4 Common Problems with Commercial Grease Traps

Grease trap plastic box with fatty water floating on top and chemical bubble.

Commercial kitchens put so much value on grease traps as they filter out a lot of fats, grease, and oils, from wastewater. A dysfunctional grease trap may also lead to health code violations as well as unsanitary kitchen conditions, both of which can end the operation of your business. Given all these, it is important to identify the common problems that might occur.

Crossover clog

Remember that a grease trap has two compartments. The first compartment is meant to separate the solids and the liquids. Meanwhile, the second compartment is meant to support the release of the remaining wastewater in the sewer system.

A clog in the crossover happens when sold debris builds in the crossover line that is supposed to divide the grease trap into two compartments. This clog will cause the first compartment to rise above the normal limit while the second still remains normal. 

Line Clog

Clogs in both the incoming and outgoing lines of the grease traps can be caused by problems within the grease trap itself. Incoming lines, or the pipes that connect the sink to the trap, can get clogged when there is a buildup of hardened grease. Outgoing lines can get clogged when there is an overflow in the compartments of the grease trap.

Both types of clogging can be mitigated by preventing any fat, grease, or oil from draining into the sink. The grease should be properly disposed of in a sealed container. As much as possible, any grease that can get intercepted should be done so even before it touches the sink. 


A grease trap has several compartments to be able to separate the water from the grease. When the compartment that holds the grease overflows to the other side where water is conveyed through the sewer system, the grease can cause clogging.

To determine whether the grease has overflowed already in the compartment, you can stick and dip a pole to measure how deep the grease goes. The grease should be pumped out when the depth of the grease is at or near the bottom.

Bad smell

Foul odor from grease traps should not happen even though it intercepts fat, oil, and grease that become rancid over time. A well-functioning grease trap should be airtight. It should be able to do its work without emitting a rotten odor.

A bad smell coming from the grease trap means two things. One, the grease trap may not be airtight anymore. The cause of this problem could be a loose gasket in its opening. Two, the grease trap gets full of sludge or food solids that settle at the bottom. Regularly pump out and clean the grease trap to minimize the formation of sludge.


Grease traps are a hundred-year-old innovation that helps people stop grease and fats from going into the sewer system and clogging it. They are important tools in both households and commercial establishments. However, grease traps are not self-maintaining. Owners of grease traps should be responsible for maintaining their cleanliness and proper functioning.

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