Grease traps have been an essential element in commercial kitchens for more than 100 years, separating grease from water before it can clog or damage the drains and pollute the environment. Because they play such an important role, neglecting grease traps can result in serious blockages, sulphuric acid damage, and overspills. If they impede water flow, these plumbing issues can halt kitchen operations completely. Here’s why commercial kitchen grease trap cleaning should happen on a regular basis. 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 Is the Maximum Rate of Flow Through a Grease Trap?
The maximum flow rate of a grease trap in a restaurant depends on many factors, including the liquid volume, waste pipe diameter, average number of customers served, and the volume of grease processed per maintenance cycle. In general, you should choose a grease trap based on your kitchen’s grease production rate and local plumbing codes.
Your kitchen’s grease production varies depending on the kind of restaurant—for example, a smoothie bar won’t produce as much grease as a brunch eatery. Ultimately, the maximum flow rate that your grease trap can handle will depend on the design and size of the system.
Getting a bigger grease trap than you need is not necessarily better for your system in the long run. Not only will it cost more, but it’ll also pose issues like excess hydrogen sulfide buildup and corrosion. You’ll be more likely to go longer before cleaning it, which can contribute to hazardous conditions for your workers.
How Often Should You Empty a Grease Trap?
In general, most commercial kitchens need to clean their grease traps every one to three months. Or, you can clean out the grease trap once it fills to a quarter of its maximum capacity, however long it takes to get there. Grease tends to smell the longer it sits in the trap, so it’s best not to let it build up past the quarter mark. If it takes longer than three months to reach a quarter full, your trap is probably too big for your kitchen. Clean it anyway to avoid bad odors, and consider changing the size of the trap.
Problems That Arise Because of a Full Grease Trap
Ignoring your grease trap can lead to a variety of problems:
- Bad odors: Smells that disrupt workers or patrons can be caused by grease that has been sitting for too long or sludge buildup in your pipes.
- Clogging in the incoming or outgoing line: The incoming line can become clogged from excess debris and stop the grease trap from working. Clogs in the outgoing line can result in overflows of both compartments of a grease trap.
- Clogging in the compartment crossover: A grease trap is made of one compartment that separates solids from liquids and another compartment that releases waste into the sewage system. The crossover line between these compartments can become clogged, leading to an abnormally high level of liquid in the first compartment.
- Overflow: When waste spills from one compartment to the other, the grease trap needs to be pumped and cleaned out immediately.
High-Quality Grease Trap Maintenance by Service Pumping & Drain
Grease traps are an integral part of clean and efficient commercial kitchen operations. For assistance on how to clean your grease trap, we’re here to help. For nearly a century, Service Pumping & Drain Co., Inc.™ has served businesses in eastern Massachusetts with commercial pumping and drain services, including grease trap cleaning and maintenance. To demonstrate our commitment to prompt customer service, we’re also available 24/7 for emergency needs. Contact us to learn how we can help keep your business running smoothly.