What You Should Know about Commercial Grease Traps
If you own a restaurant or food service establishment, then you likely already know that a commercial grease trap system is a basic part of your business’s plumbing and sanitary system.
You might also know that in order for your establishment to remain up to code, it must have a properly installed and functioning grease trap in place that receives routine maintenance to clean it out. And this is a job for a professional commercial plumber!
What you might not know is how exactly a grease trap functions, and what makes it so important. Read on!
The Job of Your Commercial Grease Trap
The grease trap in your commercial kitchen is there to prevent FOG (fats, oils, and grease, that go down the sink drains from entering into either the public sewer system or the septic tank.
The problem with FOG is that it can quickly clog up pipes and create major obstructions, so as much as possible should be kept from going through your plumbing system’s drain pipes.
Grease traps are particularly important for businesses that rely on a septic system instead of the municipal sewer system, as they can rapidly clog up the tank and cause a backflow of sewage into the building, creating not only a mess and business interruption, but also very likely a health code violation.
Grease Trap Basics
Grease traps have been used for many years, and the technology behind them has changed very little. Most grease traps are known as passive or gravity grease traps because they need very few mechanical components to work. The force of gravity itself to separate FOG from the water is enough to handle most of the work. Commercial grease traps are able to hold about 1,000 to 2,000 gallons and are buried in the ground outside the building, between the plumbing and sewer system.
If you’ve ever paid attention to grease in water, you’ll notice the grease floats to the top. This is how the grease trap is able to keep FOG from the sewer system—water filled with FOG enters a reservoir in the grease trap. This reservoir enables the water to settle so the FOG rises up to the top. Solid food waste, which is often in the water, is heavier and will sink to the bottom of the trap while the FOG layer floats to the top.
This is referred to as the “scum layer” and the foods layer is called the “sludge layer.” Wastewater stays in the middle, where it’s pumped out through a pipe placed to only draw from it. The wastewater continues to the municipal system, with most FOG and food now removed. Some fats and grease will still get through, but 85% remains in the trap.
Because of what stays behind, it’s important that commercial grease traps are regularly emptied and cleaned. If too much scum and sludge builds up, the trap will start sending FOG into the sewer system, defeating the purpose of the grease trap, compromising the municipal sewer system, and potentially getting your business in trouble. Fortunately, our pros are skilled at dealing with commercial grease traps and are ready to help!