It is a bad idea to pour grease, fats, and oils down the drain. Doing so can result in problems that are gross and more expensive. Grease can clog the sewer line and create problems at the water treatment facilities. To stay healthy and avoid blockages, you need a grease trap.
At home, you may be able to dispose of fats, oils, and grease (FOG) properly by putting it in the trash bag or pouring in an empty jar. Large scale establishments such as restaurants and cafeterias are required by the law to have a grease trap.
A grease trap works by slowing down the flow of hot/warm greasy water and allowing it to cool. As the water cools, the oil, grease, and fats on the water start floating to the top of the trap. The cold water continues to flow down the pipe to the sewer, leaving the grease on the trap. In short, a grease trap helps dispose of waste properly without clogging the pipes.
To keep the grease trap functioning properly, you need to clean it regularly. Learning how to clean a grease trap will help you save money for your business.
Steps to cleaning a grease trap
1. Wear correct personal protective equipment
Before everything, you need to wear rubber gloves, masks, and eye goggles. When you open the grease trap, the odor that will come out is very strong and can cause some health complications if you fail to put on the right gear.
It is also wise that you start grease trap cleaning after closing your restaurant. The odor is not good at all and might chase away your customers.
2. Detach the lead from the grease trap using a pry bar
Use a screwdriver to unscrew the lid of the grease trap. To avoid spillage, put some rugs on the floor. Using a pry bar, remove the lid slowly to avoid damaging the gasket under the cover and place it on rugs. If you happen to damage the gasket, you will have to spend money to replace it.
2. Remove standing water from the grease trap
Use a scooper to empty the standing water in the tank into an empty container. Use a colander to remove the solid matter as you pour the waste to the container. Empty the waste remaining on the colander into a waste bag. Consider putting some rugs in the waste bag to help soak the liquid and make it easy to transport it.
3. Remove the plates
After emptying the waste in the tank, go ahead and remove the plates. You need to clean them before returning them. You can use a scraper to scrape off the waste that may be sticking on them before cleaning with a rug.
Using a scooper, scraper, or a brush, remove the waste that is sticking on the sides of the tank. You can also use a pump sprayer to spray the walls and help breakdown the grease.
4. Cleaning the internal surfaces
Wash the internal surfaces of the grease trap using a piece of cloth. Use a brush or a scraper to clean the hard to reach areas. After cleaning and rinsing it with clean water, use a rug to soak up the remaining liquid in the grease trap.
Don’t use hot water, soap, and degreasers to clean the interior of your trap.
5. Return the baffles into position
After cleaning and drying the plates, return them into their correct position inside the grease trap. It is wise that you inspect the condition of the gasket before returning the rid. Make sure it is clean and replace it if necessary. The gasket should be in good condition to ensure that the fumes are not escaping.
6. Return the rid
Return the cleaned lid to cover up the grease trap. Tighten up the screws using a screwdriver. Make sure the lid is sitting in the correct position before tightening the screws.
7. Removal of waste
Put solid waste in bags for removal from your site. If you don’t have somewhere to dispose of the liquid waste, you can return it to the grease trap. Make sure only solid waste gets back into the grease trap to reduce the need to clean it again soon.
8. Fill up the grease trap cleaning log
Record the date of the day, the name of the cleaner, and other important information as per your local regulations. The inspector will need to see the form. If you don’t have one, you may have to pay a fine.
How often should grease traps be cleaned
Many people remember their grease traps when they clog up and fail to work. You should be cleaning it at least once every three months. If you are operating a busy restaurant or commercial kitchen, you should clean it more frequently, and if possible, every month.
When your grease clogs up and fails to work, you may have to hire a professional to repair it. Cleaning your grease trap regularly is the only way you can avoid costly repairs.
Grease trap laws and regulations
You should avoid going for months without scheduling a grease trap cleaning appointment. Skipping scheduled cleaning appointments will keep your health at risk and is also hazardous to the system.
In some cities, it is against the law not to have your grease trap cleaned after every three months. Health inspectors come checking whether you are adhering to the laid out regulations, including cleaning your grease trap. In some states, the regulations state that if there is at least 25% of your grease trap, you must clean it no matter when you last cleaned it.
Another reason to clean your grease trap regularly is to avoid having a foul smell in your kitchen. When the grease trap gets clogged, the build-up in there will start producing a foul smell. The odor is not only unpleasant to your guests, but it can make the health department take strict actions against you. In some cities, a foul smell coming from your restaurant can make the government cancel your license and take you to court.