Grease Trap Services Philadelphia



FAQ: Grease Trap Services in Philadelphia

These are a few of the most commonly asked questions we get about our grease trap pumping and interceptor cleaning services in Philadelphia, PA.

1. What is a grease trap?

Simply put, a grease trap is a very important system for your food establishment business that can either be located underneath your kitchen sink or underground. This system is designed to trap all the dangerous FOG waste (fat, oil, grease) before it can reach the city sewer system. Grease traps and grease interceptors are required for all commercial kitchens in Philadelphia because they are necessary for preventing overflows and blockages. For small kitchens that don’t use a lot of grease, small capacity grease traps can be installed. However, for larger restaurants, grease interceptors are necessary. Grease interceptors have a larger capacity and they are located in interconnecting chambers underground near your kitchen. The local city code determines which of the two types of grease traps your restaurant’s needs, and local officials regularly conduct inspections to ensure strict compliance with their standards.

2. How do grease traps work?

Grease traps are simple mechanisms that trap grease waste before they can reach the sewer system. The principle behind how these systems works, has to do with the weight of FOG – because each contaminant settles at a different level, the water and fat naturally separate so that water can continue onto the city sewer system while the FOG is trapped. This system prevents messy disasters from happening in the sewer system, such as clogs or overflows.  Grease traps and grease interceptors are required before any restaurant can begin operation in the city. No matter what kind of restaurant you intend to operate, grease traps are a necessary and valuable part of your kitchen.

Grease traps have small capacities and are only allowed in small scale restaurants. Grease interceptors, on the other hand, can handle thousands of gallons of oil, making them ideal for larger commercial kitchens. The installation and maintenance of grease traps is a job that should never be overlooked. Failure to comply with the set out guidelines can result in hefty fines for your business, or emergencies that could require shutting down your business to clean up. 

3. Why do I need a grease trap?

There are two reasons why grease traps are essential and why every restaurant owner must install this system. First of all, grease traps are required by the local law if you are to operate legally in the city. There is no chance for any restaurant or food establishment to legally continue doing business without a grease trap. The second reason why you need one of these systems is that it offers a lot of safety for you and your business. Grease traps when well-maintained reduce the risk of fires in your kitchen. Also, they keep you and your employees safe from pathogens that can accumulate in oil that can cause sickness. Philadelphia Grease Trap Pumping is always available to take care of the cleaning and maintenance of your grease traps.

4. Why can’t I throw grease directly into the grease trap?

Throwing grease directly into the grease trap is never a good idea because grease traps were not designed to handle such large amounts of FOG at once. Filing up the grease trap with fat can hinder it from functioning correctly and separating the FOG from wastewater. Some oil will likely bypass the system and end up in the sewer system because of the overload. If this happens, the sewer system may be compromised, and your business may be in trouble with the authorities. As a general rule, never throw grease directly into the grease trap.

5. Can the restaurant owner do grease trap maintenance?

No one can stop you from giving grease trap cleaning a shot, but there are some essential things you should know first. One of the first things to remember is although you may initially save a few bucks by doing the cleaning yourself, chances are you will eventually need professional help. When this happens, the damage may already be done, and you may need emergency grease trap pumping, which is more expensive.

Another thing to remember before trying a DIY approach is that the local authorities only allow licensed, professional companies to do grease trap pumping and cleaning. This is because they have the equipment and skill to do the job in an eco-friendly manner- something you probably don’t have. Even if you are a seasoned DIY master, high tech pumping systems are required to clean a grease trap properly. This equipment is challenging to find and not something you can invest in.

Although you should not do grease trap cleaning by yourself, there are several things that you can do to ensure your grease trap continues functioning at its best.

