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Complete Guide for Cleaning Grease Traps in Commercial Kitchens

Every restaurateur, grocery store owner, and supervisor of commercial food establishments knows the importance of cleaning the grease trap. Although removing the accumulation of fats, oils, and grease (FOG) is an unpleasant task, it is essential—and must be done regularly.

Grease traps serve a very important purpose, preventing FOG from being washed down the drain. If FOG gets washed down the drain, it can cause damage to the plumbing and sewer systems and pollute the natural environment. Commercial kitchens are required to have grease traps to prevent this and businesses can be subject to fines and other disciplinary action for violations.

Commercial kitchens are required to have grease traps to prevent this and the local government may impose fines and other disciplinary action for violations.

When FOG accumulates in grease traps, they need to be regularly cleaned. Too much accumulation can lead to kitchen flooding and FOG being washed down the drain. Fortunately, cleaning the grease trap is relatively straightforward, requiring only average physical stamina for the few minutes needed to complete this vital chore.

To get started, arm yourself with the right gear:

  • Rubber gloves – to protect your hands
  • Nose plug or gas mask – to defend against noxious odors
  • Protective coveralls – to prevent FOG from soiling your clothing
  • Crowbar and wrench – to lift off the grease trap lid
  • Scraper – to clean the tank
  • Shop vacuum – to suction out the FOGs

1. Find the Grease Trap Location

Grease traps are on food establishments’ premises, either outdoors or indoors. Outdoor traps may be identified by their manhole covering or septic tank design. When a grease trap is situated indoors, it is in the restaurant’s basement (directly beneath the kitchen), under the kitchen sink, or under a metal flashing in the kitchen flooring.

When you’ve spotted the grease trap, determine its physical size. Observing the tank’s capacity gives you a better idea of whether to hire a professional or clean the grease trap yourself. Grease traps between 500 – 2500 gallons require professional equipment and training. Smaller grease traps may be cleaned by permitted restaurant staff.

2. Work with Cool Water

Cold water allows the fats, oils, and grease to float to the top. Wait ten minutes once the hot wastewater has been released from the dishwasher or sink and cools.

Access the notorious fats, oils, and grease by carefully prying off the grease tank cover. A delicate and critical component, known as the gasket, can be damaged if you attempt to lift off the cover without precaution. The crowbar comes in handy at this point, unless the grease trap cover is bolted down. You’ll have an easier time if the grease trap features a molded plastic lid, which readily snaps off.

You’ll be met with a two-inch thick layer of grease sludge. Remove the floating FOG with a scoop. Once the FOG is lifted out of the tank, water and leftover food solids will remain. A powerful shop vac is useful in removing the residual solids and water. Be sure the automatic dishwasher is turned off and the sinks are not in use to prevent the grease trap from continually filling up while you are working.

The most critical task is complete, up to this point. The next duty is to scrape off the trap’s baffles, sides, and lid. Using the shop vac, suction out any solidified grease particles that may be lodged in the recesses of the trap. For a thorough cleaning, utilize the shop vacuum to suck out any lingering FOG from the grease trap.

Next, refresh the grease trap and free the tank from obnoxious odors with a little elbow grease, a steel pot scrubber, dish soap, and tepid water. Thoroughly scrub down the grease trap’s baffles, sides, and lid. Flush out the soap and debris a few times using clean water. You’re left with a sparkling clean grease trap—one you should have every four to six weeks.

Now that the most laborious part of the chore is done, test your handiwork. Essentially, you want to ensure the grease trap is free from all traces of FOG and that blockages do not prevent water from easily draining. From the kitchen sink, drain a gallon of clean water. The grease trap should allow the water to flow through without impediment. If a blockage exists, contact a licensed plumber to remedy the obstruction. Reinstall the parts of the grease trap, including the baffle and lid.

3. Properly Dispose of the Collected Fats, Oils, and Greases

Put FOG from your traps in double-lined garbage bags and throw them away at the local dumpster if the quantity of FOG is small. A well-known tip is to mix the FOG from the shop vacuum with kitty litter to help solidify the grease particles. Large amounts of grease trap sludge should be disposed of by professional grease trap companies.

As mentioned, grease traps should be cleaned every four to six weeks, at the least. Bacteria additives, which organically break down the waste, may be used to lessen the cleaning frequency. Beware of using hot water flushes or products featuring solely enzymes—as these products liquefy the FOG, sending them down the drain and into the municipal sewer lines.

Grease Trap Cleaning from Mahoney

If you have a large grease trap or prefer a professional service to handle this crucial restaurant task, trust the experts at Mahoney Environmental. Specializing in grease trap cleaning, Mahoney Environmental caters to the maintenance needs of a diverse range of businesses, including restaurants of all sizes, school cafeterias, airports, stadiums, hotels, and hospitals.

Ensure that your food establishment complies with local grease trap maintenance ordinances by scheduling regular cleanings with Mahoney Environmental. Our skilled technicians will conduct thorough cleanings and repairs as needed, using the right tools to reach even the most challenging areas. We provide detailed reports to help you manage your grease trap cleaning schedule effectively. Additionally, Mahoney Environmental ensures all grease trap waste is disposed of properly, adhering to municipal and state regulations.

With over seven decades of dedicated service to the food industry, Mahoney Environmental is ready to address any grease trap issues swiftly. Trust the experts at Mahoney Environmental for all your grease trap maintenance needs.

Related Articles:
Understanding Your Greases Trap
Difference Between Grease Traps and Grease Interceptors
Restaurant Grease Trap Cleaning FAQs

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