Does the question “how often should by grease trap be cleaned?” remind you of the question “did I leave the stove on?” It probably should. When we get this question, the answer usually is “a while ago.” Regardless if you have an existing trap or are planning an installation, this is a good question to get answered. We’re going to give you a few pointers on what are good rules of thumb for a full grease trap, as well as dangerous (and costly) situations to avoid, including if your current cleaning cycle means you need a new grease trap.
Using the 1/4ths Rule
While many grease traps are different, due to their mechanics there’s a rule of thumb that can allow you to assess if your trap needs to be serviced. By internationally recognized standards, a trap must be emptied after one-fourth (1/4th) of its contents has filled with FOGS (Fats Oils Grease & Solids). Why 1/4th? After that much of the trap has filled with this grease, the trap is no longer effective, meaning that the grease and oils you’re supposed to keep out of the pipes start to escape. Worse, your chance of blockages and overflows start to increase dramatically.
Figuring Out Your Maintenance Cycle
On average, a grease trap will need to be cleaned between every one to three months. It all depends on how quickly your trap reaches that 1/4th capacity with FOGS. That depends on both the capacity of your grease trap and the amount of grease your restaurant produces. If you find your restaurant is filling up your grease trap faster than a month, it’s time to look at resizing your grease trap to meet needs.
Pay Attention to County Ordinances
If you’re wondering why you have a grease trap in the first place, it’s due to state and local ordinances. Since they manage the local water systems and treatment plants, they have a vested interest in keeping blockages clear and water treatment flowing. Restaurant with no grease trap (or one so filled up it might as well not exist) can find themselves in hot water with their City, with large fines or even closure of their restaurant. Every county and city have their own laws concerning the maintenance cycle of grease traps. Make sure you know yours (or contact a professional who can tell you).
Best Management Practices: Dealing with FOGS “At Source”
If you’re looking at ways to reduce the amount of grease your restaurant produces, it’s time to look at how all that FOGS makes its way into the trap to start with. Below are some excerpts from our best management practices and informative blogs that are a good place to start:
- Scrape Everything: Scrape plates, utensils, cookware and everything else before washing, ideally into a compost receptacle.
- Plan for Spills: If you have a deep fryer or other high-oil cooking stations, it’s time to get a plan in place for oil spills to avoid washing it down the drain.
- Don’t Be Disposal Happy: A garbage disposal is a powerful tool, but it also creates more solids in FOGS and can emulsify oil that will cause it to defeat the grease trap.
Want to learn more about best management practices or schedule a consultation about your grease trap? Contact Food Grease Trappers. We’ve been servicing grease traps for Massachusetts and New Hampshire for over 20 years. While service is our primary line of work, we also like to consider ourselves as a total grease solutions company. We’ve encountered food grease problems of all kinds, and we’re happy to help you with yours!