Cost Comparison:  Pumping v. Chemicals to Maintain a Grease Trap
Monday, March 11, 2024
drain care

Cost Comparison: Pumping v. Chemicals to Maintain a Grease Trap

There are two main options to clean a grease trap: (1) pump out the grease trap regularly or (2) add chemicals to the trap and pump out less frequently. All grease traps need to be pumped out, but the frequency of pump outs can be reduced by adding chemicals to the trap.

Knowing whether to pump out at a frequent cadence or add chemicals and pump out less frequently can be a difficult decision. Part of the decision-making challenge is difficulty understanding the prices of these options.

At State Chemical, we sell grease trap maintenance chemicals across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The prices included below for grease trap maintenance chemicals reflect the actual prices that we currently charge our customers. State Chemical does not provide grease trap pumping services. The prices included for pumping a grease trap reflect the actual prices of a grease trap pumping company based in California.

This article compares the price of pumping out a grease trap versus the price of using chemicals to treat a grease trap. It then uses an example to demonstrate whether adding chemicals can save you money.

 Diagram depicting how a grease trap works. The grease trap is depicted as a rectangular box with a drainage pipe on each end.  First, wastewater enters the trap through a drainage pipe. Second, the grease trap has a mechanism that separates the FOGs from the water. Third, the water leaves the grease trap from another pipe, while the FOGs remain in the grease trap.

A Grease Trap Collects Fats, Oils, and Greases

A grease trap collects fats, oils, and greases (“FOGs”) in a commercial kitchen. The grease trap prevents FOGs from entering the city’s sewer system. Most cities require commercial kitchens to contain a grease trap because FOGs can clog the city sewer system. The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) found that grease is the most common cause of drain blockages. Cities require grease traps to avoid these blockages.

A grease trap works by separating FOGs from wastewater. The FOGs remain in the grease trap and the water leaves the trap and flows into the city sewer. The FOGs then solidify into a solid block in the grease trap. This solid block resembles solidified bacon grease that has been left in a pan. FOGs in the grease trap need to be cleaned out on a regular cadence.

Grease traps vary by size. An indoor grease trap is found inside a building and is 10 – 500 gallons. An outdoor grease trap is found outside a building and is more than 500 gallons. Outdoor grease traps are also called grease interceptors.

All Grease Traps Need to Be Pumped Out

All grease traps must be pumped out. When a grease trap is pumped out, an individual removes all the FOGs from the grease trap and properly disposes of them at a designated facility.

Many cities legally require kitchens with a grease trap to pump out the grease trap. Even if you are not legally required to pump the grease trap, all grease traps will eventually need to be pumped out. There is no way to completely eliminate pumping.

However, adding chemicals to the grease trap can reduce the cadence in which grease traps must be pumped out. Many kitchens that need to pump out monthly without chemical maintenance reduce their pump-out schedule to once per quarter by adding chemical maintenance.

Grease Trap Pumping Costs Between $175-950 Per Pump If The Trap Is Already Well Maintained.

Now that you understand what a grease trap is, the next step is to determine how much money it will cost you to treat the trap. A grease trap pumping company in California estimates that you can use their services to pump out an indoor regularly-serviced grease trap for $175 – 475 and an outdoor regularly-serviced grease interceptor for $325-950. However, the price is 3x as high if the grease trap hasn’t been regularly maintained. The cost for pumping out an unmaintained indoor grease trap is $525 – 1425 and the price for pumping out an unmaintained outdoor grease interceptor is $975 – 2850.

The factors that impact the price of grease trap pumping include whether the grease trap has been properly maintained, the size of the grease trap, and how accessible the grease trap is. It is more expensive to pump out a large grease trap that hasn’t been regularly maintained because that service takes more time than a smaller well-maintained grease trap.

Grease Trap Chemicals Cost Between $150-400 Per Month.

In addition to pumping out the grease trap, you can add chemicals to treat the trap. You cannot eliminate the need to pump, but adding chemicals can reduce that need.

A grease trap chemical program with State Chemical costs $150 – 400 monthly. The cost depends on the severity of the grease in the grease trap. If there is more grease in the grease trap, more potent chemicals must be used and those chemicals must be used at higher concentrations than if there is less grease in the grease trap.

Example: If you change from monthly pump-outs to chemicals and quarterly pump-outs, you can save over $1,800 per year.

Now that we have examined the pricing of grease trap pump outs and chemicals, we will use an example to demonstrate how to determine whether adding chemicals to the trap can save you money.

If you have a well-maintained outdoor grease trap, are not using chemical maintenance, and need to pump the grease trap monthly, your yearly average price is $3,900-11,400. Assuming you are at a median price point, your annual cost to pump out is $7,650.

Many kitchens that add chemical maintenance reduce their pump-out schedule from once per month to once per quarter. The average price for chemicals is $140-400 per month. If you are at a median price point, your annual cost for chemicals is $3,240. Adding $3,240 to the cost to pump out quarterly of $2,550, your total cost to use chemicals and have quarterly pump out is $5,790 per year.

Thus, changing from pumping out monthly to using chemicals and pumping out quarterly saves you over $1,800 per year.

In Summary: Compare Pricing to Learn If Adding Chemicals to Your Grease Trap Maintenance is Right for You

Adding chemical solutions to a grease trap may or may not be right for you. In the example above, adding a chemical solution saved $1,800, but the math differs for all situations.

To learn if chemicals can save you money, contact State Chemical. We will conduct a personalized survey of your grease trap and help you identify whether adding chemicals to your grease trap is right for you.