All commercial and residential properties should follow guidelines to ensure that sewage removal and treatment systems remain functioning effectively. One of the common recommendations is that grease or oils should never be flushed down drains.
This is because grease will solidify at cooler temperatures, which are often found inside the pipes of a septic system or municipal sewage system. This solidification can result in clogs, leading to sewage backups and other potentially serious damage.
A grease trap is designed to help prevent this problem. Also known as a grease interceptor, a grease trap can be an effective way to block fat, oil, and grease (FOG) before they can enter the system. In fact, some building codes require installing a grease trap in certain applications.
How Does a Grease Trap Work?
Wastewater flowing through a sewage or septic system gets impeded by a grease trap, which essentially slows down the flow of the liquid. As the warm water cools in the grease trap, grease and oils start to float to the top, while the remaining water flows down the pipe into the sewer.
Grease traps come in different sizes for different purposes. Smaller versions for individual sinks may be installed indoors, while larger ones that can serve entire establishments are usually located outside or underground. Proper sizing is important in ensuring that the grease cap properly serves the intended function.
Grease Trap Maintenance
While a grease trap can be an important component in any commercial or residential septic system, it is important to maintain them properly. Here is what you can expect from a septic grease trap cleaning:
Residential Grease Trap Cleaning
A residential grease trap is a tank through which the kitchen’s wastewater flows as it moves toward the septic tank. In many cases, it would be installed beneath the kitchen sink, but in some cases could also be placed outside the home.
Grease traps are used less frequently in residences than in commercial applications, but they were common in homes in certain parts of the country in the past.
Grease traps are useful in homes where the owners cook frequently, as they prevent fats, oils, and grease from ever reaching the septic system. This minimizes the potential for clogged or blocked pipes.
Here is a helpful tip for preventing grease problems in homes – can it, cool it, trash it. After cooking with grease, pour it into a metal container to cool, and then dispose of it in the trash.
Commercial Grease Trap Maintenance
Restaurants, food service facilities, and commercial kitchens can create large volumes of wastewater on a daily basis, and some of that may be filled with fats, oils, or grease (FOG). This presents a potential problem, because the FOG can solidify and cause damage.
A grease trap separates the FOG from the water through a series of baffled chambers. This allows the water that continues to flow into the sewage pipe to be clear of grease. Minimizing the amount of grease is important, whether the facility has an onsite septic system or uses a municipal sewer system.
Grease traps for restaurants or commercial kitchens are typically located outside, possibly in the ground, but can also sometimes be found in a basement.
Because of the high volume of wastewater produced in non-residential facilities, septic grease cap cleaning should be done frequently. It is generally suggested that a professional kitchen septic grease trap cleaning be scheduled once every month to every three months, or when the trap is at 25% capacity.
While it is advisable to have a professional septic company do commercial or restaurant grease trap servicing, there are things that can be done to keep things running smoothly between each grease trap pumping:
- Recycle excess grease, and NEVER pour grease directly into the drain. A grease trap is intended to remove modest amounts of FOG from wastewater, not to handle large quantities of grease.
- Avoid or minimize the use of garbage disposals. Food waste can end up getting trapped in the grease trap, causing it to reach capacity much faster than necessary.
- Clear food off plates, bowls, pots, and pans before putting them into the dishwasher.
- Be sure that the grease trap is the right size for the level of usage and that it is installed properly.
- Create a schedule for regularly checking and cleaning out the grease trap, both on your own and by a professional.
Most professionals suggest avoiding products that make dubious claims about breaking down grease in your grease trap. These products often result simply in breaking down the FOG in the grease trap, only to have it solidify further down the pipe. This merely serves to move the blockage further away, but does not eliminate the problem.
What Happens in Grease Trap Cleaning?
When professional septic services clean a grease trap, here are the general steps they follow:
- Remove the cover of the grease cap.
- Remove the baffles and other internal components to allow access.
- Measure the amount of fat, oil, and grease in the grease trap using a measuring stick.
- Remove the liquid from the grease trap.
- Transfer the FOG to a container for removal and disposal.
- Clean the grease cap.
- Reassemble the components and replace the cover.
Is Grease Trap Maintenance Really Necessary?
An estimated 5,000 – 17,000 sanitary sewer overflows per year are caused by fats, oils, and grease. In addition to the obvious issues that sewer overflows present to a home or business, these discharges can cause public health and water quality problems.
Because of the seriousness of these problems, many states and some counties and municipalities have regulations about the proper discharge of FOG. Failure to comply with regulations can result in fines.
Septic and Drainfield Services
For all your septic and drainfield needs, contact the most trusted Lakeland septic company – Septic and Drainfield Depot. Our septic services include residential and commercial septic tank pumping, septic and drainfield installation, inspection and repair, and lift stations.