Best Practices for Restaurant and Foodservice Plumbing

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Total Food Service is constantly answering questions from readers about hot and cold topics in the kitchen. The hot products are of course cook-oriented and range from maintaining a range battery to some technologies associated with a combi oven. On the cold side, it’s the struggle to keep ice machines, walk-in boxes and reach-ins going to ensure the best possible customer experience.

What is often overlooked is the role that plumbing plays in each of these crucial segments of a restaurant and catering business. We realized it was time to investigate these plumbing issues as restaurant and food service operators head into spring and summer.

Joel Matthews Popular PlumbingJoel Matthews, popular plumbing

We have therefore set ourselves the goal of finding and sharing the sanitary know-how that our restaurant and food service readers need in order to develop a best-practice strategy for their business. TFS was able to get the thoughts from Joel Matthews, one of Day & Nite’s experts on popular plumbing technicians, on connecting plumbing and restaurant equipment to maximum capacity.

Let’s talk about a restaurant / food service operator’s primary installation issues should one be careful?

Drainage stops must be observed and avoided. They’re usually caused by employees moving quickly through tasks. Food and debris accumulate in the drain, causing stoppages. My best advice to avoid a bigger problem is to install a strainer or a drain lock, and to regularly dispose of your drains in conjunction with our environmentally friendly microbial treatment to ensure that any residue that enters the sewer is properly broken up. Not only do these steps keep your drains clogging free, but they also prevent unpleasant odors.

What are some of the other problems you see with restaurants?

Common problems we see can be caused by the cleaning crew. Often times, staff push the water and any debris on the floor straight down the drain, causing clogging. The overflow of water mixed with gloves, spoons, straws, etc., creates significant problems in the drain, especially if left on for a long period of time. I recommend installing a drain lock so the crew have to pick up and throw away debris.

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Can you walk us through some of the drain problems you see?

One serious problem we see in kitchens is the insects that breed in the drain. Annihilators always try to kill the flies, but they don’t go into the floor sinks as needed. So we splash the lines and use a microbial solution to stop the buildup of fat and clogs that allow insects to breed larvae.

We see a lot of plumbers in the kitchen because garbage is being flushed down the sewer system. We also see a lot of problems near the bar area where we see various straws or other beverage accessories backing up by throwing whatever is in the glass down the drain with the ice.

There are common problems in the bathroom too; We usually see sanitary wipes thrown in the toilet or urinal. Sanitary towels and other common substances don’t dissolve like regular toilet paper or trash and cause a large backlog in the drain. As you can imagine, avoiding a backup in the bathroom is very important as you never know what will come with it.

Can’t I hire our pest control company to clean the drain?

Pest control companies generally don’t maintain drains. Most of the time, these companies use harsh chemicals to keep flies away, but they don’t remove residue and leave a perfect breeding ground. Popular Plumbing has an eco-friendly microbial solution that eats away some of the debris that causes debris in the drains, bacteria that create a smell and keep insects and other vermin away, without damaging the drain pipes. Only a licensed plumber with the proper equipment can clean the inside of the pipes sufficiently to remove food, debris, and larvae.

Most restaurants cook on gas. What role does a plumber play in handling gas in a commercial kitchen?

Popular plumbing make sure the plumbing is installed correctly and run several tests while the main line is turned off to make sure the correct pressure is being maintained. You need to have the right people doing the job. Larger gas lines require additional testing and all valves must be properly tightened for proper function. Permits are required and the area must be evacuated while the work is being carried out.

Sanitary risks microbial treatmentThe before and after of a microbial treatment process managed by approved plumbers that eliminates the need for pumping as the injected microbes safely eliminate organics.

What do you think of best practices for drains?

The best course of action for commercial kitchens is to keep up with the maintenance of your drains, including meandering the drains, once a month in high traffic locations, or once a quarter for businesses with less traffic and treating your drains with our microbial solution. Keeping your drains treated will keep costs down in the long run as fat is what causes most of the stoppages we’ve seen that cause long-term damage. Grease and oil are sticky, and dirt is quick to stick and clog up. The fat hardens to such an extent that it can no longer be broken down. You have to get in and physically remove the block, which can be costly.

How about a suggested approach to grease traps?

To avoid having to pump your drains every month, the best solution to common problems is to get your drains treated. Our treatments keep odors out of the drain and break down stuck materials to prevent the plumbing from being damaged. So, you don’t have to call a plumber to snake the drain. If fat is allowed to sit in the pipes, the fat will become moldy and the pipes will start to rot from the inside. If you allow the pipes to rot, you will need to replace the system every four years on average.

What kind of prevention strategy will a plumber who specializes in commercial kitchens use with a grease trap?

To avoid fat problems, we recommend three levels of protection:

  • Sink Guard – a strainer in the sink to prevent grains of rice or vegetables from spilling into the drain lines
  • Drain protection – a basket strainer that can be removed and emptied
  • Total protection – an injection system that injects warm water into microbes overnight while the kitchen is not open.

Microbes eat fat, oil and fat along with organic matter. This eliminates bad smells, stops, prevents insects from spreading, and relieves airborne diseases.

We would return once a month to clean the grease trap of non-organic matter and replenish microbes.

That seems like a lot on the proverbial plate?

Many people do not think that grease trap cleaning is necessary. Most people believe that the trap itself works well enough not to have any problems. Most plumbing calls are emergency calls and can be avoided by routinely servicing the drains. Over time, the damage caused by non-regular maintenance can be immense and costly, as the drainage line may need to be re-laid.

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