If you own a commercial kitchen or restaurant, you understand the importance of a well-functioning grease trap. In order for your grease trap to function properly, it will need to be cleaned regularly. But how much does it cost, and how often will it need to be pumped? Those answers rely on a variety of factors, but the basics are laid out below.
The Cost of Not Cleaning Your Grease Trap
As a business owner, budget is probably always at the forefront of your mind. While paying to have your grease trap cleaned may not seem like the most worthwhile expense, it’s certainly an important one. When a grease trap is not cleaned properly or frequently, you may end up paying more to have the grease trap fixed.
In addition to repair costs, there are some non-monetary expenses as well. For example, a full grease trap could begin to back up into your commercial kitchen’s drains. This could result in a closure of the kitchen and loss of sales during that time. Guests may also begin to smell foul odors as the gasses from inside the trap make their way into the kitchen and restaurant. For those reasons, it’s important to prioritize grease trap cleaning in your budget.
How Often Should a Grease Trap be Cleaned?
The answer to this question is determined by the size and location of the grease trap, as well as local government regulations. Indoor grease traps are smaller in size, and they should be cleaned every month. Even those with mechanical skimmers will still need regular cleanings, as solids settle on the bottom of the tank.
Outdoor grease interceptors, on the other hand, are much larger in capacity. It’s standard practice to have your outdoor grease traps cleaned once a quarter. However, city guidelines may require more frequent cleanings. Regardless of these general timelines, if you smell foul odors or experience drain backups in your commercial kitchen, it’s probably best to have your grease trap cleaned.
Factors that Determine Cost
Grease trap cleanings can vary in cost, based on a variety of different factors. The most common factors that impact price include:
- Size: The size of a grease trap could vary widely, from 50 gallons for a small, indoor interceptor to 1500 gallons for a newer, outdoor interceptor. As size increases, the cost to clean the unit will increase as well.
- Location: Easily accessed grease traps will incur a lower cleaning cost than those in densely populated or hard-to-reach areas.
- Time since last cleaning: If a grease trap has been poorly maintained, it will take significantly more time and effort to empty and clean it. Regular maintenance can reduce overall costs and cut down on downtime in your commercial kitchen, as well.
- Service provider and plan: Costs could vary from service provider to service provider. Consider getting estimates before committing to service. In addition, you may likely pay a reduced fee if you set up service on an ongoing basis, rather than requesting one-time service.
What You Can Expect to Pay
With the previous factors taken into consideration, you can expect to pay between $125-$180 for regularly scheduled monthly cleanings of an indoor grease trap. When it comes to outdoor grease interceptors, prices range from $225 to $315 each time. Keep in mind, however, that outdoor grease traps may only need to be cleaned once every three months.
Tips to Keep Your Grease Trap Working Effectively
While regular cleaning should always be a priority, there are habits you can put in place to ensure your grease trap is working effectively and won’t require additional cleaning or repairs. While grease traps are designed to catch grease before it makes its way into the water system, dumping large amounts of oil down the drain can quickly overload your trap and create clogs in your pipes. Dispose of oils from frying in containers instead.
You may also want to consider adding a bacteria-based product to your grease trap regularly. Once the bacteria are introduced to the interceptor, they get right to work fully digesting the fats, oils, and greases (or FOG) inside. This will help to maintain the levels inside the tank and cut down on emergency cleanings.
The Cost of Cleaning a Grease Trap
While costs vary depending on the size and location of your grease trap, along with the service plan you have, you can expect to pay between $125-$315 each time your grease trap is cleaned. Indoor traps should be cleaned monthly, but outdoor traps, which are much bigger in size, can usually be cleaned once a quarter. To avoid extra cleanings, maintain your trap properly and add a bacteria-based product often. While the cost of cleaning your grease trap can seem steep, the cost of not cleaning your grease trap can be much greater.