A Restaurant's Grease Trap: The importance of scheduling regular cleanings
October 20, 2020
Written by GAHFN Industry Partner, Patrick Agnew with Apex Environmental Services
It’s 8 O’clock on a Friday night and the restaurant is running on all cylinders with an hour wait at the door. Management is breaking a sweat running food to tables and the kitchen is a chaotic, synchronized war zone. The General Manager is just beginning to catch his breath when… the unthinkable happens. It starts with the kitchen floor drains as water begins to gurgle its way up and out onto the floor. In mere moments, the dish guy is screaming in panic as water begins pouring over the dish station rails and the tri-sinks swirl with dirty water that won’t drain. Servers begin to slip and slide on the slick kitchen floor as the water deepens and slowly creeps toward the dining room. Meanwhile, the parking lot is flooding with greasy, foul smelling waste water which pours out of the grease trap lids as customers flee in disgust. There is a grease blockage somewhere in the pipes. It’s going to be a long night, and it’s going to be a costly night. But it didn’t have to be.
The fact is, Grease blockages are the number one cause for plumbing system failures in restaurants and account for thousands of dollars in repair costs each year. In addition to plumbing repairs, a restaurant owner must also consider the potential risk and associated cost of an injured employee who may slip on a wet floor resulting from an overflow, loss of revenue if the restaurant has to shut down temporarily for repair, cleaning costs, carpet or flooring replacement costs, insurance costs, possible lawsuits and an unfavorable perception from the public. The list of unforeseeable costs can be quite extensive. The reason for grease blockages and overflows is usually because the grease trap has not been serviced on a regular scheduled basis, and grease has entered the sewer system.
While grease accumulation can create a host of serious problems for a restaurant owner or manager, the problem grows exponentially on down the line where it impacts municipal sanitary sewer systems and water treatment plants. Grease accumulates in the sewer lines over time and causes Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO), which have a serious impact on local streams and rivers. Municipalities are fined thousands of dollars by the Environmental Protection Department (a local division of the Environmental Protection Agency of the federal government) for each SSO that occurs. This is why most cities and counties have adopted stringent regulations and ordinances requiring food operators to pump their grease traps on a preventative basis and manage their wastewater responsibly before it enters the municipal sewer system, or otherwise suffer serious fines and/or legal action, including shutting down the restaurant.
Instead of asking, “how much is it costing me to have my grease trap serviced?’ food service operators should be asking the question “how much will it cost me if I don’t service my grease trap?”. Regular pumping and cleaning of the grease trap system is a part of standard operating procedure for any restaurant. Partnering with a reputable and reliable grease trap cleaning service provider is a smart business decision. Some important things to consider when seeking a service provider include: 1. Are they licensed and permitted to transport grease trap waste? 2. Do they provide a manifest for the waste collected? 3. Do they dispose of the waste in a res
ponsible manner, and where do they dispose of the waste?(remember, it is your waste and you are responsible for it from cradle to grave) 4. Do they provide a complete pump of all grease trap contents? 5. Do they offer “after hours” emergency service? 6. Do they guarantee their work? Your grease trap service provider should act as a liaison between you and the compliance inspector and serve as your advocate.
When it comes to grease traps, being proactive is the key to effective and responsible grease management. As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
Contact Patrick Agnew to schedule your grease trap cleaning today.
Apex Environmental Services