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Why Your Business Should Switch to Waterless Urinals

four waterless urinals on bathroom wall

Are you looking for ways for your business to save money and help the environment? You may be surprised that the answer could lurk in your restrooms! Many companies, from medical facilities to restaurants and stadiums, are switching to waterless urinals, which can reduce water usage by thousands of gallons per toilet every year. They’re easy to install and can integrate into existing bathrooms, so whether you are planning a new build or looking to retrofit an existing restroom, waterless urinals can be the cost-saving, environmentally-friendly solution you were looking for.

What is a Waterless Urinal?

When a traditional urinal is emptied using a flushing mechanism, water is introduced to the basin to move the urine through the drain. Waterless urinals work differently. When someone uses a waterless, or no-flush, urinal, the urine flows to the drain without the use of water. The drain is fitted with a specifically designed cartridge to handle the odors associated with urine. These cartridges employ a variety of patented technologies that incorporate traps and oil based barriers to keep the urine smells out of the bathroom.

While the functionality of a waterless urinal is different, the look of the urinal is quite similar. In fact, you may have seen or used a no-flush urinal without even realizing it! They can be purchased in fiberglass, stainless steel, and vitreous China, and most waterless urinals are designed to fit into conventional and existing plumbing systems. This means making the switch to waterless is easier than you think.

The Benefits of Using Waterless Urinals for Your Business

Save Money
According to the EPA, older traditional urinals can use up to 26,000 gallons of water per year. At the same time, newer models are now restricted to 1 gallon per flush, which could quickly add up, especially in public spaces with heavy restroom usage. The alternative is a waterless urinal, which uses only a few gallons of water per year for cleaning and maintenance. This drastic reduction in utility costs could allow you to invest in and grow other areas of your business.

Increase Hygiene
While it can be unpleasant to think about, traditional toilets and urinals spray particulates into the air every time they are flushed. Users are also exposed to bacteria and microbes when they pull down on the flushing mechanism. Waterless urinals provide a no-touch solution for users, and bacteria remain in the basin itself, not the air. Increased hygiene in the bathroom could impact your employees’ health and your patients’ safety over time.

Reduce Odors
Have you ever walked past a public bathroom and smelled urine, even while the door was closed? That’s because flushable urinals spray urine particles throughout the air, and the standard odor control, the urinal cake, may not catch all of the urine as it travels toward the drain. The drain in a waterless urinal is designed to control odors. Once the urine moves through the cartridge, it, and the odor that comes with it, is sealed tightly in the drain pipe. This means no one outside the bathroom should catch a lingering smell.

Simplify Maintenance
The waterless urinal’s simple design is one of its best features. Without a flushing mechanism, water tank, or flapper, the need for repairs is minimal. Regular replacement of the cartridge and seal, along with minor cleaning, is all that is needed to keep your waterless urinal working effectively for years to come.

The Environmental Impacts of Switching to Waterless Urinals

Everyone understands the importance of water conservation, but making changes to our daily habits, from watering the lawn less frequently to taking quicker showers, aren’t always easy or enjoyable. Fortunately, switching to waterless urinals isn’t just simple, it’s beneficial to your business, and the impact will be huge. Imagine saving 26,000 gallons of water per toilet per year!

The U.S. Green Building Council recognizes this impact, as well. If you are looking to qualify for LEED certification, installing waterless urinals will help your business earn credits for water reduction. Your water utility company may even offer rebates or incentives for making the switch to a no-flush system.

Consider Waterless Urinals for Your Business

Installing waterless urinals provides many benefits to both your business and the environment. Are you looking for a solution backed by years of proven technology? The Purleve ZeroFlush Urinal, in combination with Purleve Liquid Odor Barrier and Purleve EnviroSeal, is a waterless system that is easy to install and even easier to maintain. As your utility bills drop, you’ll have peace of mind, knowing that you aren’t just saving money, you’re benefitting the environment as well.

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What Size Grease Trap Does Your Commercial Kitchen Need?

commercial kitchen

Whether you own a restaurant or commercial kitchen, a grease trap is an essential part of its day-to-day functions. As you prepare food and wash dishes, wastewater makes its way into your drains and plumbing. The grease trap is designed to catch the fats, oils, and greases (or FOG) from the water, keeping it from creating a clog in the line later on. But what size grease trap is right for your business? These guidelines can help you decide.

