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How to Prevent Clogged Commercial Kitchen Drains?

How to Prevent Clogged Commercial Kitchen Drains?

There’s no doubt about it. The last 18 months have been tough for the hospitality industry. With many restaurants, cafes and pubs having to close their doors for months on end as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, now that restrictions have been lifted and these venues are open again, it’s more than important than ever that they keep running smoothly. 

Clogged drains can cause big issues for chefs and restaurant managers everywhere, preventing a key part of the kitchen from functioning and, in extreme cases, even causing it to shut. 

Prevention is always better than cure; in this article, we’ll explain how to prevent drains from becoming clogged and what to do if you do experience a blocked drain in your kitchen.                     

restaurant sink

How Do Commercial Sinks and Drains Get Clogged?

Before we delve into how to prevent a sink or drain from becoming clogged, it’s important to understand how they become blocked in the first place. There are a number of ways that this can occur.

Commercial kitchens frequently handle all manner of fats, oils and greases that take on a liquid form at high temperatures. Often, these substances are poured down drains in the kitchen. As they cool in the drainage pipes, they congeal and harden resulting in the formation of fatbergs. These fatbergs can cause large blockages that end up clogging your drain.

There are also a wide range of legal requirements and legislation that hospitality businesses must comply with when it comes to disposing of fats, oils and greases including the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Water Industry Act 1991 and Food Safety Act 1990.

Another common way that drains in commercial kitchens can become clogged is through food waste. When washing up in a fast-paced environment, it can become easy for scraps of food to end up down the drain. Over time, these scraps can build up and become a significant blockage.           


Equipment You Need to Unclog Sinks

If you do encounter a clogged sink in your commercial kitchen, there is certain equipment that can help. If the good, old fashioned hot water down the drain doesn’t do the trick, then a good course of action is to use a plunger. 

People often associate plungers with toilet blockages, but they can help here, too (just don’t use the same plunger in both the kitchen and the bathroom!) Simply fill the clogged sink up halfway with water, before applying the plunger and performing an up and down motion. 

If you are unsuccessful, then a drain snake might be required. For drains that clog on a more regular basis, this type of equipment can help. Place the hooked end into the sink and slide it down the pipe until you reach the blockage. Then, slowly pull and shake the drain snake bringing the clog out from the pipes, clearing the sink. 

If none of these DIY approaches has an impact, then it’s time to call in the professionals.                     


Drain Unclogging Myths 

If you work in or run a commercial kitchen, you need to have a thorough understanding of what the dos and don’ts are when it comes to unclogging drains. Unfortunately, there are many myths and misconceptions which can confuse matters.    

One of the most widespread myths is that chemical products are a great way to unclog drains. While your average supermarket chemical product might be a good short-term fix, it can actually have a negative effect over time. The corrosive nature of these products is likely to damage the pipework, causing bigger issues in the future.

Often, staff in commercial kitchens believe that ‘fashionable oils’, such as coconut or rapeseed, are not as harsh on drains and sinks. However, this is also a myth. These types of oils are just as likely to form fatbergs and cause blockages as traditional oils.    

Another common misconception is that a slow running drain is not a big deal. This is not the case. In fact, if a sink is taking its time to drain, it’s probably the first indication that something is not quite right, and you should get it looked at before any further problems occur. 


How to Prevent Clogged Commercial Drains 

Now you know all about what causes clogged drains and how to deal with them, let’s take a look at how to prevent it from happening in the first place. 

Many commercial kitchens that handle fat, oils and grease on a regular basis have precautions in place to account for a blockage. These establishments often have grease traps in place. Grease traps are dedicated containers that water, along with fat, oil and grease, passes through en route to the drainage system. 

While the water carries on its journey to the sewers, these other substances are trapped in the tank. If you do have a grease tank installed then it’s important to clean and empty it regularly. If not, it can overflow, causing the substances to be pushed into the drainage system anyway – therefore negating the purpose of the tank. We recommend clearing out the tank at least every three months, but this will vary depending on how much you use your commercial kitchen.

Another great way to prevent drains from becoming clogged is to ensure that you or your staff don’t discard food scraps in the sink. Make sure that plates are scraped directly into the bin to avoid large chunks of food from getting stuck in the drain. Another good defence mechanism against this is to place a strainer in the bottom of the sink so it catches food scraps before they enter the drainage system. 


If these prevention techniques don’t work, or if you’ve encountered a blockage anyway, it’s important to address it as soon as possible. At Express Clear Solutions, we have an extensive range of drain unblocking services available. Whether you require emergency support or ongoing maintenance, we have a whole host of skilled engineers who can assist you no matter how big or small your drain blockage. Don’t let your commercial kitchen be at risk of drain blockages, get in touch today to find out how we can help.             


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