If you've recently purchased a local restaurant known for its greasy, down-home style of cooking, you may find yourself dealing with years (or decades) of deferred maintenance and a plumbing system that has taken on too much oil over the years. Cleaning and restoring this building before launching your own restaurant can be a challenge, and you may be eager to put the past behind you and move forward with your own spot. However, doing so before you've gotten your plumbing back on its feet can be a risk. Read on to learn more about your best grease disposal options, through places like Tierra Environmental & Industrial Services, as well as some steps you can take to get your plumbing into good working order before you re-open your restaurant's doors to customers.
How should you dispose of used cooking oil going forward?
Even if you don't plan to continue the prior owners' greasy traditions, you'll likely need to dispose of your own cooking or frying oil on occasion. As you've probably observed, flushing this oil down your pipes can cause expensive damage -- so what should you do with it instead?
One option is to enlist some local ecologically-minded folks who convert cooking oil into biodiesel fuel to power their vehicles or small appliances. Many who rely on cooking oil to brew their own biodiesel will go around to area restaurants to obtain their waste oil; and in most cases, you'll be able to arrange this pickup for free, without paying any recycling or disposal fees. (As a bonus, if your oil recyclers are willing to do some promotion in exchange for the free cooking oil, you may opt to print up "Powered By My Restaurant" bumper stickers for display on their vehicles.)
Another option is to invest in a grease recycling service. After draining your fryer grease and cooking oil every night and placing it into a central receptacle, you'll be able to arrange to have this receptacle picked up and replaced with a clean one on a regular basis. This service is fairly low cost and can be a good way to rid your restaurant of used cooking oil without putting your plumbing at risk or requiring you to make arrangements with individuals who may only take a portion of the grease you've produced. If you anticipate only needing this service once every few weeks, you should be able to arrange for more infrequent pick-ups.
What can you do to clean and restore your restaurant's plumbing before opening?
Although it can be tempting to open your restaurant as soon as possible, putting your plumbing through the wear and tear that can come from operating a full-service restaurant with grease-caked pipes can set you up for an expensive and embarrassing plumbing disaster. It's always a good idea to have your pipes professionally cleaned and inspected well before your opening date so that you'll be able to go forth with confidence.
Sewer cleaning companies can utilize everything from augers that literally chop away grease to high-powered hoses that flush it into the main sewer pipe. In most cases, even the most grease-caked pipes can't withstand this onslaught of tools, and you should have your pipes flowing freely in short order.
Because grease and debris that is left caked on the walls of pipes for years or decades can often cause corrosion, it's often worthwhile to have your pipes visually inspected with a drain camera before and after cleaning. Performing this extra step can let you know whether any of your pipes are damaged and need to be repaired or replaced, completing your plumbing inspection and repair and giving you the go-ahead to open your restaurant's doors (and bathrooms) for the first time.