  • Be diligent in following the grease trap maintenance schedule for your business and only work with a licensed, certified company
  • Remove all food debris from plates to reduce the amount of waste that reaches the grease trap
  • Make it a point to inspect your grease trap and replace worn-out parts immediately regularly
  • Try and use covers to trap food debris in your sink

6. Can I leave grease trap cleaning to one of my employees?

No, you should not do this. If the reason for hiring one of your employees to clean your trap is to save money, chances are you will end up spending more than you expect. Our company often gets calls for emergency grease trap pumping from owners who tried to save some cash by letting non-professional personnel do the job. The best solution is to always hire Philadelphia Grease Trap Services for all your maintenance needs.

Philadelphia Grease Trap Services are proud members of the Preferred Pumper Program or PPP. This organization is responsible for setting standards and improving methods of grease trap cleaning. As members of this organization, our team is always up-to-date with the modern techniques for grease removal, which are still in compliance with local city code. When you work with a certified company like ours, you are safe from any fines or penalties from the authorities.

As PPP members, we also must offer affordable rates for grease trap pumping, cleaning, and other related services.

7. Does Philadelphia grease trap services sell grease traps?

No, our company is not in the business of selling grease trap or grease interceptor units. You will need to contact a company that is certified to install a grease trap. With your grease trap installed, you can then contact Philadelphia Grease Trap Services for all your pumping and cleaning needs. When it comes to selecting the size and type of grease trap to install, remember to consult the local authorities first. Our team will be happy to help you make the right decision in this regard.

8. Can I have the oil in my grease trap recycled?

Yes, you can. This used oil is often called ‘Brown grease’ and can be used as fertilizer or biofuel. Local regulations limit the usage of brown fat, and this oil cannot be used for applications such as animal food, nor should it be processed in an area where animal food is produced.

For restaurants who want to recycle their brown grease, we suggest that you partner with a company that specializes in collecting this grease and delivering it to the recycling area. Remember though, that these companies are not PPP members and do not have ample experience in doing actual grease trap pumping.

To help you determine whether the grease from your trap can be recycled, our team can test the sludge collected. After examination, we will inform you whether or not you can reuse the grease. If not, our team will dispose of it in an eco-friendly manner.

9. What is the ideal size of the grease trap for my business?

The size of the grease trap ideal for your business will depend on the ordinances of the local city code. The City of Philadelphia is strict in determining the type of grease trap that will fit your business. These guidelines help business owners quickly determine where their restaurant fits in, making the process much more comfortable.

There are a few factors that help determine what type of grease trap or interceptor your business needs. First of all, the amount of grease produced by your business is taken into consideration. Small cafeterias that don’t use high volumes of fat are permitted to install small grease traps for their commercial kitchens. However, larger restaurants that use a lot of oil need to install grease interceptors to be safe.

The good news is that you don’t have to do too many calculations before deciding which of the two systems fits your business. Local authorities will help you in this regard.

10. How is grease trap cleaning done?

When experts like Philadelphia Grease Trap Services perform grease trap cleaning and pumping, the job is straightforward and simple. Because we have all the necessary equipment and training required, grease trap cleaning can be completed in a matter of hours. Teaming up with a company like ours also puts your mind at ease because we always follow the local regulations of grease disposal, so you are never at risk of penalties.

Although grease trap cleaning is not a job for restaurant owners and their employees, it is good for them to know how it is done and how to maintain them properly. There are two main procedures followed in grease trap cleaning.

The first is called the ‘pump and return’ method. This is the method our company and other professional companies use. The ‘pump and return’ methods start with the removal of all the grease in the chambers by using high-tech pump trucks. Then, the water is separated from the FOG and returned to the grease trap. The used oil is then disposed of in an eco-friendly manner.

The second method is called the ‘dry pump’ method. This method is standard for companies who lack the right equipment, or for restaurant owners to try to do the cleaning themselves. The dry and clean method begins by removing all the grease from the grease trap. With the fat removed, the trap is left open for a few days and allowed to dry. This drying period is when most restaurant owners complain of a foul odor.

11. What causes the foul smell in my grease trap?

Many restaurant owners who use the dry pump method complain about the foul smell from their grease trap after cleaning. This is to be expected because the trap is left open to dry, allowing gasses to spread through your premises. If this is the method you used when cleaning your grease trap, it is the probable cause for the foul odor. The easy solution is to hire a professional company that uses the pump and return method next time.

