Time is always of the essence in a busy kitchen, and it’s commonplace for some tasks to get deprioritized, especially in favor of other tasks that are more customer-facing. Oil management is one such task that seems to always end up at the bottom of the priority list. It often gets done in a rush, and as a result, mistakes happen. It’s understandable: to save a few precious minutes, even well-trained and conscientious employees might cut corners rather than go through the labor intensive process of disposing of oil properly. In a worst case scenario, that could mean grease getting dumped down the drain, which, as a restaurant owner, you know can lead to expensive consequences — so here’s what you need to know and what to do if grease goes down your restaurant’s drain.
What Happens to Grease That Goes Down the Drain?
Cooking oil goes down the drain easily, but seldom works its way through the pipes so seamlessly. That’s because fat thickens or congeals as it cools, slows down, and eventually comes to a stop. This is how clogs form in your pipes, and the flow of water gets blocked. Even if the oil completely clears your restaurant’s drain system, disposing of grease this way can still lead to significant consequences for your restaurant. That’s because your grease likely won’t get far and can still create big problems in your sewer system. This can lead to local backups and overflows, and if sewage backs up or flows over in the wrong place, it can result in environmental and public health hazards. Many municipalities now punish restaurants with steep fines for improper disposal of grease.
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What if I Accidentally Pour Grease Down My Restaurant Drain?
Without a working drain, your kitchen will eventually be forced to shut down. That’s why, if you or an employee accidentally pours fat or oil down your restaurant drain, it’s important to get an accurate picture of the situation. How much grease was it? If it was significant and you’re not handy with plumbing, the safest advice is to call a trusted plumber to rectify the problem. If you try to fix it yourself, you could end up making the damage worse — necessitating a costlier fix that forces your kitchen into a longer shutdown. If you are confident dealing with small problems in your plumbing, there are some possible fixes you can try.
For a small amount of grease accidentally poured down the drain, these steps can sometimes help:
- Pour a pot of boiling water down the drain as soon as possible.
- Pour half a cup of baking soda, followed by half a cup of white vinegar. Cover the drain tightly for about fifteen or twenty minutes to allow the natural ingredients to work. (Note: DON’T do this if there’s standing water or you are using a drain opener).
- Uncover drain and pour in another pot of boiling water.
Can You Get Rid of Grease Clogs With a Drain Snake?
If you call a professional to unclog your drain, they will most likely use a hydro jet machine, which is like a pressure washer for the inside of your pipes. This procedure works well but is pricey. As a less expensive alternative, your plumber might offer to fix your grease-clogged pipes with a drain opener (aka drain snake). Snaking your drain won’t leave your drains as squeaky clean as hydro jetting but it will fix the clog for the near term. Snakes are also available for rent or purchase — but we only recommend doing it yourself if you’re sure you know how to operate one. If your pipes are old or in poor condition, it’s better to call a plumber to fix the problem than try to snake the drain yourself.
Avoid Chemical Drain Clearing Products
Solving your clog in a pinch using a chemical drain cleaner might seem like a good idea, but think twice about using them regularly. Their track record is spotty. They only really work for clogs that are small and concentrated in one area. If you have a large clog, chemical drain cleaners are a waste of money — and worse. These cleaners are designed to corrode. If they remain in your drain system, they can wear down pipes to the point of leaking. Old or damaged pipes are extremely vulnerable to damage from chemical drain cleaners. In the event of a sewer backup or overflow, chemical drain cleaners are especially bad for the environment too.
Don’t Let Grease Go Down Your Drain Again
The food service industry produces 3 billion pounds of grease per year which causes an estimated 47% of all sewer overflows. It’s an industry-wide problem and it’s started leading to crackdowns. You can now potentially face steep penalties for illegal grease disposal — which is why a Total Oil Management solution makes more sense than ever.
With Total Oil Management, you’ll never have to worry about grease going down your restaurant’s drains ever again. That’s because nobody in your restaurant — neither you nor your employees — will ever have to manually dispose of grease again. No more handling hot oil for you or your staff, either! We’ve automated the entire process.
How Does Total Oil Management Work?
Total Oil Management is our state of the art system for automated cooking oil management in your restaurant kitchen. It allows for seamless flow of oil between your deep fryer and two tanks — one to hold fresh oil and the other for used waste oil. Your employees can dispose of oil safely, automatically, and properly. Restaurant Technologies hauls away your used oil at the same time we deliver more fresh oil to you, and we even recycle your used oil into eco-friendly biodiesel fuel. Our closed-loop system turns a potential environmental hazard — used grease in the sewer system — and turns it into an environmentally friendly energy solution. We’ll install the Total Oil Management system in your kitchen with no capital expense.
Ready to say goodbye to grease-related drain problems once and for all? Fill out our form, and one of our local experts will get in touch as soon as possible.