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.