Another possibility for the foul odor is a worn out gasket. A worn-out gasket can allow the gases trapped inside the grease trap to spill into the kitchen. All you have to do in this case is to replace the gasket and see if the smell disappears.

Pipeline back-ups can also cause a foul odor, and if this is the case, you have a more severe issue at hand. Back-ups can affect the sewer system and result in overflows where wastewater sips into basements and nearby establishments. Calling your local plumber as soon as possible is the first thing you should do.

12. What if my grease trap overflows?

This can be disastrous for you and your business. City officials are stringent when it comes to overflows, so if your business is the cause for issues with the city sewer, you can expect hefty fines, and penalties. These fines will depend on the severity of the overflow, the damage caused, and whether it is the first time this has happened to you. Samples are also taken to determine the concentration of FOG, and higher concentration means higher fines.

For more information about the fines for grease trap overflows, contact your grease trap service provider.

13. Can your company help me with overflows?

Yes, Philadelphia Grease Trap Services has emergency grease trap pumping in cases of overflows. Call us at 215-391-1928, and we will be happy to address your problem as soon as possible. On top of taking care of the critical issue, our team will also offer valuable advice to help you prevent problems in the future. If we notice a clog in your pipelines, we will coordinate with your local plumber to come up with a solution.

14. Does your company repair grease traps?

No. Philadelphia Grease Trap Services is in the business of maintaining grease traps, so they continue to function correctly. Our services ensure that problems are identified and addressed as soon as possible. We offer:

  • Scheduled maintenance pumping and cleaning of grease traps to ensure high performance
  • Close monitoring of grease traps
  • Regular inspection of all grease trap components so that worn-out or damaged pieces are replaced as soon as possible

15. What type of maintenance do grease traps require?

Grease traps and interceptors require regular, consistent, and thorough maintenance. The regularity of this maintenance depends on the type of grease trap you have and how fast it fills. After installation, you may need to monitor your grease trap to determine how quickly it reaches the allowable limit. The City of Philadelphia also has standards regarding when grease trap pumping should be performed, and that is once levels reach 25%, to avoid all possibility of an overflow. When you choose Philadelphia Grease Trap Services, you are guaranteed that everything we do is in line with local standards.

16. What is the difference between HGI and GGI units?

GGI units are commonly known as Gravity Grease Interceptors. These interceptors have a high capacity and can store up to 4000 gallons of grease. GGI units are located underground and are composed of interconnecting chambers.

HGI units or Hydromechanical Grease Interceptors are also called grease traps in short. These grease traps are smaller in capacity and can only hold 50 to 200 gallons of grease. These traps are installed underneath your kitchen sink.

The installation of the two units also vary. GGI units are difficult to install and costly, while HGI units are fast and affordable.

17. What is a good schedule for grease trap pumping?

It is challenging to come up with a fixed answer to this question because all restaurants are different. For example, restaurants that use high volumes of grease require more frequent pumping that those that don’t. Also, the size of the interceptor or grease trap installed will influence how fast it fills up and, and ultimately, how often it needs pumping.

Small grease traps often require monthly pumping, while large interceptors can be pumped three times a year. To determine the best schedule for grease trap pumping, the local authorities’ will inspect your business and provide you with an ideal plan. Once you get in touch with us, we will incorporate this schedule in our routine, so you don’t even have to call us for maintenance. Our crew will be there just when you need us.

18. How much do PPP companies charge for grease trap pumping?

As PPP members, we are required to provide the best services at a reasonable price. When you partner with a certified PPP member, you are putting your business in safe hands. Philadelphia Grease Trap Services is not hasty in charging your business and always takes into consideration your unique needs.

Usually, HGI units are charged at a fixed price, while GGI units are priced according to the amount of grease pumped per gallon.

For any questions that are not included in this FAQ, contact us at 215-391-1928, and our team will answer all the concerns you have about grease trap pumping services.



Affordable & Reputable Grease Trap Services

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