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Monthly Archives: November 2018

  • Should You Connect a Commercial Dishwasher to a Grease Trap?

      1. Grease Management at Christmas
      2. Grease Traps and Dishwashers
        1. What's the problem?
        2. Placement is key
        3. What size do I need?
      3. We recommend

    At the onset of one of the busiest times of year, professional kitchens are under immense pressure in every sense. Tackling extra stock in the kitchen combined with extra tables to be served, all whilst fulfilling the high expectations of guests are just some of the challenges without even starting on the quantity of extra dishes and cookware that need washing.

    Menus will be packed with traditional fare including pigs in blankets, a good selection of meats, roast potatoes and roasted vegetables; Christmas wouldn’t be the same without them. Unfortunately, the side effects of these festive favourites is an increased production of fats, oils and grease (or FOG).

    Grease Management at Christmas

    Kitchens should be employing good standards of grease management throughout the year. This includes scraping foods into the bin, dry wiping plates and cookware and swilling in sinks, underneath which appropriate grease traps are fitted according to guidelines. But what about other FOG residue that could potentially worm its way into the sewer system from unexpected sources that haven’t been accounted for?

    Bearing in mind the increased quantities of FOG during this time of year, Christmas is theChecklist perfect opportunity to revisit grease management solutions and make sure all bases are covered.

    If operating a commercial pot wash section and warewash as intended there should be little need to install a specific trap solely for this equipment. The correct procedure involves the scraping of food waste into the bin, dry wiping of plates and cookware to remove excess fats, oils and grease before spraying in the pre-wash sink. Any residual FOG left after scraping and wiping will go down the sink to be collected by the grease trap there. Tableware should effectively be ‘clean’ and free of FOG or other contaminants before going into the dishwasher; the dishwasher only used to sanitise crockery, cookware and cutlery.

    Having said that, every area of the kitchen should be viewed as potentially susceptible to FOG production from combination ovens to ware washers. Staff in pot wash areas, even those with the strictest measures in place, could be tempted to cut corners during a busy Christmas service where high turnover demands a continuous influx of clean crockery. Any lapse in concentration could see FOG that would otherwise be taken care of and disposed of correctly, entering the dishwasher and therefore the sewer. Not only could this have a negative impact on the operation of the dishwasher but it also spells bad news for the drainage system, especially when there is no defence in place against this direction of attack.

    Although grease traps are typically associated with under sink positioning or in external locations (as is the case for high capacity businesses), can they also be used in other situations?

    Grease Traps and Dishwashers

    The big question most kitchens ask is ‘can grease traps be fitted to commercial dishwashers’? Unfortunately, it’s not that straight forward hence there are conflicting opinions and advice surrounding this topic.

    In theory, there is no reason why a trap or separator can’t be fitted to a dishwasher, as long as it is of suitable capacity to cope with the large flow rate. The overall effectiveness of the system however is the issue that causes debate. Ultimately how well the interceptor performs is determined by the final position and situation of the unit in relation to the warewasher.

    What’s the Problem?

    The main issue is that the high water temperature ejected from the dishwasher mixed with detergent could hinder the successful operation of the FOG management system.Clean plate

    Dishwashing detergents are designed to break down grease and therefore could potentially begin breaking down FOG in the interceptor. High temperatures could heat solidified FOG, returning it to a fluid that can travel farther into the sewer. This doesn’t prevent possible fatberg production, just passes the problem further down the line where it will again solidify and cause blockages. If a trap isn’t ‘trapping’ then it’s effectively redundant.

    These points, whilst viable don’t mean that grease containment solutions can’t be effective when working in conjunction with a dishwasher. Correct positioning however, is vital.

    Placement is Key

    A grease trap should never be installed too close to a dishwasher. The high flow rate and hot temperatures can prevent the effective separation of FOG, potentially forcing any fats, oils and grease already contained straight through to the sewer. The sheer volume of water flushed through the system could result in the bypassing of preventative measures completely, rendering them ineffective.

    The water expelled from a dishwasher generally sits between 50°C and 80°C. At these temperatures the FOG present in effluent will remain fluid, any fat already stored in the box potentially melting. Passive and mechanical systems rely on the cooling and solidification process to successfully capture FOG; difficult to achieve when combined with high temperatures.

    Commercial dish washer

    In order for an interceptor to be effective fats need to be contained for long enough at the right temperature for them to solidify. Grease management systems should therefore be positioned with enough distance between the dishwasher and the trap to allow water to sufficiently cool to regular effluent temperatures before entering the interceptor.

    What Size Do I Need?

    Some operations may opt to install multiple smaller traps around the kitchen to serve individual equipment. Alternatively, a large single unit could be installed to service the kitchen as a whole. Fittings and appliances will often all be connected to a main drain; all waste directed to the same outlet before entering the public sewer system. In some circumstances, this could be the perfect position for a trap to catch debris from a commercial dishwasher. It’s far enough away from warewashing systems to allow for water to have cooled and it will encompass all kitchen equipment, meeting all FOG containment requirements. If opting for this set-up it’s vital that the system installed is large enough to accommodate effluent from the entire kitchen and meet the combined flow rate of the business as a whole.

    Top Tip: It’s imperative to install a trap capable of dealing with the connected flow rate. A site survey is strongly recommended to assess individual needs and ascertain the right solution for each individual kitchen.

    We Recommend

    One product on the market that can withstand potential high temperature effluent is the Goslyn grease recovery unit. This is a non-mechanical GRU that doesn’t require FOG to solidify to operate effectively. The Goslyn automatic grease trap instead employs its own heater to maintain the fluid state of fats, oils and grease before utilising hydro-static pressure to force FOG out and into a separate container. It is this difference in operation from standard traps that makes it ideal for use in conjunction with a commercial dishwasher.

