Five Signs Your Grease Trap Needs Repairs

Food service establishments in Oregon are required to have grease traps connected to all kitchen fixtures. An FSE includes motel/hotel kitchens, restaurants, food carts, prisons, nursing homes, school cafeterias, and cafes, This rule applies to new constructions, redevelopment, changes in ownership, or kitchen upgrades. If you own a restaurant in Oregon and don’t have a grease trap, you should.

If you do have one, how often do you have it maintained and inspected? Rules are every 30 days for a hydromechanical grease interceptor or 90 days for a gravity grease interceptor. The FOG report must be filed with the city within 14 days.

When you have your grease trap clean and maintained regularly, it’s less likely to experience sudden problems. You’ll know if there are possible issues on the horizon. In addition to regular maintenance, make sure you know the five signs that your grease trap needs repairs.

Sinks and Drains Are Clogged or Draining Slowly

Are your sinks draining slowly? Do you notice that your drain when washing dishes doesn’t work unless you get a plunger? That’s a clear indicator that something is wrong with your grease trap or pipes leading to it.

You need to have your grease trap cleaned and inspected. If you need to have your pipes cleared out, that will restore regular water flow. What you don’t want is for the clog to travel farther down and create a problem nearer to a sewer line. If you need to have a sewer camera run down to find the clog or have an auger run down a pipe, it’s going to cost a lot more money in the long run.

Do not pour boiling vinegar down a pipe to melt grease. It will go down the pipe and loosen the clog, but it’s going to cool down eventually and create a new clog farther down the line.

Foul Odors Fill the Air Near Your Grease Trap

When a grease trap is working correctly, you won’t notice an odor. If you find your storeroom, basement, or outdoor area smells foul, there’s a problem.

When a grease trap is working correctly, food particles sink to the bottom, FOG floats to the top, and the water between each layer flows out the pipe. The microorganisms that are busy breaking down the sludge at the bottom produce sulfuric and hydrogen gasses. That rotten egg smell doesn’t enter your kitchen because you have a P-trap that prevents the gas from getting through.

If a P-trap is dried or broken, the odor will come from your drains and into your storeroom, kitchen, etc. It’s important to find out why the P-trap is broken or dried out. With water regularly running down it, it shouldn’t dry out. You could have a leak at one of the connections that a plumber should address.

The same problem can occur if the organic matter in your grease trap fills up so much that it breaks a seal. Routine grease trap cleanings prevent this problem from occurring.

Insect and Rodent Infestations Are Occurring

Ants, cockroaches, flies, and larder beetles are just a few of the insects that may infest your kitchen to get at grease and food particles spilling from drains or backing up in sinks. Rodents are another problem.

An insect infestation can destroy your food service establishment. Not only can it impact a restaurant inspection, but if any gets into the food you serve, patrons will share their stories and warn others from using your restaurant. If a rat or mouse runs through your restaurant in the middle of a dinner service, you’ll find every diner leaves and it’s unlikely they’ll pay their bill before walking out.

A clean kitchen and storage area is an essential step in avoiding insect infestations and temporary, costly restaurant closures. It’s your responsibility to clean counters, cooktops and ovens, floors, drains, sinks, storage areas, and every other surface that may be greasy or covered in crumbs. A grease trap should be part of your kitchen cleanup. You don’t have to clean and maintain it, but you should visually check it daily to ensure there are no visible issues or signs of infestation nearby.

You’re Finding Leaks Around the Grease Trap

You’ve noticed water leaking from around your grease trap. Don’t ignore that. It may be a leak from a hole that’s formed in the grease trap or where a pipe enters or leaves the grease trap. If you see any leaking water, oil, or sludge, it’s an issue that you need to address.

Not only is a leak a problem that you need to have fixed, but you also need to keep the area clean. The sludge that could be leaking from your grease trap carries a lot of bacteria. It’s unsafe and could lead to your kitchen getting shut down.

Pipes Are Clogged or Burst

Pipes may get clogged if food particles and grease are leaving a grease trap. The clog will slow down water flow. You might notice your grease trap doesn’t drain as quickly and drains in your restaurant or food service businesses overflow.

One of the worst signs is if you have a pipe that is so badly clogged that it bursts. If the clog is too thick, the pressure that builds up behind the clog will find a way to relieve the pressure, and that may mean bursting.

Depending on the area of the ruptured pipe, you could have a lot of excessive cleaning on your hands. The matter that created the clog is going to contaminate any surface that it sprayed when it burst. You’ll be spending a lot of time with bleach and water to get everything clean again. If the ruptured pipe is underground, it’s going to be a costly repair that requires excavation.

The Consequences of Improperly Maintained Grease Traps

What happens if you ignore a grease trap that’s not working properly? Fines from the city can be substantial. There are three levels of violations: Class I, Class II, or Class III. You’ll first get a warning notice. Don’t ignore warning notices. Fines are based on the violation, but you could also have to pay clean-up costs (including workers’ wages), recovery/repair costs, and daily penalties that apply to how long a sewer backup poses a public health and safety issue.

NW Biofuel is a preferred pumper and provides a FOG report with every cleaning. That’s important when it comes to local laws. Book a grease trap cleaning for just $95, plus we offer substantial discounts when you also recycle your used cooking oil or provide us with a key to clean your grease trap outside of your business hours and get a $25 credit. Stay in compliance with Oregon laws and pay less doing so.