Proper grease trap maintenance is essential for any commercial kitchen to stay compliant with regulations, prevent plumbing disasters, and maintain a clean work environment. Neglected grease traps can lead to major issues like drain clogs, rancid odours, and potential health hazards for staff and customers.
This comprehensive guide will provide restaurants and commercial kitchens with everything needed to maintain grease traps and uphold safety standards effectively. Learning proper cleaning, inspection, and best practices will optimise grease trap operation, reduce FOG (fats, oils, and grease) build-up, and prevent expensive plumbing repairs.
Ready to learn how to maintain grease traps? Let’s get started!
What Are Grease Traps?
A grease trap is a plumbing device designed to intercept fats, oils, and grease (FOG) waste from the kitchen before entering the main sewer system. Grease traps separate and contain grease and solid food particles while allowing wastewater to flow through. Proper grease trap sizing and installation are essential based on the kitchen’s volume and configuration.
Commercial kitchens typically have large, automatic grease trap tanks outdoors, compared to smaller traps in residential kitchen sinks. Regular grease trap cleaning prevents blockages from FOG build-up that can clog drains and damage pipes. Local regulations often dictate grease trap requirements to protect municipal sewer systems.
Different Types Of Commercial Grease Traps
Passive grease traps
Uses gravity to separate and collect waste FOG in a tank. Requires frequent manual cleaning.
Automatic grease traps
Removes FOG using a skimmer, pump, and control timer for more effective maintenance.
Single compartment trap
One tank compartment allows wastewater to cool, separating grease that floats to the top.
Multiple compartment trap
Two or more chambers provide enhanced grease separation for high-volume kitchens.
Regular Cleaning and Maintenance
Step 1: Determine Cleaning Frequency
Assess kitchen usage and local regulations to establish proper cleaning frequency, typically every 2-4 weeks. This prevents excessive grease build-up.
Step 2: Pump Out Contents
Using a vacuum truck, pump all wastewater and grease contents from the trap into suitable drums for proper disposal later.
Step 3: Thoroughly Clean Interior
Using scrapers, hot water, and scrubbers, thoroughly remove all thick grease, fats, oils, food waste, and sediment from the trap walls and floor.
Step 4: Inspect Components
Closely inspect baffles, air relief valves, piping, and other internal parts. Look for any damage or issues needing replacement.
Step 5: Make Any Needed Repairs
Replace any worn or damaged internal trap components to ensure proper ongoing operation.
Step 6: Refill with Fresh Water
After cleaning, refill the empty grease trap with fresh water to the proper level before putting it back into service.
Step 7: Follow Grease Disposal Regulations
Never dump evacuated grease and solids down drains or sewers. Arrange proper disposal following local regulatory requirements.
Step 8: Conduct Routine Inspections
In addition to cleaning, regularly inspect the exterior and interior of the trap for any leaks, cracks, or other maintenance needs.
Step 9: Document Service History
Keep detailed logs of each cleaning and inspection. Track grease volumes, issues, repairs, and disposal.
Step 10: Stick to Schedule
Maintain cleaning frequency consistently to prevent grease-related plumbing emergencies.
Inspection and Troubleshooting
In addition to regular maintenance, inspect grease traps routinely to identify issues early. Floating grease or solids in the outlet means the trap is faulty and letting fats, oils, and grease (FOG) through.
Foul odours indicate excess grease from inadequate cleaning. Slow drains or water pooling points to blockages from trap leaks. Visible grease in fixtures shows the trap is not functioning properly. Leaks around pipes or lids need sealing.
Thorough, regular inspections and prompt maintenance keep traps working effectively. Comprehensive cleanings and repairs can resolve minor issues. However, recurring or major problems likely need professional plumbers.
Catching problems quickly saves restaurants money and headaches. Consistent inspection and scheduled cleaning provide the best protection against grease-related plumbing disasters.
For minor grease trap issues, take these troubleshooting steps:
- Remove all grease and solids, examine components, and repair as needed. Increase cleaning frequency.
- If drains are slow, plunge sinks and use a drain cleaner to open pipes. Avoid harsh chemicals that harm traps.
- Replace broken interior parts like baffles. Tighten or reseal fittings and lids, causing leaks.
- Adjust traps that are undersized by plumbing in additional pretreatment equipment.
- For recurring or major issues, engage a professional plumbing service experienced in commercial grease trap repairs and maintenance.
Best Practices for Grease Management
Prevent excessive FOG from entering the system by installing sink strainers, thoroughly scraping plates, and removing remaining grease and food residue before washing. Allow hot grease to cool and solidify before disposal to avoid pipe damage. Post clear signage reminding staff not to pour oils, fats, or grease down drains.
Use a commercial dishwasher’s highest heat settings to dissolve more grease. Let degreasing soap soak heavily soiled pans before washing. Wipe away as much grease residue as possible into a container for proper disposal before hand washing cookware. Collect unused cooking oils, trimmings, and drippings in grease bins, not down drains.
Proper training is key to changing disposal habits. Ensure staff understand the costly damage of letting FOG flow down drains. Implement protocols and training on grease disposal and trap maintenance compliance. Bring in professional services for kitchens with high grease volumes. Licensed experts follow environmental practices for grease evacuation and disposal.
Keep Your Kitchen Compliant and Clog-Free
Effective grease trap maintenance requires staying vigilant with thorough cleaning, routine inspections, implementing best practices that minimise grease discharge, and addressing any issues promptly. Well-serviced traps keep commercial kitchens in compliance, optimise drainage systems, and prevent expensive plumbing emergencies from arising.
Don’t wait until major clogs or backups happen - be preventative. Contact the experts at WP Plumbing in Melbourne to set up a customised grease trap maintenance plan tailored to your specific kitchen needs and compliance requirements. Our experienced team specialises in professional trap services, repairs, and installations and has the proper equipment and training for safe, efficient grease removal.
Get in touch today to schedule an inspection and discuss grease trap solutions that keep your establishment running smoothly.
Grease Trap FAQs
What is the preventative maintenance of a grease trap?
Preventative grease trap maintenance involves regular inspection and cleaning to remove accumulated grease and solids, ensuring optimal performance and preventing clogs and backups.
How often should you maintain a grease trap?
The frequency of grease trap maintenance depends on factors such as the size of the trap, the volume of grease generated, and local regulations. Generally, grease traps should be maintained at least once every three months, but more frequent maintenance may be necessary for high-volume kitchens.
How often should a home grease trap be cleaned?
Regular cleaning is recommended for a home grease trap every three to six months. However, the cleaning frequency may vary based on the amount of grease generated and the usage patterns in the kitchen.
How do you treat a grease trap?
To treat a grease trap, remove any solid debris using a steel pot scrubber or strainer to prevent clogs. Then, using an environmentally friendly grease trap cleaning product, pour it into the trap and let it sit for a recommended amount of time. Afterwards, flush the trap with room temperature and boiling water to help dissolve and remove the grease. Regular inspection and cleaning and proper grease disposal are essential for effective grease trap maintenance.