea – they’re experienced in serving commercial kitchens and have likely performed trap services on machines of all shapes, sizes and conditions. They have access to professional equipment that makes the cleaning process much faster and easier, and can easily diagnose issues that you may not have otherwise noticed. Experienced professionals can also provide you with insight on how to take care of your machine and can even help you build a service plan that’s custom tailored to your business. In addition, these experts can dispose of your grease appropriately and ultimately help you maintain a sanitary sewer system for your building. Using a grease trap service also opens up your busy schedule; while the pros are hard at work cleaning out your system, you’ll be free to attend to other business as needed.
It is important to remember that hiring a professional will cost more than maintaining the grease trap yourself. If you’ve never hired a grease trap service before, you may need to do some shopping around to find a company that can suit all of your business’ needs. Every grease trap maintenance team is different; they may only service certain areas or charge different rates for different services, so it’s wise to do your own research on a a company before hiring them. Be sure to look at customer reviews for the company as well! These can speak volumes about whether or not they will be a good fit for your business.
Cleaning Your Own Trap
With enough time and the right tools, cleaning your grease trap can be a fairly simple job. It’s significantly less expensive than hiring a professional, as the job will only cost as much as the equipment you purchase for it. A standard toolkit should include the following:
- Industrial rubber gloves
- Gas mask or medical face mask
- Crow bar
- Wooden ruler
- Adjustable wrench
- Metal scraper
- Steel wool
- Shop vacuum
Most of these items are available at any hardware store and are one-time purchases for the job. Since you’re cutting the cost of labor from the equation, cleaning your own grease trap is much more cost effective than hiring a grease trap service. Along with this, it allows you to better understand your own machine. Performing the job can be time consuming, but is a fairly basic procedure: simply remove the top from your grease trap, drain the water from underneath the grease floating at the top, scrape out the grease and give the whole thing a good soap-and-water scrub.
It will take longer to clean your own trap, and you may still need to contact a professional when it’s time to dispose of your grease. If you’re not careful or you don’t clean the trap properly, you may end up causing damage to the machine. In the end, you’ll want to take a look at your budget and schedule to decide whether cleaning it yourself is the best option.
No matter how you choose to do it, cleaning your grease trap is important. Grease traps prevent serious damage to your building’s plumbing and the city’s sewer system, ultimately keeping your business safe and sanitary. Whether you opt to call in a professional or clean the trap yourself, be sure to set yourself a schedule and regularly maintain your grease trap. If you’re ever unsure about how to care for your grease trap, you can always call a professional grease trap service for more information!
Don’t Clog Your Drains: Your Guide to Regular Grease Trap Cleaning
Most people know that fats, oil and grease can clog up a drainage system. If you work in a restaurant, you will most likely deal with a variety of fats and oils. Many of these fats end up in the sink when the dishwasher cleans the dishes throughout the day. While the dishes become clean, the grease and oil has to enter the system. The problem is that it cannot simply move through the pipes and into the sewer.
In a restaurant, your grease trap keeps food solids and grease from entering the sanitary sewer system. Grease traps are common in restaurants because they capture any of the waste deposited in drains. The trap catches the grease because grease is lighter than water and tends to float to the top. Food solids, on the other hand, will sink to the bottom.
If you have a grease trap, you will need to have it maintained regularly. Often, a plumbing service or commercial cleaning service can handle your maintenance needs. If you are new to owning a grease trap, here is a guide to how to handle grease trap cleaning.
How to Perform Grease Trap Maintenance
What’s the point of having a grease trap if it doesn’t function properly? If you want your grease trap to function, maintenance is crucial. With the right maintenance, you can increase the longevity of your grease trap. Without maintenance, you may wind up having to replace the whole grease trap system early or pay for expensive repairs.
You can either perform regular maintenance by yourself or call a professional in plumbing or grease trap cleaning services. If you do not know how to take apart your trap or how to put it back together, it is recommended that you do not perform maintenance on your own. Maintenance involves cleaning your grease trap of any built-up oil and grease before it causes a block in the system or leads to bad odors.
In order to perform maintenance, there are a few tools that you will need or that your cleaning service will have when they arrive. These tools include:
- A vacuum
- A wrench or crowbar
- A scrape
- Rubber gloves
Maintenance can be extremely messy and so it’s important that you are protected from oils and fats when cleaning a grease trap.
Where to Find Grease Traps
If you need to have your grease trap cleaned, then it’s important that you know where the trap is. The location depends on the size of the grease trap and the size of your restaurant. For a lot of commercial grease traps, you’ll find them outside, next to the kitchen’s outside wall. The trap may look like a septic tank cover.
If your trap isn’t located outside, then it may be in the basement below the kitchen. Sometimes, installers will put the grease trap in the basement so that it can’t freeze over in the winter time. Having it in the basement can also keep it near the dishwashing station.
The other option is that your grease trap will be in your kitchen, under the sink or in a box that sits on the kitchen floor. In some cases, the grease trap may be hidden beneath a metal flashing in the floor. Wherever your grease trap is located, it’s important that you know where it is.
What a Grease Trap Consists Of
A commercial grease trap has several different components. The first component that you’ll probably notice is the lid itself. Inside the grease trap, it has baffles. Baffles separate the waste water in the tank. For outdoor tanks, there is usually a PVC pipe fitting. This PVC pipe makes sure that the water leaving the trap comes from the middle and that none of the solids can exit into the sewer system.
When to Clean the Grease Traps
There are recommendations when it comes to how often you should clean a grease trap. While these are important to follow and can be great guidelines, you also need to know what problems to look for when it comes to keeping your grease trap system clean in St louis, MO.
When your restaurant is busy, it is easy to forget about regular maintenance. In fact, most restaurant owners have had to deal with grease trap problems at one point or another. If you don’t clean your trap regularly, your entire kitchen could be filled with unpleasant odors. The dirtier the trap is, the worse the smell is going to be. The odor alone could force you to close the restaurant until you can invest in a grease trap cleaning.
In addition to an unpleasant odor, the grease can clog your system. This can make it difficult for water to drain and for the sewer to back up into your property. Both problems are potentially dangerous for your business. It can force you to shut down and lose revenue for a few days or it can lead to health problems with your customers and staff. Likewise, when there is any sort of backup, you have to pay for the cleanup and repair costs afterwards.
Another discovery that means you need to have your grease trap serviced is if you are finding debris and grease in places that you wouldn’t normally find it. When your drains are clogged, then the grease is going to try to find the easiest exits. This means that you may find grease in your sink, water lines and sewer pipes. If you find this, then the first place you want to check is the grease trap. If there is a problem with your trap or if it needs cleaning, then it’s important that you schedule a cleaning as soon as possible. Otherwise, it could be a health hazard for your restaurant.
What to Expect During a Grease Trap Cleaning
Even if you choose to have your grease trap cleaned by a plumbing service, it helps to understand the process. When you pay for a service, why not know exactly what you are paying for? Commercial grease traps take several different steps to clean out properly.
First, the professional detaches the lid from the grease trap. One reason to have it cleaned professionally is to protect the gaskets under the cover. If you aren’t careful, you could damage these gaskets. Instead of dealing with unnecessary expenses, it’s better to pay for the service upfront and rest easy knowing that the contractor has experience.
A vacuum device is used to suck the grease out of the tank. Normally, the grease will settle at the top of the tank and make it easy to remove it. It’s important to get the grease off the top first because otherwise it will adhere to the sides as the water level drops. Once they remove the top layer, they will continue to suck the rest of the wastewater and waste out of your trap.
Once the vacuuming is complete, the plumbing service will scrape the grease from the lid and the sides with a scraper. It is important that they remove any solidified fat oils and grease. Once they have removed all of the grease from the trap, they can use soap and water to clean the sides, lid and other parts of the grease trap. This will help give a new, clean shine to your grease trap. Once finished, they can flush the trap to remove any excess debris and soap.
The contractors will test your grease trap once it’s been cleaned. They do this by draining a gallon of water from the sink. The water should easily drain through. Once the cleaning service is sure that the grease trap functions properly, they will reinstall all of the different grease trap parts.
If your grease trap has a liquid depth that is over a quarter of the entire trap, then it’s time to clean it. This is a guideline set down by the EPA for health and safety. Plus, if you stick to this rule, you are less likely to have clogs.
Once the whole process is finished, then your grease trap should function as good as new! With most services, you don’t have to worry about disposing of the waste yourself. Instead, you can rely on the service to dispose of any grease or wastewater. After finishing, you should expect to conduct maintenance at least once every two months. Judge the timing by how much you use work with oil and grease. A commercial plumbing service can provide you with a comprehensive maintenance plan.
A restaurant’s grease trap is an important component to the running of a kitchen. Without it, you could end up with clogged pipes, backed up sewers and money lost on expensive repairs and replacements from a plumbing service. To avoid all of that hassle, most restaurants have a grease trap. If your restaurant has a grease trap, there isn’t a lot that you have to do for it. You simply let it collect the grease and separate it from the wastewater. Your biggest responsibility is to ensure that it undergoes regular grease trap cleaning to prevent any clogs or backups.