    Legislation states that any effluent leaving a commercial kitchen that could potentially contain FOG must pass through a grease trap. Technically all dishwashers should be connected somewhere along the line according to guidelines however it is the placement of this grease interceptor and how it is set-up that determines its effectiveness.

  • Clearing the FOG After Bonfire Night

     

    You’ve enjoyed the bonfire, marvelled at the fireworks and indulged in delicious food to warm the cockles in the chilly evening; Bonfire night is complete for another year. The fog may be clearing after the fireworks but what about the FOG below your feet?

    The Season of the Fatberg

    Hotdog

    Although fatbergs can form at any point throughout the year, late autumn and winter offer prime conditions to cultivate the real monsters. Cold weather will often lead the population towards hearty foods, dishes typically associated with more FOG producing potential. Warming classics such as stews, roasts and soups are a regular occurrence with Bonfire night alone seeing a marked increase in greasy favourites such as burgers and sausages a decent helping of fried onions. Unless impeccable levels of grease management are continuously practiced, there’s a good chance of higher quantities of FOG being introduced to the sewer system. More FOG = more fatberg building materials.

    This time of year also sees dramatically colder weather. A drop in temperature leads to sewer pipes being generally colder, meaning that FOG solidifies more quickly. Rapidly solidifying FOG means fatbergs are formed in less time. Combine this with the increase in fats, oils and grease and it’s a recipe for disaster.

    An Ongoing Battle

    Fatbergs aren’t a new phenomenon and appear to have been a concern as far back as the Victorian era when the idea of a grease trap first came into existence. There are multiple cases around the country at any one time; some not yet developed enough to cause issues, others so large they pose obstruction risks. Not only blocking sewer systems and causing untold damage to underground structures, fatbergs also potentially threaten hygiene and health with harmful bacteria reproducing freely. Just because we only occasionally hear about the gargantuan masses, it doesn’t mean that they’re not always there – the problem goes much deeper.

    Think along the lines of Ghostbusters 2 with something evil and fetid spawning beneath our feet. Instead of a freely flowing river of slime, picture a congealed bulk waiting to attack and burst forth onto the streets. Grease traps both passive and automatic are the super heroes ready to save the day by preventing fatberg ingredients from amassing in the sewers.

    The obvious breeding grounds for supersize fatbergs are highly populated areas where a Populated areavariety of premises converge; places where commercial and domestic buildings go hand in hand. High quantities of FOG from foodservice businesses combined with sanitary products and wet wipes etc. from domestic residences, hotels and hospitals merge in the outdated sewer system to create the prime spot for fatberg formation. The pipework beneath major cities is under continuous scrutiny, with teams on the lookout for any potential problems before they arise.

    It falls to water companies to take up arms and tackle these rancid beasts. The only way to clear congealed aggregations of waste is by hand with the help of pressure washers, shovels, a great deal of protective clothing and a whole heap of elbow grease (the non-fatberg forming kind). The unwavering dedication of water companies, in particular the ‘flushers’ (an affectionate name for the people on the front line) is what keeps our sewer systems in good working order. The unrecognised protectors of our sewer systems, it is they who have the responsibility of hunkering down to tackle the monstrosities lurking in the depths. The sheer scale of the problem and work involved comes with a price tag though.

    The Cost of Fatbergs

    The cost of clearing fatbergs and repairing any damage within a specified zone falls to the national water company responsible for that area.

    The accumulative figure for the UK as a whole to stay on top of fatberg formations is currently estimated at an eye-watering £80 million. This figure isn’t divided equally however; the budget for each authority in no way directly proportionate to the square miles it covers. Obviously, regions with more heavily populated areas must budget for a greater expenditure as they naturally tackle a higher total amount of effluent.

    SewerThames Water alone estimates it spends approximately £1 million every month within its jurisdiction. This staggering amount only covers the cost of clearing blockages alone without taking in to account any damage caused by fatbergs, the potential disruption to traffic and the pungent smells likely to invade the area. Although Thames Water isn’t the biggest authority based on square miles, it primarily consists of large, built-up, densely populated areas where the prime ingredients for fatbergs are in abundance.

    Scottish Water reportedly spend around £6.5 million per year on clearing blockages and while it services the largest land coverage, it includes vast remote areas where FOG won’t necessarily be an issue.

    It’s these exorbitant sums that have led to authorities clamping down on the main offenders - foodservice businesses. Any new business set-up is required to install appropriate grease trap protection. Whilst not compulsory for existing businesses, it is strongly urged to address current grease management procedures and take action to limit the amount of effluent ending up down the drain.

    Teams of investigators (fatberg busters, if you will) are on the case, monitoring the situation and tracing blockages back to the source. If a blockage occurs and is successfully traced back, massive fines can be issued to cover the expense of clearing and removal. Kitting out commercial kitchens and catering operations with suitable grease traps could avoid experiencing large potential payouts in the future.

    What’s Next?

    Unfortunately, while people remain oblivious to the results of their actions, fatbergs will always be an issue. Education is the key. Teaching businesses and homes about the dangers of FOG and informing of simple grease management procedures and grease trap equipment to prevent fatberg creation, this is a battle we can and will win. The first step has already been taken, with the media highlighting fatberg reports and getting people talking. Detailing the clearing costs involved and the generally disgusting nature of the results, it’s time to use the public’s strange fascination with the gruesome to capture their attention; using the lure of the repugnant to highlight this very important issue.

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