Grease trap service FAQs

How does a grease trap work?

Typically, all kitchen drains are connected to a grease trap, which functions as a reservoir for segregating grease and oils from the wastewater generated by sinks, floor drains, and dishwashers. Water originating from these various sources enters the grease trap, where a separation process occurs. Grease rises to the top of the trap and is subsequently removed, allowing the wastewater to exit through an outlet pipe and flow into the city's sewer system. The precise method used to clean the grease trap, whether it involves full pumping or pump and return, often depends on the specific regulations enforced by the city or county, or the capabilities of the service provider.

How can I maintain my grease trap?

  • Ensure the regular servicing of your grease trap by a knowledgeable and professional service provider, such as Grand Natural Inc. This proactive maintenance will help you steer clear of costly backups and overflows. Additionally, the service technicians can alert you to any visible damage that might require repair or attention from a plumber.
  • Periodically inspect the trap for signs of wear or damage. If you or your employees detect any unpleasant odors emanating from the grease trap itself, consider replacing the gasket that seals the lid.
  • Educate your employees on the proper handling of grease and food waste.
  • Install drain covers in sinks to capture debris and strictly avoid pouring grease down the drain.
  • Encourage the practice of scraping food off plates into the trash before rinsing, as this helps prevent the introduction of food waste into your trap, reducing the risk of blockages.

Can you recycle grease trap grease and what is it used for?

While not a frequent practice, there are instances when grease trap grease can be recovered and recycled. The extracted substance, often referred to as "brown grease," finds new purpose in compliance with relevant regulations, typically as a source of boiler fuel. It's important to note that grease trap grease cannot be repurposed for use in animal feed or pet food, nor can it be processed at facilities involved in the production of animal feed or pet food ingredients. 

In scenarios where a service provider collects your used cooking oil or fat and bone scraps for the purpose of animal feed, they may also offer trap servicing. However, it's crucial to understand that separate vehicles are employed for these tasks, and the trap material cannot be taken to the same facility where cooking oil or meat fats are being processed. More commonly, grease trap grease material is gathered and appropriately disposed of in an environmentally secure manner at licensed facilities.

What size grease trap do I need for my location?

The primary consideration is ensuring that your business possesses an appropriately sized grease trap and maintaining it through regular servicing by a licensed provider Experienced in adhering to local FOG (Fats, Oils, and Greases) regulations. The size of the trap is mainly determined by the volume of grease generated by your establishment. In certain cases, local authorities stipulate the trap's dimensions, offering guidance on compliance with regional stipulations. Generally, exterior grease traps are sized at 1,000 gallons or larger. To identify and install the optimal trap size for your business, you can seek advice from a plumber or a trap manufacturer. Consistent professional maintenance, conducted by a licensed service provider such as Grand Natural ensures your trap functions seamlessly, maintains compliance with documentation and disposal prerequisites, and identifies potential issues before they escalate into costly complications.

Where can I purchase a grease trap?

Grand Natural does not engage in the sale, provision, or installation of grease traps. These tasks should be performed by a licensed plumber who possesses a comprehensive understanding of local ordinances and regulations. The dimensions of the grease trap required are contingent upon factors such as the store's size, water consumption, and grease accumulation. In certain instances, the city authorities may stipulate the size of the grease trap that should be implemented. Once your grease trap is successfully installed, Grand Natural is available to assist you in devising an efficient maintenance schedule to ensure your store remains compliant and your trap functions optimally. Regular maintenance serves the dual purpose of early issue detection, averting critical and costly complications.

How often should I have my grease trap cleaned or serviced?

The frequency of grease trap service is contingent upon both the size of your grease interceptor and the amount of grease generated by your business. Additionally, local Health Inspectors often enforce specific frequencies and guidelines. Experienced grease trap cleaning companies can collaborate with your establishment to establish a service timetable that aligns with the local regulatory guidelines.

How do I clean a grease trap?

Cleaning a grease trap involves various methods, and often municipal regulations dictate the specific approach. Due to the complexity of the job and the strict regulations in place, we strongly recommend that grease trap cleaning is entrusted to a reputable, licensed service provider who remains current with local city or county regulations.

