One of the challenges kitchen and cleaning workers in the food service industry grapple with is FOG: Fats, Oils, and Grease collecting in drains.
FOG is considered the most common cause of slow and blocked drains in a commercial kitchen. Fat, oil, and grease flow down drains initially, but as they cool, they harden, slowing drainage and causing drain backups.
“Of the three, grease is the big problem,” says Mike Watt with Avmor, a leading manufacturer of professional cleaning solutions for the foodservice industry. “Grease does not dissolve with water. Instead, it clings to drain pipes.”
As oil and fats cool, they join the grease and collect on the sides of pipes as well.
“Some kitchen workers pour vinegar or baking powder down slow moving or blocked drains,” says Watt. “Or they use a plunger. In most cases, these do not help, and [using] the plunger may damage the pipe.”
Instead, Watt suggests doing the following to get rid of the FOG:
Remove the drain cover. “Sometimes the blockage just involves the drain cover.”
Pour boiling water down the drain. “Just be careful. Boiling water will soften the FOG so it flows down the drain, but accidents have happened using this method.”
Use a hand auger. While these can prove useful, “make sure you know how to use one first… and this can be a messy job. Always wear gloves and goggles.”
Use a drain “maintainer.” Drain maintainers work by digesting the FOG. Using a microbial-based formation that eats and degrades the FOG, after use, water can be used to rinse the drain, removing any grease and oil residue along with any other soils in the drain.
Finally, Watt adds that usually there are warning signals before a FOG problem gets serious.