How Important is a Grease Trap?

grease traps in need of cleaning

What is a grease trap? 

Are grease traps necessary? Yes, absolutely. Restaurants cannot not function safely without a working grease trap. In almost every city, town, or county, the health department requires there be a grease trap and that it should be cleaned regularly. There are grease traps for residential use too, but we’ll focus on the restaurant industry and commercial or industrial kitchens for this piece. 

A grease trap is a receptacle where wastewater from the kitchen flows through before it enters the sewer system. This receptacle is the grease trap or grease interceptor. The name is because it captures, intercepts, or “traps” the grease. 

How do grease traps work?

Grease is ten to fifteen percent less dense than water. Grease does not mix with water, you’ve probably heard “Oil and water don’t mix.”? Well, grease and water don’t either! This attempt of mixing grease water results in what the industry calls FOG (fats, oils, grease) all floating on the water’s top. Take a peek inside a grease trap and there is a mat of grease, floating around. Nasty sounding isn’t it? 

That nasty mat happens when the wastewater flows through the grease trap and the grease rises. It is then trapped by a system of baffles, the plastic wall inside the grease trap tank that slows down and controls the water flow. 

The grease it captures fills the grease trap and the grease-free water flows on through the bottom and to the sewer lines. When that collection of grease gets to a certain depth, a grease trap company empties the trap. 

How often should you clean grease trap?

Every restaurant’s grease trap cleaning and  pump out schedule is different. Factors that impact that schedule are: 

  • Grease trap size
  • Restaurant’s seating capacity, 
  • The type of business and cooking techniques

Because a restaurant manager and owner are focused more on the customers, the menu, the food, and labor costs, they can often overlook the grease trap cleaning. Many will set a schedule up with the grease trap cleaning service for a weekly or monthly routine. 

There can be costly ramifications when a grease trap isn’t cleaned regularly, and the legal ramifications can put a restaurant out of business, temporarily or permanently.  Here is a basic guideline that can keep the doors open and the customers healthy: 

  • The One-Fourth Rule: Every month is recommended, no less than every three months. This is typically how long it takes for a restaurant’s grease trap to become one-fourth full of FOG. At that point, the grease trap is no longer as effective as it should be for a restaurant to be healthy. 
  • Laws and Regulations: In many cities or counties, a restaurant is legally required to have their grease trap cleaned out every 90 days regardless if it is less than one-fourth full. 

Can you clean your own grease trap?

Again, this will depend on the city or county where your restaurant is located. Some require it be done by a certified and licensed contractor. Another consideration is doing it properly and with care. While a grease trap is industrial strength, there are parts within the system, if they aren’t handled right can break and need to be replaced.  A professional service knows how to handle these parts and if they break them it is on them to replace at their expense. 

What is the purpose of a grease trap?

Wastewater goes to the sewer collection system, but there are some materials they cannot handle, FOG is one of them. Grease solidifies as it cools down to a normal temperature and that can clog pipes and sewer lines just like it does in your own home. 

Except in the case of restaurants, commercial or industrial kitchens, those sewer pipes become blocked, it can become sanitary issue for the area. sewer overflows.  Overflow sewer system is a significant public health risk, requiring specialized equipment, a lot of manpower and time clear.

The required grease traps in restaurants and other locations where food is prepared ensures this doesn’t happen. This is also why a regular grease trap cleaning and emptying is required, too keep the FOG from overflowing into the sewer system. 

grease trap lid

What are the advantages of a grease trap?

For every restaurant, commercial, or industrial kitchen, a grease trap is invaluable. Why?  

  • PREVENTS FOG: A grease trap lives and works in the drainage system to catch excess fats, oils, and grease to keep them getting into the main sewer system and keep the system from getting blocked and clogged. 
  • GREASE TRAPS ARE COOL: When wastewater enters through the grease trap, the solid waste that went in the sink and goes to the bottom. A grease trap accumulates that wastewater and pulls the FOG off as it solidifies at the top of the water.  
  • ECONOMICAL: Grease traps provide an economic advantage by minimizing the amount of expensive maintenance is needed in the sewer system.  
  • ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY: By keeping a grease trap in proper working order, you keep FOG out of the sewer system which keeps the environment cleaner. 

With a professional grease trap company servicing your grease trap, this contract will include any grease trap repair and cleaning, another reason you should take on the grease trap cleaning yourself.  These companies not only are experienced in cleaning and emptying grease traps, they know them from the inside out, including repairing them. With this service, you don’t have to know how can you fix a grease trap and you can keep running your restaurant. Call (817) 560-4144 today.