Don’t Slack on Grease Trap Cleaning
Do you own your own restaurant or commercial kitchen? If you have an industrial kitchen, then you already know that you need special equipment to run a functioning business. Commercial ovens, refrigerators, utensils and more are necessary to handle the amount of orders you receive per day. Commercial kitchens may include schools, restaurants, bars or cafeterias. If you are at the head of a kitchen in the food industry, then you need to have a kitchen that can withstand the work that you and your staff accomplish. Likewise, you need to have a sink that can handle all the grease and oil that cooking leaves behind.
This is where any plumbing service will tell you about grease traps. Commercial grease traps are plumbing devices that trap grease and other oils that build up in the system. It will stop said buildup from entering the wastewater system. A sanitary sewer should never have oil or fats clogging the system. Grease traps prevent clogs and can help you avoid severe plumbing issues.
Think about how dangerous grease can be in your kitchen at home. After all, you would never pour grease down the drain. It is thick and does not dissolve when mixed with water. Instead, it hardens in the drain pipes and creates several more severe problems in the meantime. If you have a grease trap, then you are more likely to have clean water entering your sewer lines. The reasons that you should have a grease trap are numerous. In addition, it is important that you invest in grease trap cleaning. Here is your guide to grease traps and the problems with slacking on a cleaning.
A Grease Trap’s Purpose
Commercial kitchens flush a large amount of wastewater through the drains day after day. Unfortunately, much of that waste water is filled with the fats oils and grease from the food preparation and cooking for the day. Grease traps are boxes attached to the drain line. These traps may be outside of the building or in the kitchen itself. A grease trap is separates the grease from the water. The lighter grease floats to the surface while other food particles fall to the bottom. Only water goes through the drain pipe and into the sewer itself.
The reason that you may have a grease trap is to keep your sewer lines clean and in functioning order. When grease and oil builds up in your lines, it can lead to sewage backup. In addition, if you are on the municipal sewer system, then you will find out that the city does not like to have blockages. This is why some cities will require you to have a grease trap in a restaurant or other foodservice business. These traps also have to undergo regular inspections.
A Grease Trap’s Problems
When you do not invest in regular grease trap cleaning or maintenance, then your grease trap may wind up with a variety of problems. Don’t try to skip out on maintenance, in hopes that the time between cleanings will save you money. In the long run, it is going to cost you a lot more in fixing your grease trap.
A full grease trap fills up fast. If you do not invest in routine maintenance, then the grease and oil may begin to backup into the sinks or drains attached. If the grease has been full for a long time, then no doubt you are going to start to see clogs in the lines. If you are not sure if your grease trap needs to be cleaned, there are some tell tale signs to look out for.
First, is your restaurant’s drain moving slowly or is it clogged? Does the grease reach up to a quarter of your trap’s depth? Have you found oil or grease in your sinks, drains or under the sink? When you find grease in strange places, this usually means that there is a backup.
In addition to visually seeing the backups, you may begin to smell a foul odor coming from the trap. You should never have foul odors in your kitchen. If you begin to smell something coming from the trap, then odds are you haven’t cleaned it recently and need to schedule a cleaning as soon as possible.
If you go too long without a cleaning, you may end up with clogs in the incoming and outgoing lines. When you clog the incoming line, then you may begin to see backup in the floor drains. If you see a backed up sink, then odds are you have a branch line clogged. For outgoing lines, the grease trap will overflow. This type of clog may be in your line or the city’s line.
Always take a sewer or drain backup seriously. When the drain backs up, you may have to close down the restaurant for however long it takes for the repairs to happen. Then, after that, you have to examine the damage and make sure that the restaurant is clean before you can operate it again. The cost of repairing your lines and grease traps adds up. Not to mention, you could lose income while your restaurant is closed.
A Solution to Grease Trap Problems
Grease trap maintenance is your number one solution to all of your grease trap problems. If you maintain the fats oils and grease in advance, then you will not have to deal with the consequences later. You should have your grease trap professionally cleaned at least two to three times a year. This number is heavily dependent on the size of your kitchen, the trap and the types of foods that you prepare in the kitchen. Some kitchens may require cleanings more often.
To clean a grease trap, professionals remove the lid from the trap. Once removed, the professional will check to see how many inches of grease are in the trap. Once this is done, the water is removed from the grease trap with a bucket or a small pump. The water is what the professional sets aside. Once done, the grease is scraped out of the trap. Most professionals will make sure that there is no excess grease in your trap when it is over.
Now, if your grease trap has leaks and if it backs up all of the time without any reprieve after cleaning, then you may have a deeper issue with the grease trap. In some instances, if the grease trap is not filtering the grease from the water, then you may have to replace the trap entirely.
A Grease Trap Professional to the Rescue
As a restaurant owner, you have to wear a lot of different hats. It can be difficult to spend time cleaning and maintaining all of your equipment. If you’re like most restaurant owners, you have someone who takes care of your appliances and maintains your kitchen so that you can focus on the aspects of your business that matter to you. Your grease trap should be no different.
When you invest in professional maintenance, you receive help from people who understand the ins and outs of grease trap cleaning and maintenance. If your trap is too small for your kitchen, then the professional can help you find a trap of adequate size. Likewise, he or she can help you decide when to clean your trap and how regularly you should schedule a grease trap cleaning.
Additionally, you do not have to worry about the cleanup. You can let the professional handle the cleaning and when it comes to the disposal of fats, oils and grease, you don’t have to worry about it.
A Commercial Kitchen Requires Heavy-Duty Solutions
Your kitchen is your livelihood. It is up to you to ensure that it runs smoothly day in and day out. To run a successful business, your kitchen must be clean, your appliances much function and you must be able to make a profit off your culinary skills. If you do not have a functioning grease trap, you could lose business or severely back up your sewer lines.
The grease trap is a crucial element in any commercial kitchen. While it may be a luxury items in a person’s personal residence, it is not a luxury item for those who work in the food industry. Instead, these are necessary appliances. Without it, the fats and grease drain with the water. Soon, the grease builds up inside of the pipes and leads to bigger problems down the road. You could damage your pipes or cause the sewer to back up into your kitchen.
If you want to keep your kitchen or cafeteria open to the public, then you need to invest in a grease trap. When there is serious backup, you have to close down until you can complete repairs on the grease trap and the sewer lines. This can be lost money. Frankly, it is always easier to pay for maintenance than it is to deal with repair work. Grease trap cleaning is the best way that you can maintain your grease trap.
Three Ways You Can Seriously Deep-Clean Your Restaurant’s Kitchen
Health and industry standards have played a major role in the way that restaurants run today, but not everyone follows the health and safety regulations as rigorously as you do. You already know how vital is it to disinfect countertops and to wear gloves to avoid cross-contamination, but what about the aspects of your kitchen that get less attention than other areas? What should you do to keep your restaurant’s kitchen running smoothly and hygienic at the same time? Springtime is upon us, which means that now is the perfect time to roll up your sleeves and start giving your kitchen a thorough cleaning.
1. Grease Trap Cleaning: Save DIY For Arts and Crafts
Most states dictate that your restaurant’s grease trap must be cleaned and serviced every 90 days. Although you can certainly do this with the right tools and a lot of patience, why settle for doing it yourself when you can hire out a grease trap service? These professionals are trained in the fine art of removing cooking oils from your establishment for them to be recycled elsewhere, leaving your kitchen feeling (and smelling) so much better with less cooking grease floating in the air.
What Is a Grease Trap, Really?
This piece of commercial equipment is an essential piece of any restaurant’s kitchen. Grease and oil tend to float to the top, and one function of your trap is to separate those fats and oils within your plumbing system; grease traps prevent clogging your sewer lines. You can imagine how nasty it all looks and smells after a stretch of use, which means that a thorough cleaning is necessary to maintain a sanitary sewer.
Why Hire a Professional?
Since you’re a restaurant owner, you probably know your way around a kitchen pretty well — which means that you know how very, very important grease trap maintenance is to keep a hygienic establishment. Grease that is unproperly disposed of/a clogged grease trap will become a nightmare for your sewer system over time; it’s not a question of “if,” it will cause problems for you sooner or later.
Furthermore, the bottom line is that cooking grease and debris are just gross. Do you really want to spend a day picking chunks of food out of your grease trap with a putty knife? No? Didn’t think so. Trust the pros from a legal, legitimate trap services company to collect your fats oils and grease, then perform routine cleanings using industrial equipment. It’s so much faster and more convenient than if you had tried to take care of it on your own.
2. Freezers, Fridges and Food Storage, Oh My!
Any area where you store food needs to be ready for an impromptu inspection at any given time. That being said, ensure that when you walk through your restaurant’s fridge or freezer, always keep your eyes on the labels and expiration dates. It’s easy to lose track of things like old salad dressing or find unlabeled produce buried in the depths of the shelves, but when you have a proper cleaning system in place then this becomes a thing of the past. In the long term, it will also save you money by giving you a more accurate inventory checklist and prevent you from purchasing unnecessary duplicates of items.
