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How To Clean A Commercial Grease Trap

#Grease Traps#Commercial

Grease traps play a crucial role in commercial kitchens, preventing fats, oils, and grease from entering the sewage system. Regular maintenance and thorough cleaning are vital to avoid blockages, odours, and environmental hazards. Explore proven methods, safety precautions, and industry best practices to keep your grease trap in optimal condition.

Commercial kitchens are the heart of many businesses, but keeping them running smoothly requires more than culinary expertise. Grease traps play a crucial role behind the scenes, acting as the silent guardians of your plumbing system. These essential tools trap fatty oils, fats, and grease (FOGs) before they can clog drains and sewer lines.

Clean Commercial Grease Trap

Regular grease trap maintenance is essential to ensure their efficiency. A neglected trap can overflow, causing costly disruptions, foul odours, and potential environmental damage. Similar agencies like the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) emphasise the importance of properly disposing of FOGs to prevent sewer line blockages and protect our waterways.

This guide equips commercial kitchen staff with the knowledge and tools to clean grease traps effectively. We’ll cover everything you need to know, from the tools (rubber gloves, steel pot scrubber, heavy-duty scooper, etc.) to the steps involved in cleaning various types of grease traps.

We’ll delve into how much waste to remove, how to properly dispose of it, and the importance of using cool water (not hot!) during the cleaning process.

The Importance of Regular Grease Trap Cleaning

A grease trap is vital to any commercial kitchen’s plumbing system. It traps fats, oils, and grease (FOG) before they enter the wastewater system. These greasy materials can solidify and cause blockages in pipes and drains.

How A Grease Trap Work

Grease traps work by slowing down the flow of wastewater. Grease, being lighter than water, floats to the surface and collects in the trap’s tank. The remaining FOG and food scraps settle at the bottom. This separation lets you properly clean water flow freely through the drain.

Commercial Deep Fry Machine

The Consequences of Neglecting Grease Trap Cleaning

Without regular grease trap cleaning, several problems can arise:

  • Overflow and Blockages: A full grease trap can overflow, causing blockages in the kitchen sink drain and sewer line. This can lead to expensive repairs and disruptions to your business.
  • Unpleasant Odours: FOG build-up can create foul odours that waft from the kitchen sink and grease trap’s lid. This can be unpleasant for staff and customers.
  • Environmental Damage: If FOG escapes the trap and enters waterways, it can harm marine life and disrupt ecosystems.
  • Fines: Regulatory bodies may impose fines on businesses that fail to comply with grease trap cleaning regulations.

Safety First: Preparing for Cleaning Duty

Cleaning might seem like a simple task, but safety shouldn’t be forgotten! This is especially true for jobs like grease trap maintenance, where you’ll be dealing with waste materials, grease, and potential odours.

To minimise risks, gear up with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) before diving in. This includes wearing gloves, goggles, and a mask to shield yourself from splashes, fumes, and anything else that might come your way. Don’t forget sturdy footwear to prevent slips on wet surfaces.

Taking a moment before you start to locate your grease trap and familiarise yourself with its design can save you time and hassle in the long run. Knowing where the lid is and understanding the grease trap’s parts will make the cleaning process much smoother. It’s always best to consult a licensed plumber for assistance if you’re unsure about anything.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning a Grease Trap

1. Minimising Disruption

Schedule grease trap cleaning during off-peak hours when the kitchen is less busy for a smooth operation. This minimises disruption to your workflow and allows you to focus on the task at hand. To prevent the trap from refilling while you clean, turning off any automatic dishwasher and sinks that might drain into it is also a good idea.

2. Locating Your Grease Trap

Grease traps are typically located underground or tucked away behind the kitchen. If you’re unsure of the exact location, consult your facility manual or ask a designated staff member who is familiar with its whereabouts.

3. Opening the Trap with Caution

Be aware that built-up gas might escape upon opening the lid. To avoid surprise and unpleasant odours, take your time and remove the lid slowly and carefully. Consider using a nose plug for additional protection if you’re particularly sensitive to smells.

Opening Grease Trap

4. Skimming the FOG Layer

The first step in cleaning the trap is removing the thick layer of FOG (fat, oil, and grease) that floats on the surface. Use a large ladle or skimmer to remove this layer efficiently. Transfer the collected FOG to a sealed container for proper disposal – don’t pour it down the drain!

5. Pumping Out Wastewater

Once you’ve dealt with the surface FOG, it’s time to tackle the wastewater. A shop vacuum is a great tool for this job. Use a wet/dry shop vac to remove the remaining liquid in the trap. The wastewater can get heavy, so be mindful of the weight when emptying the vacuum.

6. Scraping and Cleaning the Interior

A good scrape is essential for properly cleaning the interior of the grease trap. Use a metal scraper or a stiff brush to remove any FOG deposits clinging to the sides, bottom, and baffles (internal separators) of the trap. These areas are prone to build-up so that a little elbow grease might be required for stubborn bits.

Cleaning Large Stainless Steel Grease Trap

7. Washing and Reassembling

After scraping, it’s time for a thorough wash. Fill a bucket with room temperature water and add a good squirt of dish soap. Use this soapy solution to scrub the interior surfaces of the trap, including the baffles and lid. Rinse everything thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue.

8. Final Touches

Once everything is clean, inspect the lid’s gasket for wear and tear. If it’s damaged, replace it to ensure a proper seal. Reassemble the trap, ensuring everything is secure before returning it to its original position.

Regular cleaning is vital for maintaining an efficient grease trap. Depending on the size and usage of your trap, a good rule of thumb is to clean it every one to three months.

Following these steps and maintaining a regular cleaning schedule can prevent FOG build-up, blockages, and unpleasant odours, keeping your kitchen running smoothly. Remember, a clean trap is a happy trap!

Don’t Let Fog Clog Your Business

Thanks for reading! By following these steps, you can maintain a healthy grease trap and avoid costly clogs.

For professional grease trap cleaning and maintenance, trust Big Blue Plumbing. We offer comprehensive commercial plumbing services, including 24/7 emergency assistance for any urgent plumbing needs. Contact us today to ensure your business runs smoothly!

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