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Grease Trap Maintenance 101

Commercial grease interceptors, also known as a grease trap, are commonly found in restaurant kitchens, hospital kitchens, grocery store prep areas, and other food service establishments. If you have worked in one of these locations, you may be familiar with what a grease interceptor is. Or you may have even worked in one of these environments and not known there was a grease interceptor there at all. Whatever your background with grease interceptors may be, here is a complete guide for everything you need to know!

What is a Grease Interceptor/Trap?

Grease interceptors can go by many different names such as grease trap, grease pit, or even by their manufacturer names. Some businesses have an interior grease interceptor that is connected to a sink in a food prep area. These traps can be located above or below the ground and are made of metal or plastic. Because plastic doesn’t break down like metal does over time, we tend to replace grease traps that have rotted with plastic options so they last longer.

Some businesses also have exterior grease tanks which are located below ground. These tanks can be made of concrete and are often much larger than an interior trap. Exterior grease interceptors can hold anywhere from 2,000 to over 10,000 gallons of waste!

How are Grease Traps Used?

The purpose of a grease interceptor is to do just that, intercept grease! The interceptor has baffles, or walls, inside the trap that help to separate fats, oils, and grease (also known as FOG) from the water as it moves from the sink through the drain lines. Preventing grease from entering your drain lines is extremely important to keep your lines clear of any obstructions.

Servicing a Grease Trap

One of the most important things you can do is have your grease trap serviced on a regular basis. It is important that you hire a professional company to do this for you so that you know the grease is being disposed of properly.

So how do you tell when a grease trap needs to be cleaned? You should not wait until your grease trap is full as that can cause major issues to your plumbing. Allowing grease to build up in the trap overtime makes it so the grease has nowhere to go except for into your drain lines.

Ignoring your grease trap could lead to a dreaded “fatberg”, similar to what happened in Baltimore, Maryland. To avoid a fatberg, make sure to have your grease trap serviced regularly.

Wind River Environmental trains our technicians to fully inspect the grease trap at every service. This way we can recommend the best service frequency for each individual customer, whether it’s quarterly or monthly. We also consider local regulations which sometimes mandate a certain frequency. No worry trying to remember when your next service is due, Wind River can put you on an automatic frequency and call you in advance before we arrive.

What’s involved in a Grease Trap Service?

Wind River has a 14-point inspection service that we provide at the time of every inside grease trap cleaning:

  1. Inspect cover
  2. Inspect gaskets
  3. Inspect bolts
  4. Inspect rods
  5. Inspect baffle
  6. Inspect baskets
  7. Inspect for rust
  8. Check flow of trap
  9. Check for leaks
  10. Advise when Drain Cleaning Services are needed
  11. Inspect strainers
  12. Inspect screens
  13. Advise if frequency of maintenance should be changed
  14. Compile a complete condition report on every visit

Our technician notes the condition of the grease trap, service frequency recommendations, and takes before and after pictures of the trap. All of this information is extremely valuable in keeping good care of your grease interceptor. This information is emailed to you once the service is closed in our system.

Grease Best Practices

Pouring grease down a drain line can cause major backups. As the grease hardens in the line, the line gets narrower. This inhibits the flow of water through the line and overtime can cause water to overflow back up into the sink or onto the floor through a clean out cover.

So what can you do to prevent backups in your restaurant? First start by educating your employees, letting them know the risks of pouring grease or food scraps into the sink. Knowing how to keep fats, oils, and grease out of your drain lines will help you in the low run.

Next, contact a trusted service provider to schedule regular maintenance. Wind River Environmental takes the guess work out of when to service your grease trap by placing our customers on an automatic frequency for service based on the condition of the trap as well as local regulation.

Grease Trap Replacements

Eventually, a grease trap needs to be replaced. Many grease traps are made out of metal which can corrode overtime. If there is excessive rust to the grease trap, it is probably time to replace it. Metal grease traps have a typical lifespan on 5-7 years before it needs to be replaced. The last thing you would want is to have waste water leaking out of the trap into the foundation of your business!

Depending on the location of the grease trap, it might qualify to be replaced with a plastic grease trap rather than another metal trap. The benefit of a plastic trap is that it will not corrode overtime like a metal trap does.