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How Often to Clean a Grease Trap


The question of how frequently restaurants should clean out their grease traps is one that we get often. Many times, busy restaurants won’t even know that they are due for a pump-out or cleaning until it’s too late. Since a restaurant’s pump-out and cleaning schedule depends on many factors, including trap size, seating capacity, business, and cooking techniques, it can be difficult to keep track of the right time to schedule a cleaning. In order to avoid the costly (and legal) ramifications of not cleaning out your grease trap, follow the guidelines below to keep your customers and business healthy.

The 1/4th Rule and Your Cleaning Schedule

A good rule of thumb for any cleaning schedule is every one to three months. However, in order to determine if it should be one or three, you will need to follow the 1/4th rule. This rule states that once 1/4th of your grease trap has been filled with fats, oils, grease, and solids (FOGS) it is time for a pump out. Once your trap is 1/4th full, it stops being effective and can lead to unpleasant odors, slow drainage in sinks, and clogs in your lines. If your restaurant has a small grease trap or is producing a lot of greases, you may reach the 1/4th rule faster than one to three months and may want to consider sizing up.

Grease Trap Laws and Regulations

In many cases, restaurants are legally required to clean out their grease traps every 90 days. So in addition to the 1/4th rule, your restaurant will also want to pay attention to any laws, regulations, or ordinances in place from your local government. These can vary by city, town, or county, so make sure your restaurant is up to code depending on where it is located. Not following these rules could result in fines or lost business.

Grease Trap Cleaning and Pumping Tips

In order to get the most out of your grease trap and your grease trap cleanout, be sure you are following the tips below:

  • Scrape plates and utensils of any excess food or debris before washing to limit the number of FOGS making their way to your trap
  • Dry-wipe pots and pans prior to dishwashing to reduce the amount of material collected in your grease trap
  • Recycle waste cooking oil so it doesn’t end up in your grease trap, causing the need for more frequent and unnecessary pump outs
  • Avoid the use of garbage disposals to limit the number of solids making their way to your grease trap
  • Clean grease trap interceptors that have a capacity of 100 gallons or less on a weekly basis in between pump outs
  • Clean your grease traps before or after business hours to ensure the unpleasant odor does not affect patrons

If you think you may be in need of a grease trap cleaning or pump out or have any more questions about the process, feel free to call at (603) 945-7355 or complete our service request form.

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