How Drains Get Clogged
Due to the fast pace restaurant business, staff is not quick to pick up debris that lands on the floor. Eventually this debris gets kicked or swept into the floor sinks or unprotected floor drains. While floor sinks have a sediment basket to catch debris, once it is removed to empty into the trash the basket, for some reason, often does not make its’ way back into the floor sink allowing more debris to enter the drain. While most floors sinks come with a dome or a strainer it is not lockable. When strainers and domes are not lockable and a drain back up occurs, staff tends to clear the clog by reaching into the soupy mess in order to remove the strainer and allow the floor sink to drain. If the debris is large or heavy enough it gets caught up in the P-Trap (a P-traps sole purpose is to stop odors and bugs from entering the building by the means of holding water). Floor drain can also get their P-traps clogged the same way when the grates are not secured and left unattended for someone to easily remove allowing unwanted debris down the drain. When a P-Trap gets too much debris in it causing a clog staff or night cleaners may use the end of a broom to attempt to clear the clog. This practice causes damage to the P-Trap.
Preventative Maintenance (PM)
Drains that are well protected will eventually face blockage and clogs due to grease coating the drain lines. Grease building up in a greasy waste line is inevitable and can be easily remedied by hiring a plumber to hydro jet the greasy waste lines once a year. Asian concepts may require a bi-annual service due to peanut oil being stickier. Proper jetting is with a trailer mounted jetter that produced 4000psi, anything less will take more time and effort to clean the lines and is not encouraged. There will be some locations that are not reachable with a trailed mounted jetter leaving a portable hydro jetter with less psi as the only option. Best practice for a hydro-jetting PM would be to schedule the service the day before your in ground grease interceptor is pumped. This will allow debris and grease build up in the drain lines to be pushed into the trap and pumped out immediately.
Cabling a drain is not encouraged as it punches though the grease and/or debris and does not thoroughly clean the pipes. It can also break the P-trap if serviced too often. Chemical treatment to remove grease may not always work and ends-up costing more than a simple jetting service.
Using a plastic drain lock is risky as it will get damaged by abusive staff and night cleaners. It is very common to see staff or night cleaners use a steak knife to cut through the plastic or use the end of the broomstick pushing the core deeper into the drain. Plastic caught in a drain line or fitting is not normally removable unless the floor and pipe is dug up to clear the blockage.
Ways to clear a clog yourself before calling a plumber
Be sure floor sink drains are protected with a metal top drain lock and floor drains have tamperproof screws and floor drain grates (Recommend installing tamper proof Torx 3/8 T-25 (10-24) Machine Screws). If the floor drain screws have been stripped an affordable replacement would be the Guardian Drain Lock floor drain model.
When a single drain line backs-up, a restaurant staff member can clear a clog on their own before calling a plumber. Two simple hints:
1) Use a Wet-Vac to remove any build up in a P-Trap by sucking it out. A five gallon Wet-Vac is recommended as it needs to hold as much water as the floor sink or drain line/P-trap.
2) Use a Kleer Drain C02 devise to blow high pressure air into the drain line breaking up debris (sold at Home Depot or Lowes). A more advanced tool would be a Kinetic water ram, but be careful not to pump pressure greater than 30 psi. Be very careful when using the Kinetic water ram or the Kleer Drain and be sure to read the instructions before using. These devises have a about a 50% success rate of clearing a clog and can blow water everywhere, even to a 20’ ceiling….Be careful!