Why Size Matters

As a business owner, time and money are important considerations in any decision. If you install a grease trap that is too small for your commercial kitchen needs, it could result in frequent overflows and take employees away from their regular duties to clean the mess. You could also find yourself scheduling more frequent pumpings. While erring on the larger side makes sense, choosing a grease trap that is much larger than needed could tighten the budget in other areas.

How to Determine the Right Size Grease Trap

You may be able to find a sizing calculator online, but this is the basic formula for determining the size and capacity of your grease trap.

  1. Calculate the capacity of your sink by multiplying the length, width, and depth, in inches. If you have multiple compartments or sinks, add the capacity of each sink together to find the total cubic inches.
  2. Convert the capacity from cubic inches to gallons per minute (GPM) by dividing that number by 231.
  3. Next, adjust for displacement, which determines the actual useable capacity of your sink, which is usually about 75% of the entire capacity. Multiply your GPM by 0.75 for the GPM Actual Drainage Load.
  4. If local code requires it, you may need to do the same with your dishwashers, adding this GPM Actual Drainage Load to the number you calculated in Step 3.
  5. Determine the flow rate and drainage period. For most commercial kitchens, the drainage period is 1 minute, though it could be 2 minutes in certain applications. Divide the number you calculated in Step 3 (or Step 4 if you’ve included dishwashers) and divide it by the drainage period. This number is the flow rate.
  6. Finally, consult the standard grease trap sizing chart and select the right size grease trap for your unique commercial kitchen. If the flow rate you calculated isn’t listed, round up to the nearest 5.
grease-trap-sizing
Photo courtesy of drain-tech.com

Other Factors to Consider

Shared Grease Traps

Many restaurants and commercial kitchens actually share a grease trap with other businesses in the building. This is quite common in shopping centers and malls, for instance. If your business will be on a shared grease trap, it’s likely a plumbing expert will survey the businesses and determine the right size grease trap for you and your neighboring businesses to use.

Local Codes and Regulations

Local governments often set their own codes and guidelines for grease trap sizing, though many follow the Uniform Plumbing Code, or UPC. One big factor that local codes dictate is whether dishwashers should be attached to grease traps or not. When dishwashers are attached, you’ll need a larger grease trap to manage water capacity and reduce the risk of overflowing.

What’s Being Made

Grease traps are installed to catch the fats, oils, and greases that end up in a commercial kitchen’s wastewater. However, the amount of FOG that can make it into the wastewater could vary greatly from business to business. For instance, a sub shop will probably produce less grease than a restaurant serving burgers and fries. If your kitchen will be handling more FOG than average, you may want to consider sizing up on your grease trap.

Keeping Your Grease Trap Working Effectively

No matter what size grease trap you install, it will need to be maintained and pumped on a regular basis. If you’re interested in extending the time between pumpings, however, you may want to consider adding a bacteria-based product to your grease trap regularly. Once bacteria are added to the tank, they get to work completely digesting the FOG inside.

BioOne offers an effective bacteria-based liquid product that is safe for use in restaurants and commercial kitchens. You can also purchase a programmable auto-injection system that meters the correct amount of liquid to keep the lines flowing. This allows you to focus on running your business, not pumping your grease trap.

Sizing the Grease Trap for Your Commercial Kitchen

While it’s important to install the right grease trap for your commercial kitchen or restaurant needs, determining the right size can be challenging. Use the formula listed above or use an online calculator to learn the recommended size for your business. Then consider other factors, like whether you’ll be sharing the grease trap with other businesses or if you plan to use more fats, oils, and greases in your cooking. It’s important to consult and follow local codes as well. Once your grease trap is installed, add a bacteria-based product regularly to ensure it runs effectively for years to come.

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Reducing Restaurant Costs by Better Managing Grease

Commercial Kitchen

The grease trap is an important part of every commercial kitchen, even if most people don’t know it’s there. The tank itself is usually not an expensive investment. Just be sure to purchase the right size tank for your business, usually set by local building codes. When the grease trap is working properly, however, costs for pumping, repairs, and even fines can be drastically reduced.

