With so many restaurants and other kinds of establishments that serve and prepare food, it should come as no surprise that annually, more than 10 million tonnes of grease and other FOG waste goes down the drain. By that, we don’t mean that we’re wasting it – it literally goes down the drain and into the sewers. Now, unlike water and other substances that we dispose of in the sewers, FOG waste isn’t really easy to get rid of. It sticks to the walls of the pipes making it harder for other waste to go through it. It also builds up quite easily and does quite a lot of damage. In addition to all of that, to say that it isn’t good for the environment would be quite an understatement.
Luckily, we are aware of this. People have noticed and have put laws and regulations in place to deal with this issue. All across the globe, different nations have put laws into place regarding the disposal of fats, oils, and grease. Those laws state that the FOG waste shouldn’t go directly into the sewer system, rather into a contraption known as a grease trap.
If you don’t know what a grease trap is – don’t worry, we’ll go over it. To put it simply, it’s a contraption that is designed to separate water from fats. Those machines are required in many restaurants or other high-volume kitchens, to minimize the harmful impact of FOGs on the environment.
What’s A Grease Trap and How Does It Work?
As we’ve said – it’s a machine that basically ‘traps’ the fats, oils and grease. Contrary to the popular belief, this is a rather simple machine. It’s all about the density with this one. As you already know, fats have a lower density than water does, so when you mix them together, they float on top. This machine does that exactly. When you pour the waste down the drain, the machine slows down the flow to a point where the water is separated from the FOGs. From that point on, the water flows freely down the sewers and the oily waste stays in the machine.
Now that we know that this device does not actually do anything but separate fats and water – what happens with the leftovers? Where do they go? Well, nowhere. It stays in the contraption until it is time for cleaning. With that in mind, how do you know it’s time to clean the contraption and get rid of this waste? Well, let’s find out.
How Do You Know It’s Time To Clean?
Let’s take a look at some of the obvious signs that it’s time to empty out the contraption.
1. Slow Drainage
One of the easiest ways to spot a full grease trap is if you notice slow drainage. When you don’t empty out the grease trap, the extra waste overflows and clogs the drains. It sticks to the walls and blocks the free flow, resulting in slow drainage. If the plunger does not do the trick and unclogs it – it’s time to call someone up and have them clean out your device.
2. Foul Odour
If you notice a foul odour in your kitchen, it might not be coming from some groceries gone bad – it could be coming from down the drain. According to greasetrapjacksonville.com, a foul smell is one of the most common signs that your grease trap is up for cleaning. Now, you shouldn’t really wait for things to go this far, because this smell is not coming from fats themselves, rather decomposing foods that were trapped in the FOG. That could cause some potential health issues, so make sure you don’t wait too long.
3. Everything’s Greasy
Grease leaks are a real thing. When the trap gets full, it starts to overflow and the oily waste starts coming back. It will go back in pipes and back into your kitchen through various exits. If this happens, make sure you pick up the phone immediately, because it won’t get better on its own.
4. You Haven’t Done It In A While
Another great way to find out if you need to clean your grease trap is by taking a look at your calendar. If you haven’t cleaned the contraption in the last month, you’re already late, but there’s still time. The cleaning schedule will be dictated by how much fats you use in your kitchen. Fast food joints are far more likely to need grease trap cleaning than a vegan, plant-based restaurant. So, if you haven’t cleaned it in a while – it’s time. The waste didn’t magically disappear if you haven’t removed it. Just because it doesn’t smell or your drainage is good does not mean you shouldn’t clean it – you absolutely should.
5. It’s Quarter Full
The general rule of thumb is to clean the contraption once it gets 25% full. That’s the only rule you should be following if you’re dealing with regular, under-the-sink contraptions. Take a look from time to time, you’ll know when to look based on your FOG usage and clean it once it gets one-quarter full. That should keep everything flowing smoothly, nothing’s going to smell or get clogged and your kitchen will run like a well-oiled machine. We’re sorry (we’re really not) for the pun.
6. Your Gravity Traps Overflow
Some large-scale operations don’t use regular grease traps, because they’re simply not enough. Instead, they use so-called gravity traps – basically the same as the regular grease traps, only with a much larger tank that’s buried underground. Well, if you notice grease coming out of the manhole of your gravity trap – it’s time to call the cleaning service and empty out the tank.
As you can see, you can easily tell when the time for cleaning has come – you’ll either see or smell the signs. However, we do not encourage you to wait this long. You see, once you notice these signs, you’re kind of well past the point of when you were supposed to clean the contraption. So, our advice would be to have a cleaning schedule and stick to it. You can come to an agreement with the cleaning service on how often do you want your grease trap to be cleaned and they’ll follow that schedule to the day, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.