Monthly grease trap maintenance is an unavoidable fact of maintaining a commercial facility, especially in the food service and management industry. It's a dirty job, and many facilities managers are tempted to deal with this often messy and smelly task through the use of enzymes and other additives. The following takes a look at how enzymes are used to remove fats, oils, and grease (FOG) and the potential drawbacks of using such additives in your grease trap.
How Enzymes Interact with FOG
The idea behind using enzymes and other additives to clean out grease traps is a relatively simple one—reduce the amount of pumping and cleaning needed by breaking down the various amounts of FOG trapped within the system. Most treatments work in the following manner:
In many cases, enzyme and bacterial treatments are also used to help minimize the bad odors that are often associated with sewer traps.
The Problem with Enzymes and Other Additives
The main problem with enzyme treatments is that, even when they're used properly, they may not be able to completely eliminate FOG. Enzyme treatments often help push liquefied FOG out of the grease trap and further into the municipal sewer line. Once it's in the sewer line, the FOG may re-coagulate and stick to the pipe walls, creating blockages that can clog up the sewer line and prevent other waste from flowing through.
Another problem faced when using enzyme treatments and other additives is that they can easily upset the balance of bacteria that is already present within the grease trap system. Such an imbalance can prevent existing bacteria from effectively metabolizing FOG within the grease trap, preventing the waste from being broken down enough to pass through the system harmlessly.
For these reasons, many states and municipalities are generally strict in their regulatory requirements for enzyme treatments and bacterial additives. In many cases, it's illegal to discharge waste containing FOG into municipal sewer systems due to the amount of damage that a potential blockage could cause downstream. The fines for allowing FOG to enter a municipal sewer system can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars for each violation. In New York City, for example, businesses can be fined as much as $10,000 per violation.
Proper Pumping and Cleaning is Always Best
If you want to deal with FOG in your grease trap system, then there's no way around cleaning it out manually. It's usually the best and most effective way of preventing FOG from traveling further into your municipal sewer system.
There are a couple of ways you can deal with grease trap maintenance. One way is to have your employees manually clean out the grease trap on a monthly basis. It's hard work, and it might not endear you to your workers, but it can help prevent FOG buildup and blockages from occurring.
The other way is to leave the cleaning in the hands of trained professionals. There are plenty of companies that specialize in pumping out and cleaning grease trap systems. These companies use a variety of special tools, including specially designed trucks and sewer jets, to clean out grease traps, remove blockages from nearby sewer lines and collect the FOG for later disposal or processing as compost or biofuel. Contact a company that specializes in grease trap cleaning for more information.
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