Make It a Habit
One of the best tips for keeping a clean, organized commercial fridge or freezer is to clean it as you notice spills and expired goods. Wipe anything that drips onto the shelves and toss all items that are past the expiration date. Train employees to do the same and do a weekly walkthrough to ensure that there’s nothing that needs to be immediately addressed.
Clean Your Shelves
The recommendation is to do this daily, but if your personal preference varies to weekly then that’s your choice — you know your kitchen the best. Regardless, the important part is to ensure that your shelves are actually clean and sanitary enough to store food. It’s simple to do on your own and if you would like an extra set of hands, ask one of your staff to help you.
- Unplug the unit first and foremost. This is essential to prevent shocks and threats of electrocution, so make it the first step in your cleaning regimen.
- Going shelf-by-shelf, remove everything from its spot and ensure that nothing is rancid or expired. Have a garbage bag handy to throw out anything nasty that you find.
- Using hot, soapy water and a rag, wipe every shelf and scrub away any food debris or spills that you find. This is the most time-consuming, yet the most important part of the process. Food particles that sit unnoticed can grow mold and bacteria in no time, which can quickly spread to other parts of the unit if it’s not taken care of properly. Use a water-soaked rag to rinse the shelves and buff dry with a clean cloth.
- The last step, as usual in the restaurant industry, is to sanitize the space to ward off any further mold growth and keep the unit fresh for longer. Use a food-safe sanitizer to disinfect and eliminate any lurking traces of bacteria that you might have missed. Remember that less is more; you don’t want to walk into your fridge later and smell like you’re in a laboratory.
3. Wipe Down Those Walls
Dust loves to cling to greasy spots, making a kitchen one of the best places to find clumps of grease-caked dust bunnies if you aren’t on top of your cleaning routine. Everything from sauce to cooking oils tend to splash all over the place, collecting on spots on the kitchen walls that you have probably been missing. Other than potentially staining the wall, don’t forget about another unpleasant side effect: Lingering odors that seep into the drywall. On a day that the restaurant is closed, take the opportunity to scrub the walls and free them from any debris and smells from cooking. Make sure to move anything like carts or tools to get areas that you don’t normally have access to.
Spray With a Cleaning Solution
One of the easiest ways to start deep-cleaning your restaurant walls is to spray them with a food-safe all-purpose cleaner first. You can purchase these at any store, but one of the easiest ways is to make your own:
- In a clean spray bottle, measure out one to two cups of warm water
- Using a funnel, add in half a cup of white vinegar or lemon juice
- Measure one teaspoon of dish soap (like Dawn) and give the bottle a light shake to mix all ingredients
Wipe Or Mop
Once you’ve evenly dampened the walls with your cleaner, start wiping them down. You can use a rag and do this manually, but one trick is to use a flat-headed mop to actually do the backbreaking work for you. Simply have a bucket of hot water and your all-purpose spray cleaner handy and mop the walls as you would your floor. Have extra heads ready in case the walls are particularly nasty.
Don’t forget about the ceiling as well. Look up. Now to the right. All right, now to the left. See all that grease buildup? If your answer was no, congratulations! You’re already doing your job. If you happen to see a few spots that could use some elbow grease instead of cooking grease, have a spotter help you with a ladder to get the areas like above the stove and fryer cleaned up. Remember that personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential: Wear goggles in case of drips, appropriate footwear to prevent slipping and falling and gloves to prevent contact between your skin and any chemicals you might be using.
Scrub Where It’s Super Gross
Since you’re unable to see every part of your kitchen at all times, take advantage of the time to actually scrub the areas that need more attention. Using a bristled cleaning brush, get into nooks and crannies to get all traces of food debris off. A toothbrush makes an excellent cleaning tool for small or hard-to-reach spaces. This sometimes requires you to bend and twist in awkward positions to reach, so be prepared ahead of time. Consider doing stretches to get your muscles warmed up first.
The Cleaner Your Restaurant, The Healthier It Is
Achieving a high rating on all of your inspections (planned or spontaneous) should be one of your top priorities as a restaurant owner. You already keep a clean kitchen, wear gloves and avoid the spread of foodborne illness, but some parts of the establishment are dirtier than others by nature. It’s those unseen areas that can build up and cause the most trouble down the line if left unattended. In the spirit of spring cleaning, fresh beginnings and a healthier lifestyle, ensure that you’re performing more than the everyday maintenance in your kitchen. From hiring a grease trap service to eliminating the growth of hazardous bacteria, it’s your responsibility as a restaurant owner to keep your patrons healthy. The best place to uphold that responsibility is in the kitchen.
What Happens When You Do Not Schedule Routine Grease Trap Cleaning?
If you manage a restaurant or other food service establishment, chances are good that you regularly schedule grease trap cleaning. Grease traps are an essential part of almost any restaurant, and virtually every city requires them in order to prevent clogs in the water system. With all the challenges that come with running a restaurant, it can be easy to forget about grease trap maintenance.
Plenty of restaurants opt to clean grease traps themselves in order to save money on professional cleaning fees. However, in-house cleaning is rarely as thorough as professional cleaning, and employees are not usually able to identify and repair issues with grease traps until they cause major issues. Regular and thorough trap cleaning is vitally important, and failing to do say can result in serious negative repercussions for your business.
Odors Can Build Up in Your Restaurant
If you have ever waited too long to take out the garbage, you know just how terrible old food waste smells. A grease trap is the same way. Grease and scraps of food collect in the tank and can begin to rot, which creates a terrible odor. The smell is often worse during the warmer months, and it can become overpowering to kitchen staff. In severe cases, it may even affect the taste of food.
If a commercial grease trap catches a large volume of food waste or goes a very long time between each grease trap cleaning, the odor can even back up into the area where customers sit. This is something that is likely to have a negative impact on profits and on your restaurant’s reputation. Even if it only happens once or twice, there is a good chance that your restaurant will be talked about or reviewed negatively, even long after the issue has been resolved. Plus, customers who can smell your restaurant’s grease trap while trying to enjoy a meal are not likely to return.
Your Grease Trap System Can Become Damaged
If you put off grease trap cleaning for too long, the bits of food in the tank begin to decompose. This produces sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid is one of the main causes of bad odors coming from grease traps, and it is frequently described as smelling like rotten eggs. Besides having a rotten smell, it also has the potential to irritate the respiratory tract, especially in high concentrations. It is also corrosive enough to cause permanent damage to the tank.
Depending on the severity of grease trap damage, a sulfuric acid buildup may mean you end up paying for costly repairs or even for a full replacement. Either way, these are expensive and time-consuming issues that you likely want to avoid.
You Might Experience Water Backups
If you go for a long period of time without scheduling grease trap cleaning, the trap itself may become full. And when there is grease up to the top of the tank, you may notice that water starts backing up out of the drain. You may also notice water backing up into the sink.
If this happens, it is very important to schedule grease trap maintenance as soon as possible. A backup like this makes clog formation much more likely. If grease has been sitting in a trap long enough to fill it completely, there also is a good chance that the tank has begun to corrode.
Because water backups usually only happen if a grease trap has been neglected for some time, it is especially important to contact a professional cleaning service if you notice them. A service will make sure your grease trap system is cleaned correctly, and they also can assess it to make sure there is no existing damage. A professional grease trap cleaning service also can look for clogs and treat them, preventing further issues as time goes on.
It Can Become Even Harder to Clean
If you have ever left a pan with baked-on food and then tried to clean it in a few hours, you know how it becomes much more challenging to clean. Similarly, food debris that is left in a grease trap over time becomes much more challenging to clean. Old food bits will become stuck to the sides of the tank. While professional grease trap cleaning services have the necessary supplies to clean a trap like this, caked-on food is exceedingly difficult for restaurant staff to clean properly. Restaurant staff members are often juggling multiple duties at once, and employees may do an incomplete grease trap cleaning in order to move on to other tasks.
Ideally, your grease trap maintenance schedule will allow frequent cleanings. This type of schedule prevents excessive buildup on the sides of the tank, and it also makes water backups and highly unpleasant odors much less likely. Most professionals recommend having a grease trap cleaned approximately every three months. However, if your establishment produces a large volume of grease or if you know that your grease trap system is prone to clogging or other issues, more frequent cleanings may be wise. A grease trap cleaning professional will be able to assess your grease trap system and recommend a cleaning schedule that will keep it running smoothly.
Your System May Experience Drainage Issues
Every grease trap has a flow restrictor (also called a flow limiter). This slows the speed of the water coming into the trap. The flow restrictor makes sure that enough air can enter the grease trap to promote proper flow, and it also ensures that fast-flowing water or grease will not splash back out of the drain.
