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How to Deal with Grease Trap Inspections

In every commercial kitchen, it is very important that the cooking oil is handled with care.  The cooking oil must be transported, used, and stored safely to prevent injuries in the workplace and keep the kitchen sanitary.  It is also important to protect the natural environment from used cooking oil and grease as allowing these substances to wash down the drain can have damaging effects on the sewer system.

Grease traps are installed in commercial kitchens to prevent fats, oil, and grease from being washed down the drain.  It is very important for the grease traps in your kitchen to be cleaned and maintained regularly so they can continue to effectively filter the oil and grease from the wastewater.  Failure to maintain your grease traps can result in overflows and foul odors in your kitchen and allow these substances to be washed down the drain and reach the sewer system.  If there is a problem with your grease traps that allows oil and grease to be washed down the drain, your establishment could be given a hefty fine.

The staff in your commercial kitchen should take all the precautions necessary to prevent grease and oil from being washed down the drain.  This includes properly storing oil in approved holding tanks and wiping grease and oil from dirty dishes before washing them in the sink.  Your grease traps should be viewed as the last line of defense.  You should also have your grease traps cleaned and maintained regularly by a cooking oil professional like Mahoney Environmental.

If there is a problem with your grease traps that has caused an issue in the sewer system, your establishment may get a visit from an inspector.  It is important to know how to react to a visit from an inspector and what to expect from them when they are checking your grease traps.

What Should I Do Before the Inspector Arrives?

Professional Grease Trap CleaningIf you have gotten notice that an inspector is coming to take a look at your grease traps, talk your grease trap vendor.  Inspectors only come to a business when a problem has been identified and their visits are likely to end in fines for your establishment.  If you can set up a meeting with your grease trap vendor before the inspector arrives, they can identify the areas of concern.

What will the inspector look for?

The inspector will check the following when inspecting your grease traps:

  • Inlet and outlet fittings
  • Baffle walls and their configuration
  • The pre-rinse sink to ensure it is not going into your grease traps (70-80 percent of fats, oil, and grease go through the pre-rinse sink)
  • Which fixtures are going to the grease traps
  • Piping
  • Temperature of the water going into the grease trap

The only concern of the inspector is keeping fats, oil, and grease out of the sewer system.  If they notice a problem with anything mentioned above, you will likely be fined.  Your grease trap vendor can inspect these areas before the inspector arrives to find and fix any problems and help you avoid fines.

Perform a Dye Test

Before the inspector arrives, it is very important to make sure that all of the right fixtures in your kitchen are leading into the grease traps.  Your grease trap vendor can help you perform this test by putting a safe, biodegradable dye in your sinks and floor drains.  The dye will make it very easy to see which of your fixtures is draining into the grease traps.  If a certain fixture is not reaching the grease trap like it is supposed to, you will need to take action to correct this before the inspector arrives.

The dye test is quick and will not affect the operations of your kitchen.  The dye used is also made from natural ingredients and it washes off easily so it will not contaminate the food.

What If the Inspector Finds a Problem?

The inspector is only in your establishment to ensure that all regulations are being followed to protect the sewer system.  They are not out to cause harm to your business, and they are willing to work with you to help ensure that your establishment is compliant.  It is important to remember that the inspector is on your side.

However, if the inspector finds a problem, you will likely receive a fine.  Here is what you can expect if the inspector notices the following issues:

Water is Too Hot

The water that goes into your grease traps cannot be too hot.  Hot water will melt oil and grease which will cause it to pass through the grease trap and into the sewer.  If the water is too hot, it is likely because the dishwasher or pasta vats are being directed into the grease traps.  Hot water from these fixtures needs to bypass the grease traps and go directly into the main sewer line.

Improper Fittings and Baffle Walls

If there is a problem with the fittings or baffle walls in your grease traps, then you need to have them repaired or replaced.  This is typically an easy project, but you need to coordinate with your grease trap vendor and your plumber to ensure the repairs are done properly.  Your grease trap vendor may be able to provide the repairs themselves.  At Mahoney Environmental, we provide repairs and maintenance to keep grease traps functional and in compliance.

What if I am Fined?

If your establishment is fined, you need to talk to the inspector and your grease trap vendor to come up with a solution to fix the problem.  You can also have your grease trap vendor work directly with the inspector to come up with a reasonable solution that satisfies all parties.  This will help protect your sewer system and avoid fines in the future.

Professional Grease Trap Maintenance and Repair

The grease traps in your commercial kitchen are extremely important for protecting the sewer system and keeping your establishment in compliance with local codes.  You must ensure that all of the right fixtures in your kitchen are draining into the grease traps and that your staff is regularly checking the traps for damage and clogs.  The best way to keep your grease traps in working order is to have a professional like Mahoney Environmental provide regular maintenance and cleaning.  Our professionals will come at regularly scheduled times to clean and maintain your grease traps and repair any issues to keep the traps functional and compliant.

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