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Restaurant Grease Trap Cleaning FAQs

Municipalities require commercial kitchens to house a grease trap on their premises.

Fats, oils, greases and solids (FOGS) are produced by cooking and a portion winds up in the kitchen drain.

The grease trap prevents the FOGS from clogging the city sewer system.

Restaurants, delicatessens and other food businesses can be heavily fined if a lack of grease trap cleanings cause a blockage in the municipal sewer lines.

How does a grease trap work?

A grease trap is just that—an entrapment for grease. When residual FOGS are emptied into the commercial kitchen sink, the grease trap allows the water to sink to the bottom and drain into the city’s water supply. The floating grease remains at the top, where it can be accessed and removed. For a more detailed explanation of how grease trap works – click here.

Why are grease traps mandated?

Environmental regulations mandate that a grease trap be installed in food establishments to prevent greases from causing sanitary sewer backups or overflows. Municipal regulations also outline how often grease traps should be cleaned and maintained. Cities must approve of the grease trap design and its minimum size (which can be 250 to 2500 gallons).

How often should grease traps be cleaned?

The frequency of restaurant grease trap cleanings vary with how often the kitchen produces FOGS. On average, cleanings should be performed every one to three months. Restaurants, cafeterias and other commercial kitchens are advised to set up a regular service schedule to avoid missing critical cleanings.

What is the one-fourths cleaning rule?

The one-quarter rule is an internationally recognized standard for grease trap cleaning and maintenance. If 25 percent of the grease trap is filled with FOGS, the quarter-full trap requires a prompt cleaning. A grease trap that is more than a quarter full is no longer effective. At this point, greases start to leak into the city sewer system, causing clogs in the sewer channels.

Why does the grease trap fill up within 30 days?

The amount of grease your restaurant or cafeteria produces effects how quickly the grease trap fills up or reaches the one-quarter level. If the grease trap fills up within a month, consider resizing the grease trap.

An appropriately sized grease trap is dependent on the type of food establishment, its water use and volume of FOGS. Often, city regulations dictate the trap size.

Do all commercial kitchens require the same cleaning frequency?

Depending on the type of food establishment, the grease production will vary significantly—which also impacts the regularity of cleanings. A delicatessen, coffee house and sandwich shop will produce significantly less grease outputs than a steak house, family restaurant or grocery store with a fryer.

What tips can staff use to reduce FOGS and cleanings?

Grease trap cleanings may be needed less often if minimal FOGS enter the grease trap.

Scrape all food waste from plates, utensils, pots and pans prior to loading them into the sink for washing. Be sure to discard the food waste into a compost receptacle.

Plan for oil spills, especially around frying/cooking stations or where the deep fryer is located. Do not allow oil splatters and spills to enter the drain.

Be careful with what foods are discarded into the sink’s garbage disposal. While it is tempting to assume a powerful disposal will conveniently clear away the waste, oils become emulsified; and FOGS solidify, defeating the efficacy of the grease trap.

What are best practices to maintain grease traps?

As with any functional device, grease traps should be examined regularly for wear and tear or damage. Utilize sink drain covers to reduce food particles from entering the drain. Do not empty grease into the sink, as the grease will solidify while traveling down the drain and cause blockages. Kitchen employees should be informed about best practices in handling food waste and cooking grease.

Who cleans grease traps?

Cleaning grease traps involves record keeping, proper disposal and cleaning techniques that should follow municipal regulations. If ordinances are not followed, heavy fines are imposed. Professional services are available to clean commercial kitchen grease traps while abiding by local laws.

Service providers vary in the pumping methods they use. Gray water is the water left after greases are removed. The two processes differ in how technicians handle the gray water:

Dry pump includes removing all the contents within the grease trap, including the solid FOGS and the gray water. The trap is left dry and can begin to emit foul odors until it is refilled with water.

Pump and return is an alternate and preferred method; however, since this technique requires specialized trucks, it is not offered by all service providers. In the pump and return cleaning process, the FOGS are lifted out, and the remaining gray water is left behind in the trap.

When your restaurant requires optimal grease trap service, Mahoney Environmental is available to meet your custom requirements. Whether your grease trap is located indoors or outdoors, Mahoney Environmental experts will service the trap at convenient hours and with speed.

Included in the comprehensive list of grease trap maintenance services offered by Mahoney Environmental are trap cleaning and repair; skilled technicians thoroughly clean both the inside and outside elements of the trap, allowing it to function more efficiently, and repair broken parts. Rodding and jetting services ensure built-up debris is dislodged and removed; clogged areas are addressed with advanced equipment. Each service is accompanied with a detailed inspection report. History reports are also available for each service visit.

Our professionals are knowledgeable about grease trap cleaning ordinances and service your unit while ensuring full compliance with local regulations. We have experience with a wide range of businesses, including school cafeterias, hotels, restaurants of all sizes and hospitals.

Mahoney Environmental has served the needs of commercial kitchens for nearly 60 years. Maintain your commercial kitchen environment and keep it operating at an optimal level with the expert grease trap cleaning services provided by Mahoney Environmental. Our reliable team at Mahoney Environmental is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to emergency calls.

Related Articles:
Complete Guide for Cleaning Grease Traps in Commercial Kitchens

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