Improving Restaurant Grease Management

Clean Your Grease Trap Periodically
The grease trap in your restaurant or commercial kitchen will only function properly if it’s cleaned on a regular basis. When it’s not cleaned and serviced in a timely often enough, fats, oils, and greases, or FOG, could make its way into the drain line, where it will quickly solidify, creating clogs and backups in other areas of your kitchen. A full grease trap will also emit an unpleasant odor that can not only turn away customers, but attract rodents and bugs as well.

How often you need to clean a grease trap is determined by a number of factors, including the size of the tank itself and the amount of grease used in the kitchen’s food preparation. Cities and municipalities often have cleaning requirements, as well. Many will require you to clean your tank when FOG accumulation reaches 25 percent of the tank.

Properly Train Employees
Employees often serve as grease managers, whether they realize it or not. Chefs, prep cooks, dishwashers, and even wait staff may all come in contact with—and dispose of—FOG. Because of this, everyone working in your restaurant or commercial kitchen must understand the importance of grease management. Be sure that the staff knows where to dispose of grease and put cleaning protocols in place to ensure that a minimal amount of FOG ends up in drain pipes. Failing to educate employees could result in plumbing issues and even costly fines later on.

Select the Right Cleaning Products
Your grease trap works best when the FOG inside is broken down and ingested by the bacteria in the tank. Unfortunately, many common cleaning products, from liquid drain cleaners to the laundry detergent used to wash napkins and tablecloths, could kill off this much-needed bacteria. When this happens, FOG will accumulate quickly, leading to not only more frequent cleaning, but potential plumbing problems as well.

Consider introducing a natural, bacteria-based product to your grease trap. Once injected, the bacteria goes straight to work, completely digesting fats, oils, and greases. Because the FOG is quickly broken down, it’s less likely to end up in drain pipes, decreases the frequency of cleanings, and even reduces the foul odors that can sometimes come from full grease traps.

Proper Grease Management Can Reduce Restaurant Costs

When grease traps are cleaned frequently, the process is fairly simple and straightforward. When FOG is left to build up inside the tank, however, cleaning becomes more difficult, and therefore, more costly. Fats, oils, and greases harden as they accumulate, coating the inside of the tank and drainage pipes. Just as grease is challenging to remove from kitchen equipment and cookware, it is both time and labor intensive to remove from grease traps and drain lines. Many service providers will charge additional fees for these services, which could exceed the costs that you would have incurred for regular, periodic cleanings. Managing the FOG in your grease trap before it builds up is likely to result in much lower grease management costs over time.

When a grease trap overflows, it not only has dire consequences for your commercial kitchen, it can also have significant impacts on the environment, including your city’s wastewater and stormwater drainage systems. For this reason, government agencies often impose fines on businesses when grease traps overflow. Depending on where your business is located, you can expect to pay $1000 or more in fines each time this happens. Improved grease management will help your business avoid this unnecessary problem.

When a grease trap isn’t well managed, the repair costs could go beyond simply cleaning the tank. Grease is a leading cause of drain clogs in commercial kitchens and restaurants. When clogs in drain lines begin to back up into sink drains and dishwashers, you can expect expensive plumbing repairs, and potentially lost sales as well, if the kitchen must shut down. You may also need to replace the grease trap altogether. With proper maintenance and management, however, your drain lines are less likely to clog, and you can expect your tank to last up to 10 years.

Grease Management for Restaurants

While it may not seem as high a priority as managing inventory, preparing delicious food, or providing quality customer service, grease management can have a direct impact on your bottom line. When your grease trap isn’t properly maintained, your restaurant or commercial kitchen could be shelling out thousands in service fees and fines, not to mention the potential for lost sales due to foul odors or kitchen shutdowns. Clean your grease traps frequently, train employees to dispose of grease properly, and use bacteria-based products to keep FOG buildup down and avoid costly repairs. Doing so will reduce costs and keep your grease trap functioning properly for years to come.

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Is Your Restaurant Grease Trap Constantly Plugged?

Commercial Kitchen

Restaurant owners are in business to provide delicious food and service to their customers, not to conduct regular maintenance on their grease traps. However, grease traps perform an important role in any commercial kitchen, and forgetting to clean them could lead to some pretty unpleasant consequences for your employees and guests. It’s important to know the signs of a filling grease trap, and how to clean it before problems start to arise in your kitchen, restrooms, and dining area.