Flow restrictors are essential to a smoothly-running grease trap system, but they also have the potential to cause issues with a commercial grease trap. When grease trap cleaning is not regular, there is a high probability that grease will accumulate within the restrictor. Just like plaque coating an artery, this grease buildup slows the flow through the restrictor. This slows down the draining process. Depending on the exact type of floe restrictor used in your grease trap system, this component may be more prone to problems from grease buildup. If it frequently experiences issues, a professional may be able to recommend a good replacement component.
Often, restaurants who clean their own grease traps will still experience drainage issues after cleaning. If this is the case, it is highly likely that the flow restrictor has significant grease buildup. In order to avoid causing damage to the restrictor, it is generally advisable to contact a plumbing service or grease trap maintenance company to remove the buildup and restore the restrictor to proper function.
Clogs May Form
Every restaurant owner or manager knows that congealed grease can cause clogs. With a commercial grease trap that has not been regularly cleaned, it is likely that excess grease will cause a clog in either the ingoing or outgoing line. Depending on the length of the lines in your grease trap, it can be very difficult to narrow down the location of the clog.
Generally, clogs in incoming lines cause the entire grease trap system to work improperly. Overflow issues are commonly caused by a clog in the outgoing line. However, attempting to fix a clog yourself is often futile, and it may even result in damage to the grease trap system. If you suspect a clog, a plumber or grease trap cleaning professional can help. Clogs left for long periods of time may migrate further and become more difficult to fix, so it is generally wise to deal with them as soon as possible.
You May Face Fines
Most cities have inspectors who are sometimes called the Fats, Oils, and Grease Police. If a restaurant has a backed-up grease trap or a trap that is otherwise not functioning properly, grease may form clogs in the city water system. When this happens, major disruptions can occur, and the clogs are generally expensive and difficult to remove.
If your restaurant is in a city that actively enforces grease trap regulations, you likely are subjected to regular visits from the fats, oils, and grease inspector. If your grease trap is not up to code, your restaurant is likely to face major fines. In some cases, it may even be shut down until your grease trap becomes compliant again.
In order to avoid violating regulations on grease traps, it is especially important to have a professional grease trap cleaning service clean and inspect your traps. These services do more than clean — they can look for existing issues with your system and repair them as needed. A problem grease trap has the potential to cost a business its good reputation and result in considerable fines, but a good cleaning service can solve most issues before it gets to that point.
Grease trap cleaning is sometimes easy to forget, but putting off routine cleaning almost always leads to more hassle and greater expenses in the long run. When you hire a professional cleaning service to maintain your system, you can rest assured that your restaurant’s grease trap will be thoroughly and properly cleaned each time.
What Services Can a Grease Trap Service Provide?
You already know that a grease trap service can clean your restaurant’s grease traps. But did you know that these services can help your business stay running smoothly in other ways? A reputable grease trap cleaning service can provide a range of other services that help your restaurant stay clean, sanitary and safe.
Removal of Used Cooking Oils
Used cooking oil needs to be handled appropriately, and you can trust your St. Louis, MO grease trap service to safely remove your used oil. These companies are willing to be flexible, and they can remove used oil from inside of your system or from an external container. A custom-tailored, regular pickup will reduce stress and cut down on your daily workload.
Just like a trash pickup service, a grease trap maintenance company can provide you with outdoor storage containers free of charge. But unlike garbage pickup companies, these services will pay you for used oil. They will work with you whether you run a small restaurant or an entire chain. Even if your business needs to recycle much more oil than the average restaurant, a grease trap service company will be able to work with you to develop a solution that works.
If you need regular cooking oil removal, you can work with your local grease trap service to set up a schedule that works for you. Cooking oil recycling is better for the environment, so you can rest assured that you are working to benefit the earth too.
Vent Hood Cleaning
With all that goes into running your restaurant, it is easy to forget about the importance of vent hood cleaning. However, a dirty vent hood can cause a number of issues:
- Fires due to excess buildup
- Unpleasant odors in your kitchen and in the rest of the restaurant
- Poor ventilation and poor air quality
- Vent fan failure
- Presence of smoke in your restaurant
- Increased insurance premiums due to non-compliance with fire codes
Though many restaurant owners may prefer to do some maintenance on their own, it is extremely difficult to thoroughly clean hoods and ventilation systems without proper training and equipment.
If you have a commercial kitchen, regular and thorough cleaning of your vent hoods is vital. Your local grease trap service company can work with you to set a schedule that keeps your air fresh and reduces your risk of a catastrophic fire.
Grease Trap Maintenance
A well-functioning grease trap works to keep fats oils and grease out of municipal water systems. While it may be easy to put off maintenance, a poorly-maintained trap can quickly turn into a crisis situation. Too-full grease traps can overflow, and they may also increase the risk of a clog happening. Grease clogs can negatively impact your restaurant’s entire system. If they reach the city water supply, they also can become costly to fix and may result in your restaurant facing sizable fines.
Additionally, buildups of old grease can cause accumulation of caustic gases and an increase in odor. In severe cases, this odor buildup can negatively affect air quality. This can drive away customers and make your kitchen staff miserable.
A grease trap service will be able to work with you to set up an appropriate cleaning schedule. Regular, professionally-done cleaning will help you prevent costly issues down the line. In some cases, you may be able to save money by bundling regular cleaning with another service offered by your grease trap company.
Of course, in order to keep your grease trap in compliance with municipal regulations, it is essential to have a trap that is functioning optimally. A grease trap service will be able to diagnose and treat any issues with your traps. They can efficiently and effectively repair malfunctioning traps. If you need a replacement, companies offering trap services can also order and install replacements.
A well-functioning grease trap is crucial when it comes to safety in restaurants. When it comes to maintenance and repair, it is absolutely essential to have trained professionals handling maintenance, installation and repair. By having a grease trap service company handle all issues relating to your traps, you will have everything done correctly the first time. This way, you will be able to stay in compliance with fats oils and grease regulations and keep your restaurant running smoothly.
Regular grease trap cleaning is a necessity, but even the best-kept traps may occasionally cause line clogs. Once a clog reaches a line, it becomes much more difficult to clear, especially if you are doing your own grease trap maintenance. Over time, any line will accumulate a grease buildup. This slows water flow and may lead to backups. A line with buildup is more likely to become completely clogged, which may cause your restaurant to shut down.
Line cleaning is a relatively simple process to do — a maintenance company simply runs a jet through the line, clearing out all buildup. This is a service that most experts recommend having done quarterly, and as with many types of restaurant maintenance, it is very difficult to do without the necessary equipment and training. However, your grease trap service company can assess your system and recommend a service interval that minimizes your risk of clogs. And as with many grease trap and plumbing issues, routine maintenance is one of the most important steps when it comes to avoiding sudden, crisis-level problems.
Even with on-schedule maintenance, you may find that your system experiences a clog. Grease trap services will also be able to provide emergency services. By quickly coming to your restaurant and righting the issue, they will be able to help your restaurant get back to normal functioning in no time, minimizing your profit losses and reducing the risk of damage to your system.
When you are busy running a restaurant, working with multiple service companies can add confusion. Your local grease trap service will often offer plumbing services as well. After all, grease trap and plumbing systems are intimately connected, and an issue with one frequently causes an issue with the other.
Of course, many plumbing issues arise suddenly, and an inability to have them dealt with quickly may spell disaster. Fortunately, many grease trap services offer 24/7 emergency services. Whether you are dealing with a malfunctioning dishwasher or a backed-up drain, they can efficiently resolve the problem, minimizing any damage and allowing you to return to normal functioning as soon as possible.
While the service is in your restaurant, they also may be able to inspect the rest of your plumbing system. Many plumbing issues are caused by damage or other problems that a non-professional cannot diagnose. By allowing a service to check for problems and fix them, you will reduce your risk of a major plumbing failure happening at an inopportune time.
Even if your restaurant’s interior is as pristine as possible, a dirty exterior has the potential to dissuade customers from visiting. Most restaurants do not keep their own power washing equipment. However, most grease trap service companies also offer exterior power washing. This is a relatively quick, easy procedure, and you may be able to combine it with grease trap maintenance.
Whether you want the exterior of your restaurant to be power washed or want to clean up a dirty trash corral, call your local grease trap service. You can either schedule power washing as you need it or work with the company to set up a regular schedule that keeps your restaurant looking fresh. Grease trap companies understand the importance of causing as little disruption to normal business as possible. They will be able to schedule cleaning at a time that is convenient for your business.
In a world that is beginning to focus more and more on conservation initiatives, water waste is a major issue. Wastewater removal services help conserve water by removing wastewater and delivering it to a wastewater treatment plant. There, the water is reconditioned and released back into the water supply. Under normal circumstances, wastewater from restaurants is removed from the water supply completely. While it takes a little effort to set up wastewater removal, doing so helps to prevent excessive waste.
It may surprise you to learn that most grease trap maintenance services will also offer wastewater removal services. If your restaurant is committed to sustainability, reach out to your grease trap service to develop a wastewater management plan. These services will work with you to create a schedule, and they make sure they keep all processes in line with environmental regulations. Many restaurants today are working toward reducing waste, and partnering with a company that offers wastewater removal is a relatively easy way to do so.
