Vancouver: (360) 768-0141 | Portland: (503) 606-8771 | Longview: (360) 326-0477

Commercial Drain Cleaning From Your Plumber: Grease Traps And Benefits Of Automatic Grease Recovery Units To Restaurant Owners | Portland, OR


The plumbing situation in the United States is not looking good! 75 percent of sewer systems in the United States are not functioning to their full capacity due to blockages and grease buildup. Consequently, billions of dollars are used every year to ensure sewage lines keep operating.

Likewise, every year the City of Portland spends millions in cleaning and fixing sewer lines congested by fats, oils, and grease (FOG) and treating wastewater with high concentrations of food waste and FOG substances. The grease sticks to pipe walls in the long run, leading to blockages while fats and oils destroy wastewater treatment equipment.

If FOG substances enter a natural watercourse, they’ll seriously impact the environment and affect restaurants due to blockages in internal pipes that lead to costly repairs and potential equipment downtime.

Luckily, restaurant owners can use grease management systems, especially the automatic grease recovery unit, to resolve sewer issues. Without a doubt, grease traps are a lifesaver when maintaining a plumbing system of a restaurant or a commercial eatery. In this blog, our licensed plumbers will shine the spotlight on what grease traps are, how they work, and the benefits of automatic grease recovery units.

What Is a Grease Trap?

Surprisingly grease traps have been around for over 100 years. Sometimes called grease converters, interceptors, or catchers, they’ve been used in various environments, including:

  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Bakeries
  • Cafes
  • Bars and pubs
  • Takeaways
  • Schools and colleges

For novices, a grease trap is a plumbing device where wastewater carrying FOG passes through before entering the drainage system. It is strategically situated between the eatery drain and sewer line, allowing FOG to be isolated, collected, and dumped correctly. Various FOGs trapped by this receptacle include:

  • Sauces
  • Vegetable oil
  • Butter and margarine
  • Olive oil
  • Fats from pay-frying meats,
  • Canola oil
  • Food scraps

There are three types of grease traps:

  • Hydromechanical
  • Gravity
  • Automatic grease removal unit (AGRU)

A grease trap is not the most attractive part of a hotel or commercial kitchen, and it’s usually hidden underground or beneath the sinks. Although it maintains a low profile, the grease converter is among the most plumbing parts and, when not properly maintained, can result in extensive headaches.

How Does a Grease Trap Work?

Since water doesn’t mix with grease and separates easily, all that’s needed for a proper functioning grease trap is time and space. That’s why there is sufficient “retention time” inside the grease trap to allow FOG to separate from the wastewater.

Since oil is lighter than water, it rises to the top, and once on the surface, it’s trapped by the baffle plate, hence can’t leave the tank. Then sediments and food waste solids settle at the bottom of the tank.

Although it sounds straightforward, don’t make the mistake of thinking that all you need for your commercial kitchen is the most basic passive grease trap. For instance, if the trapped grease stays in the tank for a while, it will begin to smell, and as it continues to accumulate on top, the sediments settle at the bottom. This reduces the “free” volume for trapping FOG substances, affecting the effectiveness of the grease trap.

Plumbers advise restaurant owners to empty the grease traps regularly to prevent the grease from passing through the trap. However, most hotel owners do not know when and how often the tank has to be emptied.

Plus, having a professional plumber empty the grease converter regularly is not a cheap affair. Not to worry, though; over time, automatic grease recovery units (AGRUs) have been introduced in the market, saving end-users the hassle and work involved in passive hydromechanical (manual) grease traps. Below are some of the benefits of AGRUs.

The Benefits of AGRUs

Although AGRUs use the same techniques as the standard passive trap, they can re-heat and remove FOG solids automatically as programmed. The FOG that’s been removed is moved into a collector bin for easy removal and recycling. As a restaurant owner, you are saved the trouble of checking or measuring grease levels because the programmed schedule depends on the amount of FOG produced.

AGRUs are available in various sizes to cater to a range of requirements. Due to their higher initial investment cost, they are not available in most small businesses. But they are more effective, and you spend less on the long-term operation and servicing costs. Continue reading to understand why a plumber should install an AGRU in your restaurant in Portland, OR.

Saves Thousands of Dollars

You can save lots of money in the long run by investing in AGRUs because they don’t need to be emptied regularly. This grease trap automatically removes food waste solids and FOG every day; thus, you don’t have to pay a plumber to pump the waste monthly.

Imagine running a busy restaurant that produces 5 to 10 pounds of FOG daily, and you are using the traditional under sink grease trap that can only accommodate 50 pounds.

This will end up being costly because you’ll need a plumber to empty it as recommended by the manufacturer frequently. But, with an AGRU, you’ll save more because it removes grease, oil, and fat daily.

Renewable Energy

What makes it worth investing in AGRU is that it skims quality grease compared to the one that comes out of traditional grease interceptors. The grease is usually partially dewatered and separated from solids, hence this grease may be recycled and used as a renewable energy source or for pharmaceutical products.

AGRU Can Fit Almost Anywhere

While traditional grease interceptors have big tanks to hold sludge and FOG for a long time, AGRUs are small and can fit under sinks and hold FOG for a few hours before skimming substances. Therefore, an AGRU is economical in matters of space because it can fit anywhere.

Reduces Carbon Footprints

An AGRU is eco-friendly compared to the traditional grease interceptor. If all eateries in Portland, OR, required a pump truck to come monthly to empty the trap, that would be a lot of traffic. AGRUs reduce traffic because they don’t need to be pumped out every month.

Contact Our Professional Plumbers in Portland, OR

If you require grease trap services, reach out to our professional plumbers at Pilot Plumbing & Drain for help. Our plumbers will address your questions or concerns and help with grease trap installation, cleaning, and pumping.

We’re happy to help you with other plumbing services, including drain cleaning, fixture installation, water heater replacement, and plumbing emergency services. Our plumbers are available 24/7, as well.

Share This Post
More To Explore
Water Heater Repair Signs

7 Common Signs You Need Water Heater Repair

Maintaining a reliable supply of hot water is essential for daily tasks like showering, dishwashing, cooking, and laundry in Portland, OR. Most homeowners only realize

Pipe Leak Causes
leak detection

Understanding Vancouver Pipe Leak Causes

Every homeowner dreads finding their residence flooded due to pipe leak causes, especially in Vancouver. This mess can cause significant water wastage and the resulting