How to Determine if Your Trap Needs Cleaning

Slow Moving Drainage
Fats, oils, and greases (or FOG) typically enter your wastewater system as liquids, but will then begin to accumulate and solidify. Over time, then, you’ll begin to notice slow drainage, not just in your commercial kitchen, but in your restaurant’s bathroom sinks and toilets as well. This is a clear sign that your grease trap is in need of cleaning. Waiting could eventually lead to clogs and backups in your sinks and drains.

Foul Smells
When FOG sits in your grease trap for an extended period of time, a foul smell will develop. If you notice an odor lingering in your kitchen—or worse, your dining room—a full grease trap could be the culprit.

Grease is Leaking
Grease will find its way out of your drains and pipes one way or another. If your grease trap is full or clogged, you may notice grease leaking out of your sinks, water lines, and pipes. When this happens, the grease trap should be cleaned as soon as possible.

The Trap is More than a Quarter Full
When your grease trap is full, cleaning will not only become more urgent but also more challenging. Instead, plan to clean your grease trap when it is only a quarter full. Doing so at this point could also help you avoid many of the unpleasant side effects listed above.

How to Unclog and Clean a Grease Trap

Regular cleaning and maintenance of your grease traps will help prevent slow drainage, foul odors, clogs, and leaks. Determine a time every week (or more frequently, if your traps clog quickly) to perform maintenance on your grease traps. Keep in mind, the job can get messy, so you’ll want to wait until your establishment is closed. Consider wearing coveralls to protect your clothing and a mask to help with the smell, as well. Then follow these steps to ensure your trap is cleaned properly:

  1. Once you’ve located the grease trap and removed the lid (slowly, so as not to splatter excess grease), you will need to measure the amount of grease currently in the trap. To do this, stick a ruler into the trap until it hits the bottom. Then record how many inches of grease are in the tank in the FOG report provided by the EPA.
  2. Next, you’ll need to remove the water inside the tank. Depending on how much water is present, you may be able to do this with a small bucket. If there’s a significant amount of water inside, a pump may be most effective at removing all the liquid. Set the water aside for later.
  3. Use a large bucket, shovel, or heavy-duty scooper to remove the FOG from the trap. Once the bulk of the grease is out, scrape down the sides and bottom of the trap to get as much out as possible.
  4. Scrub the interior of the grease trap and all its parts with a degreaser. Be sure to remove and flush the screens out as well.
  5. Once the trap is clean and reassembled, you can add the water to the trap again and replace the lid.

Keep Your Grease Trap Working Effectively

As a restaurant owner or a commercial kitchen manager, it can be frustrating when your grease trap is frequently clogged, slowing down the productivity in your kitchen and potentially creating an unpleasant experience for your guests. You can’t avoid the task of cleaning a grease trap, but you may be able to increase the time between cleanings without experiencing some of these side effects.

Consider using a bacteria-based product like Bio One to keep your grease trap functioning properly. When bacteria are introduced to the trap, they will begin working to completely digest the fats, oils, and greases in your trap. The food waste is then converted into carbon dioxide and water. Understandably, it can be challenging to remember to add the product to your busy commercial kitchen. Our auto-injection system will automatically meter the correct amount of Bio One into the drain lines to avoid clogs and backups. This could decrease the frequency of your grease trap cleanings and will allow you and your employees to focus on making delicious food for your customers.

How Often Should a Commercial Grease Trap be Cleaned?

   Cleaning a grease trap costs time and money, both valuable commodities to a business owner. However, cleaning and maintaining your grease trap is essential to running your restaurant or commercial kitchen. So what’s the magic number? Read on to learn more about how often your grease traps should be cleaned.

How Often Should You Clean Your Commercial Size Grease Trap?

     Most manufacturers recommend that grease traps should be cleaned every 1 to 3 months. Just how often will depend on a variety of factors, including the size of the grease trap and the amount of grease disposed of on a daily basis. To determine how frequently to clean your trap, use the ¼ rule. When a quarter of your grease trap is filled with fats, oils, and greases, or FOG, it needs to be cleaned. Once your interceptor surpasses that capacity, it’s less effective at eliminating grease from wastewater, allowing other problems to follow.