As with most processes, regular grease trap maintenance is often preferable to dealing with an emergency. Your local grease trap service provider can help you stay on top of trap management and more. By working with one, you will be able to streamline a sizable portion of your restaurant’s day-to-day maintenance, keep your restaurant in compliance with environmental regulations and avoid costly, stressful emergencies.
Invest in Commercial Grease Trap Services in St. Louis
Maintain your commercial drainage system with a professional grease trap service. Find out how our comprehensive services at Ace Grease can restore your commercial kitchen and prepare you for another busy week of preparing food in a commercial kitchen or local restaurant. Learn more about how your grease trap works, why you shouldn’t attempt to clean it yourself and how our services can help.
Grease Trap Cleaning Explained
We all know that grease can affect sewer lines. Liquid grease, once solidified, can create a blockage in a sewer line that is difficult and costly to remove. You may be able to prevent pouring grease down your home kitchen sink, but holding back all grease in a commercial kitchen can be time-consuming and impractical.
That’s where a grease trap comes in. Grease traps prevent fat, oils and grease from entering your sewer line. It works by using a system of baffles to slow the flow of water and control how quickly grease exits your building. This fat, oil and grease floats on top of your gray water because it’s 10 to 15% less dense. Because it floats on top of water rather than mixing, it can safely be prevented by a baffle in a grease trap.
Look under your sink and you should see a grease trap. If you cook meat or use any oil or fat in your kitchen, you’ll probably see a thick mat of grease floating in your trap. Floating grease isn’t an issue, but when it becomes too thick it can block your drain and cause issues.
Don’t let excess grease and oil block your sink and allow gray water to flood your kitchen floor. Find out how to spot the signs of a full commercial grease trap and why you need our services to assist you in keeping your kitchen clean and your drain working smoothly.
Signs You Need Grease Trap Cleaning Services
The easiest way to keep track of your trap is to schedule trap services. Most kitchens require servicing between 30 and 90 days. To create a more accurate schedule, contact our team at Ace Grease. We use the following factors to schedule cleaning services that fit your needs:
- Size of kitchen
- Amount of cooking oil, grease and fat
- Size of grease trap
If you aren’t sure the last time you had your trap cleaned, you can schedule a service and have one of our technicians inspect your trap and provide efficient cleaning. We’ll assist you in determining the amount of grease in your trap and setting a schedule for your next cleaning. Otherwise, look for these signs that your trap may be too full of grease, fat and oil:
- Sink drains slowly: The primary sign of a clogged drain is slow draining. Whether you see standing water in your sink or it simply drains slowly, it’s important to catch it before your grease trap becomes completely clogged.
- Full trap: A more accurate way to spot a grease trap issue is to check the depth of grease in your trap. Routinely inspect your trap to see if the solids fill more than 25% of the entire container. This is the limit enforced by the EPA for the health and safety of your commercial kitchen.
- Unpleasant odors: A restaurant or commercial kitchen is a place full of aromas. While some are more pleasant than others, a full grease trap is definitely an unpleasant odor. If the stench persists after you remove your kitchen trash and other food scraps, it’s time to clean your trap. Prevent a foul odor from becoming a health issue in your kitchen.
These are the most common signs that you need a grease cleaning service. If you find you’re cleaning your trap more frequently than 30 days or you’re experiencing drainage issues after a cleaning, talk to our technicians about a new grease trap or alternative services.
Benefits of Our Grease Trap Service
Enjoy a safe, healthy kitchen by following the EPA regulations regarding oil and grease disposal. When you choose to work with Ace Grease for your grease cleaning needs, you can enjoy a number of benefits.
First, you’ll prevent your kitchen from receiving fines or other penalties. Restaurants and commercial kitchens in St. Louis, Missouri are required to follow local regulations regarding grease removal. This includes limiting the amount of oil and other solids that exits through the sewer line. Choosing a local, reliable grease trap cleaning service prevents these fines and helps you keep your business in line with these regulations.
A grease trap is a warm, wet and dark environment. This encourages bacteria and other contaminants to grow. Routine cleaning keeps your workers safe and prevents rancid grease from affecting the health and safety of your kitchen.
If you’re simply letting grease go down the drain, it will soon catch up to you. A commercial kitchen pouring grease directly into the sewer system can cause a city-wide or community-wide clog. Not only will this interrupt our daily operation but it can come with serious fines if you’re found to be the cause of the damage.
When you work with a local service provider, you receive local, community-minded services. As a family-owned and -operated business, we provide quality services throughout the Midwest. Whether we’re down the road or across the state, our team works with you to keep your small business or major commercial kitchen operating efficiently to serve our community.
Dangers of DIY Trap Cleaning
Cleaning a trap on your own is possible, so many thrifty restaurant owners attempt to clean their own trap to avoid paying cleaning costs. Unfortunately, this process can be messy, dangerous and imprecise if you don’t have the proper tools and safety gear.
You will need to use a bucket or other container to remove the solid material from your grease trap. If your trap is 25% or more full this can take a large container. Once this is done, you’ll need to clear the remaining water and clean the interior of your trap.
Grease and fat quickly becomes rancid when sitting in your trap system. This can be a health hazard for you or any employee who attempts to clean the trap. Without the proper cleaning techniques, you may not completely remove all the solid materials. Inefficient cleaning means you may have to perform this unpleasant task more than every 30 days.
Skip all these time-consuming and unpleasant steps by working with a qualified professional. Our family-owned business can clean your trap in less time, which reduces downtime in your kitchen. We use safe and environmentally friendly techniques to carefully remove the waste while keeping your kitchen clean. Finally, we remove all spent grease and cooking oil to be recycled into valuable products.
Additional Grease and Oil Services
As a dynamic grease service company, we offer additional services to keep your kitchen clean and your sewer lines free from blockage. Learn how our line jetting and used oil pickup services can improve the efficiency of your kitchen and keep you focused on what makes you a successful business.
Even frequent grease trap cleaning isn’t always enough to keep your septic lines clear. Prevent grease, debris and other sludge from clogging your lines before or after your trap. Our state-of-the-art line jetting and cabling services clear your drainage system to keep your sinks running.
After removing solids from your trap and clearing your lines, you’ll be left with buckets of used oil and grease. You may also have leftover cooking oil from your fryers. We take all your used oil and grease to be recycled into products in the biodiesel, soap, plastic and livestock feed industries.
You don’t have to have a restaurant to enjoy our oil removal services. We work with penal institutions, hospitals, hotels, and food manufacturing plants to remove and recycle oil from their various facilities. Find out how you can enjoy affordable removal services that don’t require your time or energy.
Ask about any other grease services you may need or difficulties you may be having. We’ll work with you to find a solution to safely remove any spent oil, grease or fat from your kitchen. Don’t take up valuable storage space with waste products or spend time and money dealing with these byproducts. Our team works around your schedule to keep your kitchen clean and safe from rancid grease and spent oil.
Schedule Ace Grease Services Today
From a single truck to a nine-state fleet that serves a large part of the Midwest, our team at Ace Grease is constantly growing and looking for new ways to keep your kitchen operating successfully. We’re proud to be serving your area for over 27 years and plan to continue to provide our grease removal services for years to come.
Clean your kitchen, stay up to code and recycle your used items to keep your business environmentally friendly with our services. Contact us today at Ace Grease to schedule a service or learn more about our industry-leading quality. Stay ahead of the competition and focus on what matters most in your kitchen while we take care of your grease trap and spent oil.
All You Should Know About Grease Trap Services
As a restaurant owner, you do everything you can to keep business running smoothly. You have food delivery on a tight schedule. You keep your dish washers at the sink at all times. Your hosts and bussers are always in uniform and friendly to your customers. Your cooks and chefs have the highest training and are the best in the St. Louis area.
There are also a lot of things that require maintenance, from your kitchen grill to your restroom soap dispenser. Proper maintenance and other services help to ensure you’ll stay in business with components that work correctly. If you’ve never taken time to think about services that aren’t right in your face, there’s one we’d like to focus on today: Grease trap service.
What Is a Grease Trap and Why Should I Have It Serviced?
A grease trap is part of your overall plumbing system. It intercepts fats, oils and grease from your kitchen before they are able to enter your local sanitary sewer system. As wastewater exits your kitchen drains, it collects in the trap so the FOG can separate from the wastewater. Also known as grease capsules, recovery devices, converters and interceptors, they’re an important part of keeping your restaurant up to code and your systems functioning correctly.
Grease trap services are provided as a way to get rid of the FOG so you don’t have to. The professionals know what they are doing, and will ensure your restaurant is in good shape when it comes to the grease trap and drainage system.
Are There Different Types of Traps?
Because every commercial kitchen has different needs, there are different types of grease interceptors. They mainly work in the same way, allowing FOG to float to the top of the wastewater, but there are some differences you should be aware of. Understanding what type of interceptor you have can help you when it comes time for maintenance. The following are four types.
