Grease Trap: What Is It and How Does It Work?

May 4, 2023 Published by Leave your thoughts

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Have you ever thought about which substances are poured down drainpipes into the sewer system? Imagine all the different types of waste and debris that end up in the drain system, such as chemicals, oils, food waste, and grease. In commercial kitchens and industries dealing with large amounts of grease disposal, there are specialized devices designed to trap grease and prevent clogs in drain pipes – these devices are called grease traps.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the importance and functioning of grease traps.

What is a Grease Trap?

A grease trap is also known as a grease interceptor or grease recovery device. It is a plumbing device that is typically installed in the drain lines of commercial kitchens, restaurants, and other food establishments. Grease traps use gravity to capture and separate heavy grease and oil from the wastewater.

The grease trap is designed to collect the wastewater from kitchen sinks, dishwashers, and other cooking equipment and then remove the grease, food particles, and other debris from the water before it enters the sewer system. Grease traps are crucial in preventing the accumulation of grease and subsequent blockages in the sewer system.

How Does a Grease Trap Work?

A typical grease trap is a tank-like device made of stainless steel or plastic, that is installed underground or above ground, and is located between the plumbing fixtures and sewer line. The location of the grease trap depends on the configuration of the specific building, but it’s usually installed in an outdoor area that is easily accessible to workers.

The operation of a grease trap is relatively simple. Wastewater from sinks and other kitchen equipment enters the grease trap, which naturally slows down as it enters the tank. The water then cools slightly, allowing the fats, oils, and grease (or FOG as it is commonly called), to separate from the water through a process called encapsulation.

Encapsulation occurs when the FOG cools and solidifies into small particles, which then float to the surface of the trap, creating a floating layer. The remaining wastewater, which is now free of FOG and food particles, then proceeds through an exit pipe at the bottom of the tank, flowing directly into the sewer system.

In the next stage, the FOG remains in the trap until it’s manually removed through a series of access lids on the tank, which workers can open to clean out the solidified layer of grease.

Why is a Grease Trap Important?

The accumulation of FOG in sewer systems can cause blockages and backups, leading to overflows, pipe damage, and equipment failure. FOG can also cause sewage systems to emit unpleasant odors, which can lead to an unhealthy working environment.

Grease traps are crucial tools for businesses that deal with a lot of fats, oil, and grease wastewater in their operations. Most cities have stringent requirements for grease traps, meaning that businesses must install and maintain a grease trap that meets the city’s specific codes. Regular cleaning and maintenance of grease traps are essential to ensure that the device continues to function effectively, as well as following the guidelines enforced by the city.

Regular maintenance of grease traps can reduce the discharge of pollutants into the environment, which can ultimately help preserve the lifespan of the sewer system, save money on repairs, and contribute to a safer and healthier environment for everyone.


A grease trap is a critical component of any commercial kitchen. The grease trap’s primary function is to collect wastewater, trap the FOG, and isolate it from the rest of the sewage system. This separation helps prevent blockages, backups, and harmful emissions into the environment.

Grease traps come in different sizes and configurations, based on the business’s specific needs, but they all work the same way by using gravitational flow to separate the grease from wastewater. Regular cleaning and maintenance are essential to maintain the grease trap’s effectiveness and ensure that your business is in compliance with local regulations.

If you’re unsure whether your business needs a grease trap or if you need further information regarding the upkeep of your grease trap, contact a local grease trap maintenance specialist. Stay safe, and keep your kitchen running smoothly!

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