When swept away down the drain along with the water, grease can cause some serious problems. The use of a grease trap is important for facilities like restaurants that produce a lot of grease – along with other fats and oils – so blockages don’t occur somewhere down the line.
But have you ever stopped to wonder “how does a grease trap work”? How does it manage to successfully separate the grease from the water so the grease can be captured while allowing the water to go on its way? A clever bit of engineering is used to create these devices, and we’ll look closer at the topic in the article below.
If your facility uses a grease trap that isn’t performing up to expectations, or if you need to have a grease trap installed, reach out to Walker Air • Plumbing • Electric right away to talk about our commercial plumbing services. We will be happy to help!
The Inherent Challenge
When trying to design a grease trap, engineers have an obvious challenge in front of them – how to capture as much of the grease as possible while letting water flow off into the sewer? While these two don’t mix, they can be tricky to separate while they are flowing out through a pipe. The challenge is only increased by the fact that this blend of water and grease is typically quite warm when it leaves the restaurant. That high temperature allows it to remain far more integrated than it would be at a cooler temperature.
So, the first goal of a grease trap is to bring down the temperature of the waste that is flowing out of the building. At a lower temperature, the water will naturally separate from the fats, and it will become dramatically easier to capture those fats and hold onto them while letting the water go. Time will do the job of cooling this mixture down, so a grease trap works in part simply by slowing down the water and letting it lose some of its heat.
How Does a Grease Trap Work?
As the temperature comes down, the grease in the water is going to start to float to the top because it is less dense than the pure water. Now, there is an opportunity to easily collect the grease and dispose of the water because the water will be on the bottom and the grease will be on top. Placing a pipe near the bottom of the trap that allows water to keep moving but prevents grease from getting through is at the core of how a grease trap works its magic.
At this point, we have established that a grease trap works by allowing water to cool and then collecting the grease and fats that float to the top of that water while in the trap. That’s great, but what happens to all of that material that is collected as the weeks and months go by? Simply put, it needs to be cleaned out and disposed of before problems arise. Restaurants are required to have a properly working grease trap in place, so there could be legal trouble that arises if you fail to do the needed maintenance.
We can’t tell you exactly how often you will need to clean out the grease trap, because that is going to depend on the size of the trap, the volume of material that goes down the drains, and more. Generally speaking, restaurants will need to clean out the grease trap at least every three months – and perhaps as frequently as every month for a busier location. By paying attention to this key maintenance point, you should be able to determine a good interval for your needs.
The Right Equipment
One other important point regarding grease traps is purchasing and installing a trap that is suitable for your needs. There are many different sizes of traps on the market and you certainly don’t want to end up with one that is too small for your business and has to be cleaned out frequently to keep up with the workload. Get professional help picking out a new grease trap so you can be sure it will be the right size for your situation.
Don’t let grease trap problems be a headache for your business any longer. Simply give us a call at Walker Air • Plumbing • Electric today and we will discuss this issue with you and determine the best course of action to solve the commercial plumbing problems you might be facing. We appreciate your time and hope to serve you soon!