When you run any type of business that serves food, whether it is a full-scale restaurant or a tiny café that is only open a few hours a day, you are subject to local regulations for handling food waste, including grease. If you are in the planning stages of opening your business, make sure that you understand how to keep your grease traps clean to avoid malfunctions and spills into the local sewer system: problems that will lead to costly repairs and municipal fines. Furthermore, you should familiarize yourself with your town's regulations for grease trap inspections.
Grease Traps Basics for the Novice
Even if you do not plan on serving foods that contain a lot of fat, you will still need a grease trap to collect the oily substances that collect over time from food. The traps will remove any grease, oil and fat substances from waste water before it reaches the sewer system in a rectangular metal container. Grease-infested water can clog pipes, causing sewage overflows.
When it is time to install a grease trap in your facility, you should consult with a plumber that specializes in the devices to make sure you install the right size of trap for your kitchen. Before you open your business, you will have to undergo a city inspection that will include examining the grease trap.
Grease trap size calculations are based primarily how much water you use per day, how much food you serve per day and the flow rate and size of your sink. You may also need to install a grease trap for dish washing machine.
Depending on the design of your kitchen, the grease trap may sit on the floor near the sink or underneath the floor in a recessed compartment.
Keeping Grease Traps Clean
You can purchase non-toxic, environmentally-friendly drain cleaners that are not harmful to sewage systems to help keep your grease trap unclogged. The solutions consist of enzymes and deodorizers such as orange peel that break down grease and leave a fresh scent.
You should also post "No Grease" signs near sinks and trash receptacles to avoid having employees dump grease and fat in the wrong place.
In addition, clean up any spills right away with non-toxic cleaners and oil-absorbent cloths or pads. You do want spills to reach floor drains and enter into the sewage system.
Your municipality's grease trap regulations will determine how often you get the grease trap professionally cleaned. Some towns require an inspection every few months while others only mandate annual inspections. Call your city's wastewater department to find out the exact schedule for required inspections.
If you fail to get your grease trap inspected on time, you could be on the hook for steep fines and see your restaurant's name posted publicly in health code violation reports.
Preparing for a Municipal Inspection
The best way to prepare for an inspection is to have your plumber examine the grease trap for any defects and make repairs well ahead of a city official's visit to your restaurant. Your plumber will check the device and any pipes that lead to it to make sure there is no buildup of fat, food and other substances.
There are several things you can do to help keep make the plumber's job easier.
- Keep a log of each time you clean the grease trap.
- Do not leave grease and oil storage containers uncovered and do not let them overflow.
- Check the grease trap each week to make sure that the grease collected does not exceed the threshold specified in the device's user manual.
Also, ask your city government if they can provide you with a grease trap inspection checklist to help you prepare for the inspection. There may items on the check list that you forget to think about, such as grease buildup in kitchen exhaust systems. For more information, you can also talk to a local grease removal service.