Grease is a problem because it can cause blockages in sewer collection lines resulting in overflows of wastewater from the collection system. These overflows can potentially result in damage to property and/or environmental contamination of local bodies of water. Grease can adversely impact our wastewater collection system, equipment, and grease may also encumber wastewater treatment plants abilities to adequately treat the wastewater it receives. Although many believe pouring warm liquid grease down a drain is not harmful, once the grease cools, it hardens and may result in the blockages and overflows as describe above.
What is a grease trap/grease interceptor?
The name grease trap or grease interceptor is often used interchangeably. These devices are utilized to allow for the separation of fats, oils and greases in wastewater discharges from food service establishments and/or other type grease and oil generating establishments. Such traps or interceptors may be the “outdoor” or in-ground type normally 1,000 gallons capacity or greater, or the “under-the-counter” package units normally referred to as the under-the-counter grease traps.
Do I need a grease trap?
Any Food Service Establishment (FSE) that introduces grease or oil discharges from kitchens, dish washing and any wastewater that is associated with food preparation should have a grease trap. This excludes residential occupancies that do not participate in the selling or preparation of food for commercial gain or business.
Is the grease trap I have adequate?
That depends on the discharge flow from the establishment and the amount of grease contained in the wastewater that discharges into the trap. The Universal Plumbing Code states that no grease trap should have a capacity less than 20 gallons per minute or more than 55 gallons per minute. Internal traps will need to be assessed based on the number of water generated fixtures it serves. The amount of grease in the wastewater can impact whether or not the establishment grease trap is able prevent grease from being discharged into the collection system. The FSE may need to implement practices in managing the handling of fats, oils and grease.
How do I know if I have a grease trap?
The first step is can you identify any under-the-counter containers where sinks and drains tie into? Check the plumbing drawing of the facility if available, to see if a grease trap is identified on the drawing. If you are still unsure you may wish to contact a plumber to assist you in tracing the discharge lines from the facility to see if they lead to a grease trap. Typically outside traps have manhole covers (some only 1 but typically 2). Outside grease traps are typically close to the kitchen section of the facility.
What if I don't have a grease trap?
If your FSE discharges fats, oils and greases and does not have a grease trap eventually maintenance problems will occur with clogged sewer lines in the facility or backup situations in the wastewater collection lines in your service area. If your establishment is found to be the cause of such problems within the sewer service area, your establishment may be charged for any cost recovery associated with the maintenance and repair for any issues associated with the grease discharges.
What is escalated enforcement?
Escalated enforcement is taken against an FSE that does not comply with the requirements found in City of Raleigh Public Utilities Department Handbook and/or does not comply with the requirements listed of the notice of noncompliance left by the Raleigh Water Inspector. Escalated enforcement can result in a civil penalty not exceeding $2000.00 a day per of noncompliance. A civil penalty may be issued for failure to comply and this failure shall be documented along with the assessed penalty with a deadline for payment unless otherwise documented.
What documentation must I maintain and for how long must it be maintained?
Escalated enforcement is taken against an FSE that does not comply with the requirements found in City of Raleigh Public Utilities Department Handbook and/or does not comply with the requirements listed of the notice of noncompliance left by the Raleigh Water Inspector. Escalated enforcement can result in a civil penalty not exceeding $2000.00 a day per of noncompliance. A civil penalty may be issued for failure to comply and this failure shall be documented along with the assessed penalty with a deadline for payment unless otherwise documented
Maintenance, Reporting & Record Keeping
(a) Maintenance records shall be maintained onsite where the grease interceptor or oil/water separator is located for a period of three years.
(b) Grease interceptor maintenance records must include the following information.
FSE name and physical location
Date and time of grease interceptor service
Name of grease interceptor service company
Name and signature of person doing said service
Established service frequency and type of service (Example Full pump out, partial pump out, on site treatment, etc.)
Number and size of each grease interceptor serviced
Approximated amount, per best professional judgment, of grease
and solids removed from each grease interceptor
Total volume of waste removed from each grease interceptor
Destination of removed wastes, food solids, and wastewater disposal
(c) Maintenance records that do not include all the above information will be considered incomplete. Incomplete records are considered a violation of the City of Raleigh Sanitary Sewer Use Ordinance and may subject the facility to penalty assessments and/or service termination.
(d) Facilities for which a specific pretreatment permit has been issued will follow the requirements for maintenance and record keeping as stated in the permit.
Where can I get a copy of these requirements in full for my area?
The purpose of a grease trap is in the name itself: it “traps” grease and food solids from getting into the municipal wastewater collection system and causing backups down the line. That is why, by law, restaurants must have a grease trap and have it cleaned on a set frequency.
Over time as the grease and food solids accumulate, the grease trap can back up into the restaurant, overflow into the parking lot, or simply create odors that can be bad for business.
When Is It Time For Grease Trap Cleaning?
Most restaurants pump out their traps anywhere from every 30 days to every 90 days. The rules in each municipality are different. Please see the link on our FAQ page to see the different requirements for different municipalities.
At the same time, if your grease trap backs up or has a strong odor between pumpings, increasing your pumping frequency may fix the problem.
What Sizes of Grease Traps (Grease Interceptors) Are Available?
The two main types of grease traps are indoor and outdoor. If it is indoor, it may be a black or silver box that is under the sink that sits on top of the kitchen floor. Sometimes the indoor traps are underneath the kitchen floor; so all you see is a rectangular piece of metal or plastic that can be pulled up. The sizes for indoor traps range from 10 to 200 gallons. Outdoor grease traps are typically under the parking surface or under the grass near the back of a kitchen. You can identify them by locating 2 or 3 manhole covers that are close together. These typically range in size from 500 to 3000 gallons.