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Plumbing Emergencies in Food Service Establishments: Dealing with Backups

In restaurants and other food service establishments, there are many potential problems that can occur that can interrupt business.  One of the biggest problems a restaurant may face is a plumbing emergency that results in a backup.  Backups in the sinks, floor drains, and restrooms can cause considerable damage to your property and they can also be dangerous if the water is mixed with grease, sewage, and other waste.  Your establishment will likely experience business interruptions because of a major backup and the repairs can be costly, resulting in a loss of revenue.

It is important to know what to do if a backup occurs in your commercial kitchen so you can help limit the damage and the interruption to your business.  You should also take the necessary precautions to prevent backups such as keeping up with grease trap cleaning and fixing any issues you notice with your drains and plumbing system right away.

This guide will help you react to different types of backups in your food service establishment to help limit the damage and losses.

Sink Backups

commercial sink backing upThe sinks are crucial for maintaining the cleanliness of a commercial kitchen and taking care of important tasks like washing dishes.  They are also vulnerable to backups that can quickly flood your kitchen.  If your sink backs up, follow these steps to unclog the sink before it causes flooding:

  • Try to remove the clog by plunging the sink.
  • If your sink has more than one basin, have someone cover the drains with rags while you plunge each drain one by one.
  • Start by plunging the sink that is closest to the drain in the wall or floor.
  • If you cannot remove the clog by plunging, stop using your sink and call a professional that can remove the clog with rotting or jetting.

You can prevent backups in the sinks in your kitchen with the following tips:

  • Use non-removable screens over the sink drains.
  • Keep your grease traps cleaned and maintained to prevent grease and oils from getting into the drains.

Floor Drain Backups

The floor drains in your commercial kitchen are essential for allowing the water that is drained to make its way out of your kitchen and into the sewer system.  A backup of the floor drain can cause the kitchen floor to flood and the water will likely be mixed with grease and oils.  If one of your floor drains backs up, follow these steps:

  • Make sure the backup is only in one floor drain.
  • Check the lowest drain first, this is usually the first drain to backup.
  • If you have only one drain that is backed up, put a water hose into the drain and turn it on to try to blow through the clog with the water. This could dislodge the buildup.
  • When doing this, put towels around the hose while it is in the drain to prevent splash back.
  • Instead of using a hose, you can try to plunge the floor drain or dislodge the clog with a hand auger.
  • Do not put sticks or poles into the drain because you can damage the bottom of the p-trap and cause a bigger mess.
  • If none of these methods remove the clog, call a professional right away to rod or jet the drain.

You can prevent floor drain backups by doing the following:

  • Use non-removable screens and small holes so no debris can leave the drain and get into the pipe.
  • Have your grease traps cleaned and rodded regularly to prevent debris buildup.

Backups in All Floor Drains

Professional Grease Trap CleaningIf all of the floor drains are backed up at once, it is most likely due to a problem with your grease traps.  Make sure you take the following steps if you have a backup in every floor drain:

  • Check your grease trap first to see if it is backing up.
  • If the water level in your grease trap is above the outlet fitting, then the outlet pipe is likely clogged and needs to be rodded.
  • If this is the case, call a professional to rod the outlet pipe of the grease trap.

The best way to prevent a major problem like this is to work with a professional like Mahoney Environmental to have your grease traps cleaned and maintained on a regular basis.  Our professionals will set up regularly scheduled maintenance to ensure that your grease traps are clean and in good repair.  Our grease trap maintenance services include rodding and jetting to remove clogs before they can cause a backup.

Restroom Backups

Restroom backups can be dangerous because the water that backs up is usually mixed with waste.  The first thing you need to do to address a backup in the restroom is figure out what is backing up.  The backup could come from a toilet, sink, or floor drain.  The source of the backup will determine your next steps:

  • Check the floor drain first and if it is not backing up, then the toilets are the problem. Use a plunger or auger to remove the clog in the toilet.
  • Sinks and urinals need to be rodded if they are backing up. It is best to have a professional rod clogged restroom sinks and urinals.
  • It is possible for a blockage in the main sewer to cause a backup in the restroom. When this happens, you need to call a plumber to deal with the situation.

You can help prevent backups in your restrooms with the following tips:

  • Make sure there is a container in the women’s room for feminine hygiene products, so they are not flushed. These products can clog the pipes and cause a backup.
  • Use drain covers for the urinals.
  • Put non-removable screens on the drains in the restrooms. This will prevent debris from mopping from getting into the drain and eventually causing a backup.

Prevent Plumbing Emergencies with Grease Trap Cleaning Services

Plumbing emergencies can cause a major disruption to your food service business.  Backups may cause significant, costly damage and even put your business out of commission until the problem is resolved.  The best way to avoid backups is to work with a professional like Mahoney Environmental to provide regular grease trap cleaning and maintenance.

Our professionals at Mahoney Environmental provide regular scheduled grease trap services to ensure that your establishment’s grease traps are free of clogs and debris and are in good repair.  If we find an issue, we can rod or jet your grease traps to remove clogs that can lead to a backup.  We are also available 24 hours a day for emergency services.

Give us a call at (800) 892-9392 for more about our grease trap cleaning and maintenance services.

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