Grease Trap FAQ’s

Grease Trap, What is it?

Grease traps and grease interceptors are containers or receptacles located between the restaurant or food service drain lines and the municipal sewer lines. The Grease trap allows for the separation and collection of fats, oils and grease (FOG) and other organic materials from the wastewater, preventing the FOG’s from entering the municipal sewer system.

The grease trap is either a)located inside of the restaurant or b)located on  the outside of the restaurant. Typically larger restaurants and school kitchens will have their grease trap located outside of the facility, usually in the ground. Outside grease traps generally range in size from 1000 to 5000 gallons.  Facilities with smaller grease traps can usually house theirs indoors.

Why does a restaurant have a grease trap?

FOG causes all kinds of problems in municipal wastewater collection facility. These wastewater problems are typically in the lift stations and collection pipes. Most municipalities require commercial kitchens and restaurants to have a grease trap installed. Most municipalities will have a maximum amount of FOG that is acceptable in the waste water leaving an food establishment. If these minimums are exceeded, fines and surcharges can be imposed.

How do grease traps work?

Grease traps slow down the flow of water coming from drain lines, allowing the grease time to separate from the water. This separation causes the grease to come out of solutions and float to the top. Grease is lighter than water. Meanwhile other, heavier solids and inorganics, fall to the bottom of the trap. The remaining waste water is passes on to the city sewer lines.

How do I maintain my grease trap?

Proper grease trap maintenance is critical to have an efficiently operating trap. A number of problems, including grease trap odors,  can occur if the levels of  FOG and solids are not monitored. These trap problems can be:

  •  drain line blockages and back-ups
  •  foul grease trap odors will drive customers away
  •  too much FOG going to the sewer lines
  •  surcharges and fines.

Depending on the size of the grease trap, there are several different ways to clean the grease trap. Some state and local governments even have ordinances requiring that a grease trap be pumped out every so often. The first step, then,  to first check with local government to find out about grease trap local regulations.

Many restaurants that have smaller traps let their maintenance staff handle the grease trap.   This generally could involve manually shoveling, vacuuming, and moving out the accumulated greases and solids. It is important that if this is the step taken, any liquid waste be absorbed by an absorbent, like kitty litter, to ensure that the waste is picked up.

Restaurants with larger traps will usually employ the services of a professional grease pumper to maintain the grease trap when the FOG  gets too high. This is obviously easiest, but it can be costly especially if it is a weekly or monthly process.

An easier way to clean the trap and maintain FOG is the use of a bacterial additive such as a grease trap bacteria products. Custom GT is such a product and contains only harmless, all natural grease trap bacteria.

In addition to keeping grease minimized in the trap, and reducing pump outs and surcharges, bacteria can benefit drain lines in the restaurants as well. Mop’N Treat by Custom Biological works great in drain lines and floor drains.

Custom GT and Mop’N Treat are products of Custom Biologicals. Contact Custom to talk about your grease trap problems.



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