- Hydromechanical Grease Interceptors – HGIs are the devices typically referred to as grease traps. They are often located right beneath the kitchen sink or in a nearby floor. Over time, grease is collected, and they may need to be pumped once per week. Without a proper pumping when needed, your kitchen may not be in compliance with the regulations of a commercial kitchen.
- Gravity Grease Interceptors – Most GGIs are made from concrete, though there are some made from plastic, fiberglass or steel. As soon as the FOG reaches 25% of the contents in the GGI, it has to be pumped. Many commercial kitchen managers can go 90 days between pumping.
- Automatic Grease Recovery System – This type of trap skims the grease out of the interceptor and collects it into a container. While it sounds like less of a hassle, you do have to ensure it is working correctly and capable of doing the job. This requires regular inspections and maintenance.
- High Capacity Hydromechanical Grease Interceptor – High capacity HGIs can hold between 70% and 85% FOG in their fiberglass or plastic traps. The interceptor itself doesn’t take up as much space, but it holds more grease than other types. If you run a food truck or other small kitchen, a high capacity HGI is probably what you use.
Why Is Grease Trap Service Important to Business?
It’s easy to forget about your grease trap. It’s out of sight, and you have so much going on while running a busy restaurant, it will often slip your mind. The problem is that forgetting about the grease trap can put you in a lot of trouble in many ways. The following are some reasons you need to keep it at the top of the maintenance list.
- Compliance – Local and state restaurant codes require you have a grease trap cleaning regularly. Failure to comply with those codes could end you up in a civil lawsuit. Environmentalists could be watching, and once it’s discovered that you’ve missed a cleaning, they could come after you. It feels good to be upstanding and honest anyway, regardless of the possibility of a lawsuit, so complying with codes gives you that integrity.
- Avoiding Sewer Overflow – You already know how solidified grease clogs things up. Imagine that type of buildup getting into the drainage system of your restaurant, and eventually into the sanitary sewer system in St. Louis. You don’t want to be at the responsible end of a sewer system overflow, and one way to avoid that is with grease trap maintenance.
- Reducing Pollution – If your grease trap is poorly maintained, you could be responsible for pollution. If animals are able to get into your traps, they could become injured and sick from the actual FOG. This is why it’s important to keep your cover secure. Without a secure cover, rainwater can also get inside, which fills it too full and forces the grease out. Not only will it run down the storm drain and cause pollution in that way, it also grows bacteria and creates sulfuric acid, which can damage steel and concrete components that you have nearby.
Keep in mind you may have to provide proof of grease trap cleaning to a government agency. As soon as we clean your traps, we’ll put a report together, which will be available to you in as little as one day. The compliance report will contain information about the kind of condition your trap is in, as well as anything else necessary for you to know. This report can be shown to any government agency that asks for it.
How Often Should I Have My Traps Cleaned?
Because each commercial kitchen runs at a different capacity than the next, it’s important you speak with one of our technicians to understand how much FOG your trap will collect and how often it will need to be serviced. At the least, it should be cleaned every three months. If your restaurant is particularly small, or if you are only open for very limited hours, you may be able to get away with dragging out service for longer than 90 days, but be sure you’re not going against local and state codes.
If your restaurant runs at full capacity every day, and is quite busy, you might need to clean your traps more often. Depending on the size of the interceptor and the amount of FOG that is created, this could mean you have it cleaned once per week or once every month. Again, the most important thing is to understand your specific grease trap and what codes you are required to abide by.
What Can I Expect When Hiring a Professional?
You should never clean your grease trap on your own. While it may be tempting to just scoop out the grease, it needs to be disposed of properly, and safety measures should always be taken. The professionals have the right equipment, knowledge and licenses to ensure the job gets done correctly. When you hire the professionals for grease trap services, there are some things you should expect in them. Ace Grease services come with the following benefits.
- Experience – We have been in business for over 27 years and know about all the different types of grease traps. We have seen some of the most serious situations and have provided regular maintenance for various commercial kitchens in and around St. Louis, MO.
- Related Services – We understand that there are other services you may be in need of. In addition to grease trap service, we offer related services such as used cooking oil pickup, power washing, line jetting and cabling, and waste water hauling. Ace Grease offers discounts when you bundle services as well.
- Professionalism – With our experience comes unmatched professionalism. We do the job quickly, ensuring the area stays clean and our customers are satisfied. We sit down with each customer to come up with a customized service plan that will cater to their specific needs. We also strive to disrupt your business as little as possible by running our collection trucks at night.
- Availability – Available in 9 Midwest states, we know emergencies come up at the most inopportune times, which is why operators are always available to take your call. Day or night, weekday or weekend, we’re here for you because you matter to us.
- Responsibility – Not only are our employees responsible in how they conduct themselves on a regular basis, we are responsible as a company. Using only responsible recycling practices, we are committed to complying with environmental regulations and laws, as well as aiding in turning the recycled raw materials into products that make livestock feed, soap, plastic and biodiesel fuel.
Getting Your Services Scheduled Today
You can see there are some important reasons to have your grease traps cleaned. As a commercial kitchen manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure everything runs smoothly, and that includes scheduling grease trap services.
Whether you want Ace Grease to keep you on a regular schedule, or you trust yourself to contact us when the trap needs to be pumped, give us a call at 800-473-2733 and let’s discuss your options. Fill in our online form today to request and schedule service.
The Ins and Outs of Grease Trap Service for Commercial Kitchens
Cooking is a dirty business. Along with throwing out an estimated half-pound of food for every meal, restaurants and other commercial kitchens are up to their elbows in grease and liquid waste. Unlike most homeowners, however, they can’t get rid of it by pouring it into an empty can and tossing it into the garbage. Fats, oils and grease (FOGs) produced in commercial restaurants can’t be washed down the drain, either—there’s just too much of it. The need for timely grease trap service is obvious, or at least it should be.
Fats, Oils and Greases
Traps are essential in any commercial kitchen, whether it’s a restaurant, school cafeteria or the corner deli. Grease traps prevent FOGs from going down the drain, where they could wreak havoc on sewer lines throughout St. Louis, MO and other cities. If allowed to collect in pipes, FOGs can create problems nobody wants, including these:
- Foul odors
- Clogged pipes and sewers
- Constricted flow of wastewater
These problems can occur with any type of kitchen. With larger institutions and establishments, which produce a greater volume of FOGs, health departments require installation of grease traps to capture them and remove them from the system.
How Grease Traps Work
Grease traps come in different sizes to fit the needs of various businesses and institutions. Smaller traps may be connected to a single sink, while larger facilities need bigger traps for larger plumbing systems and the volume of wastewater it must handle. Essentially functioning as a plumbing fixture, a trap collects greasy water that, as it cools, allows FOGs to float to the top while food solids collect at the bottom. Larger traps require larger retention tanks that use gravity to separate FOGs and food solids over a longer length of time.
Trap designs incorporate baffles that help direct the water flow and aid in the separation of FOGs and food waste. To encourage the greatest separation of FOG from wastewater, a trap should have control devices that enable airflow to mix in with the contents. Once these components are separated, the wastewater continues on its way to the sewer. Traps should be emptied when the amount of sludge in them nears 25% of the tank’s capacity to ensure it continues to operate with maximum effectiveness.
Another option in grease traps is an automatic system. These traps are programmed to skim off FOGs on a regular schedule, which means the kitchen doesn’t have to keep tabs on the grease level or clean them out by hand. They are more complicated to install and are also more expensive than other passive systems but are certainly worth considering for smaller operations.
Size Matters in Grease Traps
Those who manage or own kitchens should seek guidance from a grease trap service and your local health department to ensure your trap meets your needs. If you choose a trap that’s too small, you will need to clean it more often to prevent FOGs from passing into the sewer system. One that is too large may cause sulfuric acid to develop in the tank, causing damage down the pipeline. Plumbing codes allow only garbage disposals to bypass the tank and have water flow directly into the drainage.
It is essential to monitor the level of grease in a trap. If allowed to collect beyond the tank’s one-quarter capacity, it becomes a thick sludge that may block the inlet and outlet pipes. That can cause backup flooding into the kitchen or parking lot of your business. If the sludge begins seeping through the outlet pipe and into the sewer pipes, you’ve got another type of mess altogether to worry about. Regardless of where it backs up, you may be in danger of violating health codes.
Limit What Goes Down the Drain
Savvy kitchens take steps to reduce the amount of FOGs that collect in their traps. Follow these simple guidelines for disposing of food waste, which can help ensure your trap continues to serve you well between grease trap cleanings.
- Scrape dishes of leftover food before washing.
- Never allow fryer oil or high-fat liquid down the drain.
- Be vigilant about the disposal of high-fat foods such as sauces, salad dressings and butter.
If your kitchen equipment includes a deep fryer, rotisserie, or runoff from a grill, you should engage the services of a professional oil recycling company, which can supply a bin for oil collection. Train your kitchen staff to dump these oils into the bin for regular recycling.
To Clean or Not to Clean?
