Buying Cooking Equipment? Grease Trap Maintenance 101

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If you are interested in starting a food service business or interested in purchasing lots of cooking equipment for another purpose, you need to invest in a grease trap. If kitchens don't have a grease trap, then the grease can cause blockages in the sewer, disrupt wastewater operations, and increase your operating and maintenance costs. Read on to learn a little bit more about how a grease trap works, how they are maintained, and how some oils can be recycled.

How Does a Grease Trap Work?

While there are many types of grease traps on the market, they all have a similar goal: removing grease from water. Grease traps work by slowing the flow of water so that the oils can separate and float to the top of the trap. This is possible because grease and other oils are less dense than water. Once the grease has floated to the top of the trap, the water continues to flow down the pipes and into the sewer.

There are large grease traps called gravity grease interceptors which are "passive" components since the force of gravity is doing the work of separating the water and oil. There are also automatic grease traps and hydro-mechanical grease traps, which use vented flow control and are often used in foodservice establishments.

How are Grease Traps Maintained?

Some recycling and plumbing companies provide grease trap servicing and maintenance. Grease trap maintenance is similar to septic tank pumping since the floating oils and food solids at the bottom of the trap need to be pumped out periodically. Keep in mind that grease traps aren't disposal units; so there shouldn't be a lot of food debris at the bottom of the tank—most food particles should be scraped into the compost or the garbage.

Your cleaning schedule will mainly depend on how much cooking oil you use and how much grease you produce as well as how large your grease trap is. Some people may need maintenance a few times a year while other people may need cleaning every month.

How is the Grease Disposed of or Recycled?

When the grease cannot be reused, then a recycling service can take it to a landfill. Fats, oils, and grease are very good at biodegrading in these conditions, so it's better to have them thrown away instead of letting them damage wastewater systems. If grease can be recycled, then the services that maintain your system can take it to facilities where it will be processed to be reused for certain fuels. If this service is an option for you, it's a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Depending on the laws in your state, some cooking oil can be reused for cooking—but this is mainly done for personal use. For instance, once you finish frying some food, you could let the oil cool and then place the congealed pieces in a jar to reuse again.

Reach out to a recycling service in your area today to learn more about grease trap maintenance.