There are more than half a million restaurants and food services
in the USA which prepare food for more than 40% of Americans every
single day. Cooking in these commercialজ kitchens ends up generating a
lot of dirt and food waste, especially liquid waste such as oils, fats, and
greases (FOG’s). These produce FOG wastes if left unchecked not only
becomes gross but can also cause plumbing issues or overflows of
water, even serious and really expensive replacements. They can harm
the environment, can destroy natural water resources, and cause water
supply problems for the whole city. Because of this, it’s not a good idea
to pour FOG waste down the drain affect everyone’s sewer system
including your own.
This problem can be solved with the help of a plumbing device
called ‘grease trap’ which can prevent FOG waste (oils, fats, and grease)
from going into the main sewerage system.
What’s a grease trap?
A grease trap is a plumbing device that is designed to intercept
most of the greases and solids before they enter the disposal system.
The technology was first invented and used in the 1880s by
Nathaniel Whiting of California. Since then the use of grease traps
has become more and more popular for their usefulness.
A grease trap collects and reduces the number of fats, oils, and
greases (FOG’s) from the wastewater and prevents them from entering
the main sewer. This action prevents drain blockage, septic tank
damage, foul odors, pest infestation, and many other plumbing issues.
The plumbing device is usually located in the kitchen near the sink and
needs to be cleaned within one or two months (depending on the size
of the kitchen).
How does a grease trap work?
FOG’s (vegetable oils, animal fats, and grease) are non-polar
compounds that consist of large and complex molecules; on the other
hand, water is a polar compound with small molecules. FOG’s are 10 to
15 percent less dense than water. So, they don’t fix with water. Since
water is heavier than fats, oils, and grease, FOG’s float on top of the
A grease trap uses this exact principle to serve its purpose. It is a
box attached to the sewer pipe that separates FOG from the water
through a series of baffled chambers. When wastewater flows through
the plumbing device, it reduces the flow rate enough so the
wastewater can get enough time to cool down and separate into three
layers. FOG floats in the top layer, thanks to an engineered system of
baffles, plastic wall structures that slow down the flow of water. So FOG’s
get time to rise to the top and get trapped by the grease trap. Solids
remain in the bottom while the water is allowed to pass through the
trap into the main sewer pipe.
Why do you need a grease trap?
It is not necessary to have a grease trap in the residential kitchen.
But a commercial kitchen flushes out a huge amount of wastewater
through its drains every day, filled with FOG’s food waste from cooking.
If you own a restaurant or any sort of commercial kitchen, here’s why
you must have a grease trap installed in your kitchen –
- A grease trap keeps your sewer line in the best shape possible. If
FOG and food material is allowed to store inside the main sewer
line, they might cause it to clog. It’s not only unpleasant but also
unhygienic, and causes your business to violate the health code.
A grease trap can keep your business away from this unwanted
- Grease traps are legally required for foodservice businesses all
over the USA. They are also required to be cleaned and inspected
regularly and stay fit for service so they continue to save the city
Why is it necessary to clean grease
If you own a commercial kitchen, that you must have faced the
challenge to maintain FOG in the kitchen. A grease trap is used to solve
this issue but just as many other appliances used in a kitchen, a grease
trap also requires regular maintenance to keep doing its job constantly
and efficiently. Here’s some fact why a commercial kitchen should
maintain, clean a grease trap regularly:
- Foul Smell: A grease trap keeps accumulating FOG in its tank.
That stored FOG waste begins to decompose over time and
create a really bad smell if left untreated. The smell could have a
bad effect on the customers visiting the restaurant and
eventually can disrupt the business reputation.
- Blockage In Drainage System: A grease trap captures the grease
above and solid food waste below in the tank. If the tank is not
cleaned on regular basis, the waste will pile up in the tank, food
waste and FOG’s will come out of the sink. Eventually, this will
result in severe blockages in the pipeline. And this might even
cause backups and overflow resulting in extremely expensive
- Early Tank Replacement: A grease trap stores the filtered FOG
and solids in a septic tank. When there are too many FOG’s in the
tank that hasn’t been cleaned for a while, they get rotten and
produce toxic Sulphuric Acid which can easily damage an ironmade tank resulting in an expensive early tank replacement.
- Business Loss: If you ignore the importance of the grease trap in
your commercial kitchen it will result in heavy loss of your
business. It would be difficult to gain customer’s confidence and
beat your rivals due to the heavy competitive environment of the
food services business.
- Citation of the City Authority: In every municipality around the
state certain penalties attributed to the inappropriate treatment
of FOG in commercial kitchens for both not installing a grease
trap in a commercial kitchen and not cleaning a grease trap when
Penalties Attributed by the Municipalities
I. You might have to pay heavy fines if you don’t install and
clean grease traps regularly.
II. The city authority reserves the right to suspend operations
or even revocation of the operating license until you resolve
problems related to grease traps.
How often should a grease trap be
If you’ve read through this article, you already know the
importance of grease traps and their maintenance such as cleaning. As
mentioned above, it is required in a commercial kitchen to install a
grease trap and clean regularly by the city authority. But how often
should you clean your grease trap? Well, here’s the answer to that
The frequency of restaurant grease trap cleaning depends on the
amount of FOG waste, a commercial kitchen produces. A grease trap
requires an emergency cleaning when 25% of it is filled with FOG’s
otherwise the trap will not be effective.
Restaurants and other foodservice establishments should clean
grease traps every one to three months. But this period may vary as on
the type of food establishment, as the grease production will vary
significantly. For example, a coffee house and sandwich shop will
produce significantly fewer grease outputs than a steak house, family
restaurant, or grocery store.
All restaurants and food services are advised to schedule regular
service with a professional and licensed grease trap cleaning company
so that their kitchen remains safe from all sorts of unwanted plumbing
How to clean grease traps?
Cleaning a grease trap is not an easy task. It should be done by
someone professional and who has lots of experience with grease
traps. There are few ways to clean a grease trap properly. The whole
process takes time so you should start the operation in the closing hour
of your restaurant. Here are some of the common steps to clean a
grease trap –
At first, the lid of the grease trap must be removed very gently. It must
make sure that the gasket of the lid doesn’t get damaged. Then, you
will have to measure the thickness of greases inside your device with a
ruler or any other kind of measurement equipments. This will have to
be written down in a FOG report. Then all of the water inside the
grease trap will have to be removed to clean FOG and solids trapped
inside. Then you can scoop the greases and all other wastes with a
shovel. This step must be done carefully making sure that the body of
the tank doesn’t get damaged. You will have to scrape the bottom,
sides of the inside of the grease trap, and lid to remove any excess
greases to prevent from a quick buildup of greases from the debris that
are leftover. Then scrubs those parts of the grease trap to make sure
they are properly cleaned and tidy. After you’re done doing all of that,
simply pour some water back into the trap and reinstall any removed
part of the device.
Grease trap cleaning is a complicated task. If you’re worried about
cleaning your grease trap, make a call to the Grease Company. They will
answer your call and clean your grease trap sooner than you can