Let's talk grease traps. This is one of those gray areas where what you don't know, can and will hurt you! You are ultimately responsible for the quality of cleaning your trap receives, and negligence on the part of your service provider will be a cost your business will incur! Not only will fees and penalties be applied, your restaurant can be forced to close temporarily until your issue is resolved or until penalties are paid. Not to mention, how many customers are you losing that you don't even know about? When the smell hits, do you think they want to stay and have lunch?
Partial pumping or water being discharged back into your tank is not legally permitted. Although, this may be a common occurrence with certain service providers that have questionable ethics and desperately want your business. If the bid is surprisingly low, this may be a sign that the provider is cutting corners and trying to reduce their costs by not cleaning your tank properly or illegally dumping waste.
Partial pumping only temporarily removes the top layer of material, and doesn't remove any bottom sludge. This sludge is the contributor to odors, solids build up, line blockage, and elevated FOG's being discharged to the sewer.
It is within your right to ensure that your tank is being completely cleaned to the standards you are expected to uphold. These are steps you can take to make sure your facility is being serviced properly.
- Know the correct size and rating of your tank(s). This can be found on your blue print or by having a reputable company measure the tank. Once the correct size is known, a restaurant can ensure that the volume removed by the vendor is a full cleaning and not a skimming. Often simply gauging the truck size can tell you if their is no way the provider is thoroughly emptying the tank.
- Request one competed manifest signed off from the disposal site confirming the gallons disposed matches the gallons removed. This can also be filed in your records. The city officials can request proof dating back three years. A vendor can easily write a manifest that doesn't match the manifest of the disposal site. You want the disposal site manifest copy!
- Ask for before and after pictures of the tank with a time/date stamp, or physically be present to see the empty tank when the cleaning is complete. Viewing photos is a common practice among exhaust hood cleaning providers. Make it a part of your grease trap cleaning protocol. It is within your right. And if your service provider makes you feel that you are asking too much, you probably are-so find another provider because this is clearly a red flag!
Grease traps are an area that is an annoyance, but not understanding your legal responsibilities and jumping at the lowest bid can be an expensive error in judgement. Once you establish your standards of procedure, the annoyance becomes negligible. Simply stated, you'll be glad you did!