Grease Traps Can Prevent Clogged Drains in Portland
Have you heard the term, “Grease Trap”? What do grease traps do and why are they useful?
These are good questions because plumbing systems in the United States could all use a system of capturing the oils and grease out of our wastewater. Grease traps filter out the grease, oil, and fats as it exits the kitchen sink areas. Many commercial facilities are required by law to install them so our sanitary sewer systems are safe from being contaminated with this material.
Grease, oil, and fats are commonly known as FOG in the plumbing world. The grease traps can capture and remove up to 90% of grease oil and fats from wastewater. While they're usually required for commercial entities, they are very useful in residential applications as well.
These systems have been around since the Victorian era. However, they were first patented in the late 1800's. Many commercial cooking facilities, school cafeterias, restaurants, caterers, fast food places, and more utilize grease traps or grease interceptors. They are only installed to filter kitchen wastewater and are not connected to bathroom wastewater systems.
States normally require that grease traps be installed and maintained by state-certified plumbers. They need to be cleaned and maintained by professionals in order to keep them functioning properly.
Oils float on the surface of water, so it forms a scum layer that needs to be removed. This is hard to remove, but the grease trap is designed for it. High viscosity fats like the cooking grease lard, will solidify when it cools down. This means it can easily cause clogged drains.
Once a drain clogs, a backup can occur, contaminating either the sanitary sewage system or fresh water systems. That's why it's so important to remove the FOG.
They are made out of metals like stainless steel, fiberglass, iron, concrete, or hard plastic. They can be small, point of use systems that fit under compartment sinks within the kitchen or large in-ground tanks that process 500-2000 gallons.
Wastewater flows through the system, trapping the oils and solids. Oil and grease float on the water surface and accumulate behind the baffles. It is trapped and then removed during cleaning.
Some grease traps have an outlet at the end of the trap where you can sample the quality of the grease trap discharge. Then, the water is discharged through pipes into the grease interceptor or the sanitary sewer system.
Grease traps may be many more times common for commercial applications in Portland and other areas, but they are also very useful for homeowners. They are extremely helpful for septic systems because they cut down on undigested materials.
Smaller grease interceptor units can handle about 4-8 gallons of wastewater per minute, while larger units process about 25 to 50 gallons per minute. They can be installed above ground, below ground, inside the building, or outside. The smaller units are located in the kitchen.
Grease blockages cause an estimated 1/2 of sanitary sewer overflows. Grease traps are very useful in preventing raw sewage spills and help our environment to be cleaner. They also offer a way for this waste matter to be recycled. They are an invaluable tool to help prevent clogged drains and are a method of trapping materials that would otherwise contaminate our environment.