What To Know About Cleaning The Grease Trap In Your New Restaurant

Posted on: 2 December 2016

If you're planning to open your own restaurant, you'll have to become familiar with how a grease trap works. A grease trap is a big metal box that is somewhat similar to a septic tank. The water from your kitchen drains flows into the box, where the food particles and grease accumulate while the water flows on through the drain. The box has to be serviced regularly to keep it operational, and if it gets clogged or backs up, your restaurant will be filled with foul odors. To keep bad smell at bay and to stay on the good side of local inspectors, you want to take good care of your grease trap. Here are a few things to know.

Understand Local Regulations

The first thing you want to do is learn the regulations in your city for restaurant grease traps. There will probably be guidelines for the size of trap you need as well as how often it needs to be cleaned. There may even be stipulations as to how it can be cleaned. You might be able to do it yourself, or you may have to call a grease trap cleaning service like AAA Cesspool & Rooter Service to do the job. Also, learn about the paperwork required by your local jurisdiction. You may be required to check your trap on a regular basis with a wooden dowel to determine the amount of solid waste in it. Then, you'll be required to document when you clean it and any other maintenance you have done to it. This documentation should be up to date and available for local inspectors when they evaluate your restaurant during health inspections.

DIY Trap Cleaning

If you clean the trap yourself and the trap is indoors or near the front of the building, you want to do it when your restaurant is closed. That's because the traps have a very foul odor, and when the lid is removed, the surrounding area will take on a bad smell. The ideal situation is to install the trap outdoors near the trash bin and alley so it is out of sight and out of the range of your customers' smell. You'll need to wear old clothes and brace yourself for the smell you'll have to endure as you clean the trap.

First of all, you'll need to remove the lid. It's a metal plate or cover that is bolted on. Remove the bolt and check the gasket around it to make sure it isn't worn. When you remove the lid, check the gasket around it to make sure it is in good shape too. This prevents odors from escaping the trap. Next, take a minute to note the parts inside the trap so you can put it back together when you're finished cleaning it. You'll have to remove the baffles, which look like metal shelves, so you can clean them. Start by scooping out any water in the tank. You can save the water in a trash can and put it down the drain again once you've cleaned the tank. With the water gone, you'll see sludge on the bottom and sides of the tank. Scoop it out and put it in a plastic trash bag for disposal.

Use a scraper to remove all the sludge that's stuck to the walls of the trap. Scrape the sludge off of the baffles and then put them back into place. You want the grease trap to be clean so odors are kept under control, but it doesn't have to be spotless since it doesn't come into contact with food. Just don't use hot water to clean the tank, as that will soften the grease and allow it to flow down the drain.

Hire A Cleaning Service

You may decide it is best to go with a cleaning service. For one thing, it eliminates the need for you or an employee to be exposed to a messy and stinky grease trap. For another, it ensures you stay in compliance with local codes. If you clean the trap yourself, you'll dispose of the grease in the trash dumpster. However, if that is prohibited in your area, you'll need to let a cleaning service haul the grease away for proper disposal. A service cleans your trap in basically the same way, although they may use a vacuum to remove the grease into a pumper truck. Then the trap is cleaned with a wet vac. A cleaning service maintains the necessary documentation and keeps your trap serviced on schedule. If your restaurant has a large trap, then going with a cleaning service is probably the best idea.

No matter how you go about cleaning the grease trap in your kitchen, it's one job you don't want to let slide. If the level of grease gets too high, grease can leak into the drain, and that will cause all kinds of problems with clogs and slow drains. That could be a disaster if your kitchen drains back up during the busy dinner hour in your restaurant.  

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