Dealing with a dirty grease trap is a messy business, but the alternative—leaving it go—can lead to obnoxious odors, clogged plumbing, and even property damage. Any of these can equal lost business in your commercial or industrial facility. Learn more about how to clean a grease trap, when to clean, and when to leave it up to the professionals. Grease traps should be inspected monthly and must be cleaned by a licensed septage hauler whenever the level of grease is 25% of the effective depth of the trap, or at least every 3 months, whichever is sooner. See 310 CMR 15.230 for the MA Title V regulatory requirements.
What Do You Need to Clean a Grease Trap?
Grease traps catch fat, oil, and grease (FOG) as well as food waste, separating these substances from sink, drain, and dishwasher wastewater before it flows into sewer water. To clean your grease trap effectively, needed materials fall into two categories: cleaning tools and apparel. The following aid in the cleaning process:
- Shop vacuum
- Pot scrubber
- Dish soap
You’ll want to protect yourself and your clothing as well, so consider PPE-related items like:
- Gas masks
- Nose plugs
- Coveralls or suitable clothing covers
How to Clean an Industrial Grease Trap
As a grease trap fills up, its efficiency declines, potentially allowing sewage waters to back up into the building’s plumbing. You can maintain your grease trap with regular cleaning, however, you should still reach out to a service company for professional cleanings. To begin, ensure that the water in your trap tank is cool and that no dishwashers and sinks are running. Next, locate your trap. They’re often under the ground just outside your facility walls, or they could be in the basement or under the sink or flooring. Once found, use a wrench or crowbar to carefully remove the lid without damaging the gaskets underneath.
In a cool tank, FOG typically rises up to the water’s surface, making it easier to extract. Using a shop vacuum, remove this first so FOG doesn’t stick to the tank edges as the liquid in the tank drains. Then, suck out any food solids or liquids left to fully empty the tank. Clean the remaining grease from the lid, trap sides, and baffles with a scraper. Once done, utilize a steel pot scrubber to scrub all trap components with warm water and dish soap, rinsing the trap afterward to flush out the soap and any leftover waste.
Back at the kitchen sink, release a gallon of clean water to test drainage. If the water doesn’t properly exit through the drain, there’s likely a clog that a qualified plumber will need to address. If it flows without incident, put all trap components back in place and dispose of the collected waste. For small amounts, you can mix kitty litter into the wastewater and throw out the resulting solid in a trash receptacle, but larger amounts are best handled by professional grease trap cleaners.
How Often Should You Clean Grease Traps?
Traps that go too long between cleanings can develop clogs that will both slow wastewater drainage and produce an offensive smell. Commercial grease trap cleaning should occur based on what’s known as the 1/4 rule, or cleaning when the trap hits about one-fourth of its capacity. This typically equates to one to three months, depending on how much grease a facility uses.
Businesses are also subject to local or state-wide regulations for maintaining certain sanitation codes for safety and health. Working with professionals is useful here, as the service company will know all the applicable laws, have the experience to get optimal performance out of your grease trap, and help you set up a cleaning schedule.
What Happens If My Grease Trap Overflows?
When a grease trap has reached its limit and overflows, you risk sewer clogs, flooding, and property damage. Lingering food particles and FOG can break down trap walls over time, resulting in expensive replacements. Additionally, the horrid smell that accompanies a grease trap overflow may linger even after you’ve dealt with the problem.
Municipalities can also levy heavy fines against your business or revoke your license for excessive FOG and food waste entering sewer water. Contact a reputable service company for restaurant grease trap cleaning before this can become an issue.
Partner With Service Pumping & Drain Co., Inc.™
If cleaning out the grease trap in your commercial or industrial site doesn’t appeal to you, you can trust Service Pumping & Drain Co, to get it done right. In business since 1927, our family-owned company encompasses a fleet of 20 service vehicles and a team of more than 20 well-trained technicians to best meet your needs. We even have our own wastewater treatment plant for processing grease trap waste.
Our team believes in providing superior customer service to our 12,000+ clients. Should the worst happen, we offer 24-hour emergency service to address unexpected problems. Contact us to set up a worry-free maintenance schedule for your commercial or industrial grease trap, and learn more about our pumping, draining, and septic services.