Like kitchen hoods, grease traps are essential to every commercial kitchen. They eliminate grease and other similar materials, ensure a safe working environment, and keep your appliances in working condition. In this guide, we'll introduce what grease traps are, how they work, and how to calculate the correct grease trap size for your kitchen.
Use the following links to skip to the grease trap sizing tip that most interests you:
A grease trap is a device that prevents greasy substances from entering plumbing systems, septic tanks, and wastewater treatment facilities. They are typically used with commercial sinks or dish machines, though they can also be attached to other appliances. Grease traps catch oil and other substances before they can reach your water supply, where they could cause damage and overwhelm the system. The foods on your menu, the ingredients you use, and the total amount of food you produce can impact how much grease your kitchen creates.
In general, there are three different types of grease traps:
Grease traps work by separating grease from water. Animal fats and vegetable oils are typically 10-15% less dense than water, preventing them from mixing and causing the grease to rise and float above the water. Grease traps use this principle to eliminate grease from your water supply in three steps:
Flow rate reduction: As wastewater enters the grease trap, its flow rate is reduced. The water cools and settles in the trap, giving the wastewater time to separate into distinct layers of grease and water.
Trapping: Once the wastewater is separated, the trap uses a system of baffles to trap the grease layer. It's important to note that most grease traps feature strainers that trap solids as water passes through. Any solids that make it through will settle into their own layer at the bottom of the trap and can be removed during maintenance.
Separation: With the grease trapped, the clean water is released through an outlet. Since grease and other debris will remain in the trap, it's essential to clean your grease trap regularly to ensure the best performance.
Two major factors determine what grease trap size you'll need: the rate of incoming flow and local plumbing codes. Keep both factors in mind as you design your kitchen space to facilitate a safe and successful working environment for your staff. Continue reading to learn about both factors and how they relate to your kitchen:
The following calculator will help you determine the flow rate of your sink so that you can choose the grease trap that matches your kitchen's needs.
If you are draining multiple sinks into one grease trap, use this formula to determine the recommended flow rate in GPM:
You should clean and maintain your grease trap every 1-3 months. The length of time you go between cleaning your trap can vary depending on how much grease your kitchen produces, and many professionals adhere to the 1/4th rule to set a cleaning schedule.
The 1/4th rule stipulates that you should clean your grease trap when it reaches a quarter of its capacity. Doing so allows you to prevent foul odors in the kitchen, reduce the risk of clogged pipes, and extend the life of your sink. It’s important to note that some states require grease traps to be cleaned and maintained every 90 days regardless of how full they are.
Follow these tips to keep your grease trap maintained:
The Plumbing and Drainage Institute recommends using the following grease trap sizes for your dish machine:
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