What is a grease trap?

Grease traps, often referred to as grease interceptors, are indispensable components of drainage systems. They are designed to prevent the accumulation of fats, oils, and greases (FOGs) from entering the wastewater system. As a result, they play a crucial role in maintaining the smooth operation of drainage systems, preventing blockages, and safeguarding the environment.

A grease trap is a plumbing device installed within commercial kitchens, restaurants, and food service establishments to capture and separate FOGs from wastewater before it enters the sewage system. These traps are typically made of stainless steel, plastic, or cast iron and come in various sizes depending on the volume of wastewater generated by the establishment.

How does a grease trap work?

Grease traps employ a simple but effective mechanism to separate FOGs from wastewater. Here’s how they work:

  1. Capture: As wastewater containing FOGs flows into the grease trap, the fats, oils, and greases float to the top due to their lower density.
  2. Separation: The trapped FOGs form a layer on the surface, while relatively cleaner water continues to flow through the trap.
  3. Retention: The grease trap allows the wastewater to remain stagnant for a period, allowing further separation and trapping of FOGs.
  4. Disposal: Once separated, the collected grease is stored in a designated compartment within the trap. The cleaner water exits the grease trap and continues into the drainage system.

Why are grease traps important for drains?

  • Prevents blockages

    Grease, fats, and oils can solidify and build up inside drains, leading to clogs and blockages. Grease traps intercept and contain these substances, preventing them from entering the drainage system and causing disruptions.

  • Protects the environment

    When FOGs enter the sewage system, they can congeal and form large blockages, leading to sewage overflows into water bodies, which is harmful to aquatic life and the environment. Grease traps help mitigate this risk and minimize pollution.

  • Complies with regulations

    In the UK, certain establishments are legally required to have grease traps installed to comply with water utility and environmental regulations. Failure to do so can result in fines and penalties.

Who has to have a grease trap installed?

In the UK, establishments that generate a significant amount of FOGs in their wastewater must have grease traps. Such establishments typically include restaurants, hotels, pubs, catering facilities, fast-food outlets, and other food service businesses. The specific requirements may vary based on the local water utility and environmental regulations.

How to look after a grease trap

Proper maintenance of grease traps is essential to ensure their effectiveness and longevity. Here are some crucial tips for looking after grease traps:

  • Regular cleaning

    Grease traps must be cleaned regularly to prevent overflow and maintain their efficiency. The frequency of cleaning depends on the volume of wastewater and the size of the trap.

  • Professional servicing

    Hire a licensed waste disposal company to empty and clean the grease trap. They will dispose of the collected FOGs responsibly and help maintain the trap in optimal condition.

  • Avoid certain substances

    Avoid pouring cooking oil, grease, and food scraps down the drain, as these can lead to clogs and reduce the effectiveness of the grease trap.

How to tell if you have a grease trap

If you run a food service establishment in the UK, there is a high likelihood that you have a grease trap installed. Grease traps are typically located near the kitchen, either indoors or underground, and have access points for regular cleaning. If you are unsure whether your establishment has a grease trap, you can check with the building’s maintenance or facility management team.

Grease traps are vital components in the effort to maintain efficient drainage systems and protect the environment. By preventing FOGs from entering the sewage system, they play a crucial role in reducing blockages, protecting water bodies, and ensuring compliance with environmental regulations. Regular maintenance and proper care of grease traps are essential to their functionality, helping food service establishments to operate responsibly and sustainably. For a helping hand, contact the team at Elliott Environmental Drainage on 0203 633 1266 (London) | 01303 814 478 (Kent).

0203 633 1266
01303 814478