The reason for this recommendation is that regulations pertaining to cleaning, record-keeping, and trap material disposal are extensive, and non-compliance can result in significant fines. Store owners are discouraged from attempting maintenance themselves as it is a task that requires professional expertise. In most cases, a single DIY attempt is sufficient to convince even the most determined entrepreneur to seek the services of a professional. Grease trap cleaning is one of the most unpleasant, odorous, and labor-intensive responsibilities that you can assign to a kitchen employee.

Cleaning methods can vary, so it's crucial to first determine if your city mandates a particular pumping method. Then, seek out a service provider capable of delivering the mandated method or the one you prefer. Two common methods are:

Pump and return - 1.In this approach, fats, oils, and greases (FOG material) are extracted and taken away by the service provider. However, the separated gray water, which is the water left after grease removal, is returned to your grease trap. This method is often preferred, but not all providers offer it as it requires specialized vehicles.

Dry pump - 2.Here, your service provider removes the entire contents of the trap, taking away both the FOG and gray water. This leaves your trap dry until it starts to fill again. It's important to note that a dry tank can emit strong odors until water is reintroduced.

Crucially, remember that you are responsible for the material removed from your trap, even after it has been taken off your property. If your service provider illegally disposes of the material in an unauthorized location, you can be subject to fines. Therefore, it's vital to partner with a trusted service provider who can handle the job responsibly and in full compliance with all applicable regulations. Maintain records and manifests as they should be readily available for municipal inspections.

Is it ok to put grease down the drain? Isn't that what the grease trap is for?

Absolutely not! It's crucial to emphasize that pouring grease down a drain is a practice to be strictly avoided. Grease can solidify as it travels through the pipes, leading to clogs, backups, and overflows. These blockages have the potential to damage both your internal plumbing system and local city sewage systems, which could result in fines for business owners. Grease traps are designed to capture residual grease and should never be used as a means to dispose of solid materials. Proper disposal practices are essential for maintaining the integrity of both your plumbing and the larger municipal infrastructure.

What are the fines and who are they from if my grease trap overflows?

The fine amount for grease-related violations is typically determined at the municipal level, and it depends on several factors. These factors may include the number of previous overflows, whether grease trap services have been consistently maintained, and if trap samples exceed fat, oil, and grease (FOG) limits. It's important to note that FOG regulations can differ from one municipality, county, or state to another. Therefore, it's crucial for your service provider to be well-versed in local FOG requirements, ensuring that your traps are serviced and trap material is disposed of in full compliance with city regulations. Compliance with these regulations is essential to avoid fines and maintain a responsible and environmentally-friendly waste management approach.

My grease trap overflowed. Can you help?

In the event of an overflow, particularly if it's caused by a clog, the services of a plumber may be necessary to clear any blockages. While we are fully prepared to empty the contents of the trap, addressing a clog often requires the expertise of a plumber to ensure that the grease trap can function effectively. Regularly scheduled maintenance is a proactive approach to prevent clogs and disruptions, thereby minimizing the need for emergency plumbing services and maintaining the smooth operation of your grease trap.

Why does my restaurant smell sometimes after I just had my trap cleaned?

Unpleasant odors in your establishment may have various underlying causes. Here are some potential reasons:

  • A worn or corroded gasket around the manhole cover of your grease trap can allow gases to escape, permeating into your restaurant.
  • The presence of a backup in the line leading to the grease trap, often stemming from grease and food clogs, may require a plumber's intervention to clear any obstructions.
  • If you notice odors shortly after a trap service visit, it could be related to the cleaning method employed, and the smell is likely to dissipate with time.

Identifying and addressing the specific cause of the odor is essential to maintain a pleasant and hygienic environment in your restaurant.

I have a grease interceptor. Do I need a grease trap?

A grease interceptor and a grease trap are indeed commonly used interchangeably to refer to the same device or system. Both serve the purpose of capturing and separating grease, fats, and oils from wastewater, preventing them from entering the sewage system and causing blockages or environmental issues. Whether you call it a grease interceptor or a grease trap, the fundamental function remains consistent.

Do you repair grease traps?

Currently, Grand Natural and its partners do not offer this particular service. However, during our routine service visits, we do monitor the condition of your grease trap. As part of our comprehensive consulting process, we will thoroughly assess the state of your trap and provide recommendations if repairs are deemed necessary. Prioritizing regular grease trap maintenance is key to ensuring the continued smooth operation of your trap and reducing the need for costly repairs or emergency calls to a plumber.

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