Some kitchens may consider handling grease trap cleaning themselves. Larger grease traps are typically located outside, near the kitchen’s dishwashing area, and may be mistaken for a manhole cover. In cold climates, the trap may be located in the building’s basement, beneath the kitchen, where it is protected from freezing temperatures. In some cases, traps are inside, beneath a sink in a special crate or concealed beneath the floor and accessible through metal flashing.
Larger traps can range in size from 500 gallons to 2,500 gallons. Despite the size of your grease trap, large or small, grease trap maintenance is not an easy job. Plus, the material is environmentally sensitive, so you may need to obtain a septage hauler license in order to dispose of it. All of these are good reasons to hire a professional service to handle this particular task.
Cleaning Tools You Will Need
For those who are not put off by any of the above reasons and still want to tackle the job themselves, the first step is to gather the right tools and any needed permits. Many of these items you may already have on hand.
- Industrial vacuum: Also known as a Shop-Vac, you can use this vacuum to pump out liquid waste and grease.
- Crowbar or wrench: Depending on the trap, you need one of these tools to remove the tank lid, which may be bolted in place. Some tanks are molded plastic, and can be snapped into and out of place.
- Hand scraper: Scrapers come in a range of sizes; get one with a wider blade to scrape grease and sludge from the baffles and bottom of the tank.
- Coveralls: This is a messy job, and you’re almost guaranteed to get some on your clothes. Wear coveralls to protect your clothing.
- Rubber gloves: Again, you’re cleaning out grease, which is a messy job. Gloves will also help you keep a good grip on the components while you’re cleaning them.
Grease traps in general should be cleaned every four to six weeks. Some cities will set the frequency with which you need to clean them.
First, turn off the kitchen dishwasher and water to the sinks to prevent water flow while you’re cleaning the trap. Wait to begin cleaning until the water in the tank has had time to cool. This lets the FOGs rise to the top and makes your job easier. Follow these steps for grease trap cleaning:
- Remove the trap lid carefully, mindful of the gaskets beneath it; if damaged, you’ll need to replace them with new ones.
- Vacuum off the FOGs on top entirely before moving on to the water and food waste.
- Scrape grease off of the baffles, sides of the trap and underside of the lid.
- Check for large pieces of FOGs or waste that may be stuck; use the vacuum to ensure you get everything.
- Clean the trap using soap and hot water; use a pot scrubber to clean all the components, then rinse thoroughly.
- Run a quick test on the drain pipes by allowing a gallon of fresh water to flow from a kitchen sink. If water does not come through, there is a clog in your pipe; call a plumber.
- Reinstall the trap and its components, and dispose of the grease properly.
To dispose of the waste in the vacuum, you can add kitty litter to make it a solid and put it in a garbage bag. Seal the bag and place in your Dumpster for disposal.
When to Replace a Trap
A grease trap can last several years with proper maintenance, including timely removal of FOGs and waste and thorough cleanings on a regular basis. If you begin to notice bad odors in the kitchen, have trouble getting the tank and its components clean or it backs up repeatedly, consider replacing it. Don’t take a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to grease trap maintenance; it could cost you dearly in business image, as well as fines for health violations, plus the costs of needed repair.
Contact Ace Grease for Grease Trap Service
A grease trap needs to contain a large volume of water to work correctly and allow separation of the FOGs. That’s where the 25% rule comes in; when FOGs reach that level, it’s time to have them removed by a professional service. Ace Grease is the one to call for grease trap service as needed or for scheduled pickups and maintenance. Our family-owned business also collects used cooking oil from a variety of plants, restaurants, hotels and more. Contact us online or by calling 800-473-2733.
FOG, Fatbergs and Grease Trap Maintenance
Every business or organization that serves food must have a grease trap for the kitchen sink. Examples of places where grease traps are found include restaurants, hotels, bakeries, food processing facilities, grocery stores, hospitals, schools and many other types of businesses, and while grease traps may be out of sight, they should never be out of mind. Grease traps are a safety mechanism protecting people, facilities and the environment.
Any place providing food service is required by wastewater agencies and treatment facilities to have grease traps installed, and to follow local, state and federal (EPA) standards for the cleaning and maintenance of commercial grease traps. A Lack of proper grease trap installation and/or maintenance can lead to hefty fees and fines (up to $50,000 per day), as well as pose a danger to the environment and to workers. Regular grease trap service is essential to proper, and safe, grease trap function.
How Grease Traps Work
Larger traps are located outside and can be above ground or underground. They typically have capacities of 750 to 2,000 gallons. Smaller traps are located inside under 3-compartment sinks or near them. They typically have capacities of 25 to 100 gallons. Grease traps prevent FOG (fats, oils and grease) from entering sewer lines.
The trap serves as a filter by separating fats, oils and grease from wastewater. Grease and oils float to the top of the trap and food particles sink to the bottom, leaving only the wastewater to flow into the sewer lines. This is important because if FOG enters the sewer system, the buildup can result in a phenomenon called “fatbergs” which are large deposits of congealed FOG that can clog the lines and cause serious plumbing issues. Since these sewer lines are part of community shared drainage systems, the potential plumbing issues can affect anyone, not just the business.
Sources of FOG that Cause Fatbergs
- Food scraps
- Meat fats
- Cooking oils
- Baking products
- Dairy products
When commercial grease traps are not cleaned properly, they can contribute to sanitary sewer overflow. This is different from combined sewers in that sanitary sewers are specifically for the collection and transportation of industrial wastewater to treatment facilities. Overflows of sanitary sewers can be caused by many factors, one of which is blockage. One cause of this blockage is FOG released with the wastewater forming fatbergs. Such overflows can create a serious public health hazard. It’s important to remember that problems with your grease trap can affect the entire community.
Consequences of Infrequent Grease Trap Service
When grease trap cleaning isn’t performed regularly, consequences range from strong odors to sanitary sewer overflow. Other consequences include these:
- Regulatory fees and fines
- Clogged drains
- Blocked pipes
- Excess FOG making cleaning more difficult
- Overflowing floor drains
- Restricted water flow
Clogged grease traps can lead to business closure and loss of customers and revenue, not to mention legal action in the form of fines and repayment of costs incurred by municipalities to repair damage. Regular maintenance is the key to avoiding these consequences and to top grease trap performance. This means proper daily maintenance and frequent professional trap services.
Signs Grease Traps Need Cleaning
The best way to avoid unexpected problems and to tell when grease traps need cleaning is to regularly monitor the levels and cleanliness. Even if you have a regularly scheduled professional cleaning, problems can occur that require immediate grease trap service. Here are six signs your grease traps need cleaning right away.
- Slow drainage: Full or clogged grease traps can cause sinks to drain slowly.
- Foul Smell: Large amounts of fats, oils, grease and food particles decomposing in the grease trap can produce unpleasant smells indicating you may need more frequent trap cleaning services.
- Full Trap: The EPA states that grease traps must be cleaned when the level of food particles equals 25 percent of the wastewater depth in the trap.
- Overflow: Clogged grease traps may lead to grease escaping into sinks, pipes, floor drains or any other possible exit. Escaped grease can cause slippery walking surfaces and pose a danger to employees and customers.
- Water flow: The water in the grease trap should flow freely into the sewer line. If the water isn’t moving, the trap needs cleaning.
- 6. Manhole overflow: Water overflowing from a manhole could be a sign of a clogged grease trap. If the cause of the overflow is traced back your facility, you are financially responsible for damage and clean-up up.
Finally, if you can’t remember the last time the grease trap was cleaned, it’s time to schedule a cleaning service.
Proper Care of Grease Traps
How often grease traps are cleaned depends on trap size, amount of grease produced and/or local ordinances which vary from state to state and city to city. Cleaning grease traps at least once a quarter (every 3 months) is recommended, but some cities require once a month cleaning.
The average lifespan of a metal grease trap is five to 12 years. Properly maintained grease traps have a longer life expectancy, and the better you maintain your grease trap, the better your grease trap will perform. The following are some things you can do to help maintain your grease traps.
- Recycle cooking oil instead of pouring it down the drain.
- Scrape food remnants off plates and dispose of them in the trash before washing the dishes (disposals empty into the trap causing them to need more frequent maintenance).
- Rinse greasy plates and utensils in cold water (this solidifies grease causing it to sink to the bottom of the trap more easily).
- Avoid cleaning the trap with bleach, enzymes or chemicals (these can liquefy FOG allowing it to enter the wastewater system, and it can kill beneficial bacteria).
- Empty grease traps when they are one-fourth full.
- Remove the FOG and the sludge layer.
- Monitor FOG levels in grease traps closely.
- Use biodegradable detergents.
- Keep use of chlorine products to a minimum.
- Install strainers in sinks
While these tips don’t negate the need for professional grease trap services (you should still have grease traps cleaned regularly by a reliable, professional service provider), following these basic guidelines can keep your grease trap performing its best and lengthen its lifespan.