     There are two common signs that your grease trap needs to be cleaned. One of the signs is that you will start to see fruit flies around the openings of your floor drains. The second sign is a foul odor caused by the accumulation of rancid fats, cooking oils, and foods. The odor is often strong, permeating throughout the kitchen, and even making its way into a restaurant’s dining area. Another sign that your grease trap is full is slow drainage. When FOG accumulates in your grease traps, it begins to solidify. This buildup decreases water flow and may eventually lead to clogs as well. You may also notice grease in areas you shouldn’t, like sinks, water lines, and pipes. This indicates that grease is backing up in the trap, and finding alternative exits.

     Even if your grease trap isn’t ¼ full, you may still need to clean it. Some cities and counties have regulations in place to dictate the time between grease trap cleanings. Failing to follow these guidelines could result in fines or lost business, so it’s important to do so regardless of trap capacity.

Best Practices for Keeping a Grease Trap Clean

Rather than waiting until a grease trap is overcapacity, causing problems like clogs and odors, it’s best to put these practices in place:

  • Cleaning Your Grease Trap Regularly – Depending on where you live, this may be law, but even if it’s not, keeping your grease trap clean helps your commercial kitchen to run more efficiently, with no shutdowns that reduce productivity or foul odors that disturb guests.
  • Recycle Waste Cooking Oil – This is both an eco-friendly and budget-friendly solution. Rather than paying to have your used cooking oil pumped and dumped, you can actually make money by recycling it with a company that will turn it into biodiesel fuel.
  • Dry Wipe Cookware and Dishes Before Cleaning – Using this method before rinsing in the sink or loading it into the dishwasher reduces the amount of grease entering the trap, which leads to less frequent cleanings.
  • Use Strainers in Drains – Solid food can cause problems in pipes in the same way FOG can. Strainers reduce the risk of solid food and solidified grease getting stuck in pipes, and it’s easier to remove these solids from strainers before they make their way into grease interceptors.
  • Don’t Pour Grease Down Sinks or Toilets – Avoid putting grease directly down sink drains or down toilets when possible. This keeps grease out of your internal plumbing and may also reduce the frequency of cleaning.
  • Cover Outdoor Grease Containers – If you store your grease containers outside, be sure to cover them. Uncovered containers can fill with rainwater and overflow, sending fats, greases, and oils into storm drains.

Using Bacterial Cleaners to Maintain a Clean Grease Trap

     Biological cleaners are a safe choice for commercial kitchens and restaurants concerned about using harsh chemicals and cross-contamination. There are many enzyme-based cleaners on the market today, but unfortunately, they only liquefy FOG, allowing it to flow downstream where it can resolidify, often in an outgrowing pipe. Bacterial cleaners, on the other hand, are extremely effective at degrading FOG in grease traps. Rather than liquefying the waste, they completely digest it, converting it to water and carbon dioxide that can freely flow through pipes and into the sewer line.

     Because bacterial cleaners completely digest fats, oils, and greases, they won’t accumulate as quickly. Foul odors from rancid FOG are reduced, and pumping may be needed less frequently as well. With regular use of bacterial cleaners, your grease trap will work more effectively, too, resulting in fewer clogs and backups.

Cleaning Commercial Grease Traps

     When a grease trap isn’t cleaned regularly, it can cause a variety of issues for your commercial kitchen or restaurant, from foul odors that can make their way into the dining area to slow drainage in sinks and toilets. Don’t wait until a problem arises to clean and maintain your grease trap. Use the ¼ rule to determine when to clean it. If you find that you are cleaning your grease trap more frequently than you’d like, you may want to size up, but don’t wait longer than 90 days to clean your grease traps either. A bacterial cleaner can decrease the frequency of cleanings and help to eliminate odors. Regular use will help to maintain a clean grease trap and a productive kitchen.

Commercial Restaurant Problems from Fat, Oil and Grease (FOG)

fats and oils

Backed Up Drains

  • Expensive Slip and Falls
  • Potential Worker’s Compensation Claims
  • Emergency Pumping
  • Health Code Violations
  • Business Interruptions
  • Unsanitary Conditions

Offensive Odors

  • Unappetizing
  • Decreased Customer Traffic
  • Bad Advertising
  • Poor Work Environment

Drain Flies

  • Gives Impression of Poor Housekeeping and Lack of Hygiene
  • Annoying to Customers

Municipal Fines and Charges