Food Service Operations

BBQAbilene residents love their BBQ! The kind of food that has a lot of grease. Instead of washing out greasy trays in the sink, wipe with a paper towel first to cut down on grease.

Natural Byproducts

Fats, oils, and grease are a natural byproduct of foodservice operations, which can include restaurants, cafeterias in office buildings, catering businesses and church kitchens.

However, when fats, oils, and grease are disposed of improperly, it can wreak havoc on foodservice drains and sewer pipes. The worst outcome is a sewer line back up, creating rancid odors, expensive cleanup, and repair, potential contact with disease-causing organisms and higher operating costs.

Grease Traps

To avoid this problem, entities that provide food service must keep and maintain a grease trap or interceptor, a plumbing device designed to intercept most fats, grease, and solids before they enter the main sewer line. Grease traps capture grease from the wastewater flow, slow down the flow of hot greasy water and allow it to cool.

Without a well-maintained grease trap, greasy water goes into your building's sewer line and out into the city sewer, coating the pipes with grease along the way. Over time, that grease hardens to form a clog - especially in places where the pipe turns or is dented - which causes the sewer to back up into the closest building. That could be your food service operation, or your neighbor's flower shop down the street.

Float-Able Substances

As the water cools, the grease separates and floats to the top of the trap while the water flows down the pipe into the sewer. It is proven that grease traps catch more than 95% of all float-able substances, including:

  • Fats
  • Greases
  • Oils
  • Waxes

More Tips & Information

A grease trap is a device that separates grease and solids from wastewater before it enters the sanitary sewer. Grease traps are installed as part of the plumbing at food service facilities such as restaurants and cafeterias.


There are two types of grease traps:

  • Small grease traps (50 gallons or less) are much smaller and are often located indoors under the three-compartment sink.
  • Large grease traps (more than 50 gallons) are usually located outside and typically have manhole type lids.

They both operate essentially the same way. Dirty, greasy water from kitchen sinks, dishwashers, etc. goes into the grease trap along with any food scraps that get washed down the drain. The mixture separates into three layers as it cools. Food scraps and solids sink to the bottom, grease floats to the top, and water ends up in the middle. As the grease layer and solids layer build-up, the water goes through a series of baffles and eventually to the outlet of the trap.


Workings of a Grease Trap

Some facilities also have a holding tank to recycle used frying oil, but this is not a grease trap since it’s not connected to the sewer system.

Good Kitchen Practices

Cool It. Can It. Trash It! applies to businesses as well as residents. One way to keep pump out frequencies to a minimum is to reduce the amount of grease and food scraps going into the trap in the first place.

  • Make sure your employees are not pouring oil or grease down the drain (including floor drains).
  • Scrape food scraps into the trash.
  • Wipe greasy pans and dishes with a paper towel before putting them in the sink or dishwasher.
  • Use a sink strainer in the drain to catch smaller bits of food.

By following good kitchen practices and maintaining your grease trap, you can avoid costly repairs and clean up from a backup or overflow.

More Information

Contact the City of Abilene Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) Program by calling (325) 437-4505.