Benefits of Keeping Grease Traps Clean
While cutting corners to save time, like using the garbage disposal instead of scraping or adding enzymes, may be tempting, doing so can cause serious problems with grease trap function. There are many good reasons to take time for grease trap maintenance:
- Healthier more sustainable work environment.
- Lower risk of pollution.
- No unpleasant odors.
- Less risk of blockage.
- Counters toxic compound build-up.
- Improved safety in commercial kitchens.
- Money saved on emergency upkeep and repairs.
In the long run, having grease traps professionally cleaned will save money on repairing and replacing poorly maintained grease traps.
Professional Grease Trap Services
So, what exactly does a professional grease trap service entail? Professional trap services involve removing food particles and waste grease from grease traps. This is especially important for larger traps and traps that are underground. Professionals with the right training and experience as well as the proper tools and equipment can clean grease traps safely and correctly. They are also equipped to dispose of the accumulated waste appropriately per hazardous materials disposal regulations.
A professional grease trap service technician usually arrives in the morning, when the grease is cool, and pumps out the contents of the grease trap. Then, they scrape away all the accumulated FOG from the sides of the trap. Afterward, they determine how much FOG has accumulated since the last cleaning by measuring the pumped contents. If the accumulation is more than 25 percent, they will recommend more frequent cleanings. Finally, a reputable, professional grease trap service will also provide you with a manifest that states the size of the grease trap, the amount of FOG removed from the trap and where the materials from the trap will be disposed of. These manifests should be saved because they serve as the store’s proof of compliance and create a trail to ensure the waste is disposed of legally.
In addition to grease trap cleaning, some trap services also offer line jetting. The line jetting process uses high-pressure water to clean drains and water lines. It effectively breaks up sludge and removes grease to ensure lines flow freely. Having this service performed annually from the inside of the building to the grease trap ensures grease and food particles adhering to the inside of the pipes are cleared thus preventing slow drainage and possible backups.
Grease Trap Service in St. Louis MO
St. Louis MO business owners can save time and money in the long run by having grease traps cleaned by experienced professionals like those at Ace Grease. With more than 20 years of experience, Ace offers technicians who are current on all city and municipality compliance regulations, competitive pricing, and 24-hour emergency service. Save even more by bundling services like grease trap cleaning, line jetting and used cooking oil recycling. Call Ace Grease today at 800-473-2733 to schedule your grease trap service.
Maintenance Cleaning Tips for Grease Traps
Recently, you opened your own restaurant, fulfilling a lifelong dream. You’re eager to serve up sumptuous meals and memories to your guests, but you’ve got to have the proper kitchen equipment to do so. Understandably, cleaning and maintaining your grease trap isn’t the most exciting aspect of operating a restaurant, but it is essential. Ace Grease has you covered with grease trap cleaning and maintenance tips. Let us help you keep your trap fully operational for as long as possible.
Occasionally, inspect your grease trap to make sure it’s trapping grease rather than letting it leak through. The only time you should have a spotless trap is after you clean it. Otherwise, it may mean you have grease leaking through the device. Did your restaurant come with a trap, or did you have a new one installed? Either way, have a professional size the equipment to ensure it’s the right size for your restaurant’s needs.
Garbage disposals are great in a residential space, but they can be more trouble than they’re worth in a commercial kitchen. Resist your instinct to use your restaurant’s garbage disposal. Instead, throw as much refuse into the trash as possible. You only want grease going down your trap, not food waste and sludge. This also means that you must let your staff know how vital it is that they rinse and scrape off dishes before placing them into the dishwasher.
All of your establishment’s floor drains, sinks and dishwashers need top-quality filters in them. Filters help keep solid waste such as fat, oils and grease from finding its way into your grease traps. You and your employees may not enjoy cleaning out filters, but it’s preferable to dealing with a clogged trap.
You likely already know not to pour grease directly down the train, but it’s a warning worth repeating. Do not make the mistake of thinking a trap can endure a direct stream of grease. It’s better to pour all your grease into a metal container and recycle it.
Think twice about using commercial products such as detergents, enzymes and solvents to dissolve grease. Most of them only divide water from grease before moving it all down your plumbing. Such products may clog up the wastewater system or line. Also, using certain solvents, enzymes and similar products may be against the law in your city.
For trap cleaning, your geographic location may have laws for how often you must scrub your equipment. Fail to follow the latest regulations and you may face an avoidable fine. Usually, establishments must clean their traps every 90 days, but it may be as many as every 60 days in your neighborhood.
Whether you can clean your restaurant’s commercial grease trap yourself depends on the size. You or authorized staff may clean a small trap, but anything ranging in size between 500 and 2,500 gallons requires a professional cleaning service. Even if you can take care of the task on your own, it doesn’t hurt to allow an expert to handle the job occasionally, so you can watch and ensure you’re using the latest and most effective cleaning methods.
During cleaning, use cool water so all oils, fat and grease float to the surface. Allow hot wastewater from sinks and dishwashers to cool. Gently pry off the grease tank cover, so you do not damage the gasket. You may need to use a crowbar. Once you have the cover off, you’ll see all oil, grease and fat in the trap, which you can remove with a scoop. After draining all gunk, you may have residual water and solids. Use a shop vac to suck up the remnants, turning off the dishwasher and discontinuing all sink usage beforehand so the trap does not fill during cleaning.
Now you’re ready to clean off the trap’s lid, baffles and sides with dish soap, a steel scrubber and lukewarm water. Finish by rinsing the trap a few times with fresh water. Repeat the process every four to six weeks.
Interested in learning more about grease trap maintenance or cleaning? Perhaps you’d rather have an expert take proper care of your restaurant’s equipment. Either way, the experienced technicians of Ace Grease can help. Learn more about our services, including used cooking oil pickup and line jetting, by filling out and submitting a contact form.
The Importance of Grease Trap Cleaning
Taking care of your business is part of our business, as we are a family-owned and operated grease trap system and cleaning service for the greater St Louis MO area. Each year, millions of dollars are spent trying to unclog sewer pipes from the fat, grease and oil blockages. Your kitchen operations may be running smoothly above the surface, but without proper trap cleaning and routine plumbing service on your pipes, things below will come to a grinding and costly halt.
Protect a Valuable Asset
When you look around your commercial kitchen, you may see the ovens, refrigeration systems and other daily-use equipment as key assets. You may not realize how important your grease trap is until it starts to malfunction and fill your space with unpleasant odors. In addition to these challenges, you could face heavy fines for improper disposal and maintenance of the fats, greases and oils that are collected during the cooling process. A commercial grease trap should be at the top of the list for the kitchen’s most valuable asset.
It is estimated that the average restaurant will produce between 800 to 17,000 pounds of grease per year. This includes the brown greases that float before hardening to a solid or the yellow grease often produced during deep frying. Either substance carries a devastating environmental impact when it isn’t disposed of properly. Proper grease trap maintenance is the start of a positive impact strategy.
Keep Equipment in Prime Condition
There is a lot riding on your kitchen grease trap. From the interior traps inside the kitchen all the way through the sanitary sewer pipes, it is critical to ensure each element is in prime condition to avoid a negative impact on your operations and the likelihood of a sewer overflow. We know the impact of proper maintenance and cleaning, and Ace Grease provides top-notch cleaning of grease traps on a regular basis or on an as-needed occurrence. We can also clear your drain lines of sludge and grease to prevent blockages. Here’s what you should know about grease trap cleaning.
1. Clean the Trap on a Regular Basis
Almost 47% of sewer blockages in restaurants and industrial buildings come from accumulated grease. As fats oils and grease are sent down the drain, these elements (or FOG as it’s called) will start to buildup along the sides of the drain. Though much of the FOG will rise to the top of the tank, eventually, the water will have a harder time making it through the pipes, causing the grease trap to fill up. Rather than having to call a plumber for emergency service to stop a sewage backup, regularly scheduling a trap cleaning will prevent overflow.
Regular cleaning also makes sure that any grease accumulation is taken care of before it starts to smell and causes odor issues with your customers and employees. Our technicians are able to spot a potential problem long before it becomes a concern, saving you time and money on expensive repairs or lost business.
2. Establish Your Cleaning Frequency
Though it should be cleaned regularly, you may not know how often to call on Ace Grease for service. The amount of grease that is used during your daily operations and how large your trap is are two primary factors to consider. There may be requirements set by your local ordinances that require your trap to remain below 25% FOG buildup. Our technician can take a look at your trap and help you establish a good maintenance schedule, but it is common for busy restaurants to have the trap cleaned once a month or once a quarter.
3. Avoid Self-Cleaning Ideas
In an effort to save money, you may be thinking about trying to clean your grease trap yourself. While there are some pieces of equipment that come with a small grease trap, don’t try to DIY the larger units for your restaurant. Cleaning a grease trap requires the proper equipment, protective gear and a knowledge of how the system works. Improper cleaning is just as bad as failing to clean the trap at all.
Call the Experts
At Ace Grease, we make taking care of your grease traps one of the easiest business decisions you will ever make. Call us today at 800-473-2733 to have one of our expert technicians assess your grease trap and give it a good cleaning.