As a new restaurant owner, you don't want to make the mistake of overlooking your grease traps. These are designed to catch fats, oils and grease (FOG) before they can clog up your drains or the municipal sewer lines. The following tips can help you be proactive about the grease trap maintenance both before and after you open for business.

Tip #1: Check your trap needs

Even if you are opening in a location that previously housed a restaurant, you need to make sure the current trap system is up to your needs. Not all restaurants have the same grease trap requirements. For example, if the previous business was a sandwich shop that primarily dealt in cold, non-greasy food, they may only have had a trap installed on the dish sink. If you're opening a burger joint, you'll need traps on the food prep and mop sink, as well. A trap cleaning and installation company can help you assess your trap needs and whether your location needs any upgrades.

Tip #2: Institute a slam system

The less food debris going into the trap system, the less pressure and cleaning needed. While some FOG down the drains is unavoidable, you can minimize it. Make sure your dish station has a slam station. This consists of a trash can placed beneath a rubber-guarded tube, which allows dishwashers or wait staff to "slam" a plate onto it to dislodge all remaining food. This will minimize the amount of food grease going into sinks. Everyone should be trained to slam or scrape plates and pots before placing them in water.

Tip #3: Schedule regular cleanings

How often you have the traps professionally pumped out and cleaned depends on how quickly they fill and local codes. For example, if you have a low-FOG restaurant where it can take months for a trap to fill, but health code requires monthly cleaning, then you will need to schedule monthly cleaning. On the other hand, if you have a high-FOG business, then you may need to clean more often than monthly, such as weekly. Your trap service company can help you determine the best cleaning schedule.

Tip #4: Avoid hot water

This final tip will save you from many plumbing problems. Do not drain hot water directly through a grease trap. Hot water temporarily melts FOG, allowing it to pass into the sewer line where it later congeals and clogs. Dishwashers and other boiling water lines should be routed through a line that doesn't connect to a grease trap. In a well-designed system, there should be very little FOG left on dishes by the time they are placed in the hot water cycle of the dishwasher. Talk to a grease removal service like Tierra Environmental & Industrial Services to learn more.