As a restaurateur, you’ll face a number of different problems and challenges. You could have external concerns like an irate customer, or you could have internal ones like inventory management or restaurant plumbing problems.
You know, however, that it doesn’t end there. In every case, identifying the problem is only the first step, but you know that solving it is the more challenging one. What steps will you take to address the above issues? Can the problem be fixed internally or does it require external help?
When there is a problem with your service, most especially with your property, you will find yourself in this position. One reason you should be at the top of your operations and management is because of this. Preventive measures are always better than curative measures.
We will be discussing plumbing, one of the most apparent but usually overlooked aspects of restaurant operations in this article. During the course of daily operations, customer service, or even inventory management, it is easy to miss this important element of your property.
Plumbing in Restaurants 101
Kitchens and restrooms are among the places where plumbing problems are most likely to occur. These are also your most frequently used zones. You should now be aware of the effects poor maintenance of plumbing can have on your business operations and on the overall dining experience of your customers.
Plumbing issues are one of the most common kitchen problems. As an establishment that prides itself on preparing and serving food, having clogged sinks and foul odor will hurt your brand. But as a restaurant owner, you should know this by now.
Working on this type of concern can also lead you to get that money down the drain. The costs of fixing a plumbing problem can exceed what you expect if not treated immediately. If you know the extent of damage grease can cause to drains and tubes, you might not want to find out.
Clogged pipes in restaurants can lead to flooding, overflows, and improper drainage, which are the main causes of plumbing problems. It is often a result of restaurant employees disposing food and other waste items down the drain rather than responsibly disposing of them in the trash.
What are the main areas to look out for?
The need to constantly avoid plumbing issues is understandable. However, you likely do not have the luxury of dedicating all your time to one part of your restaurant. Running a business is highly demanding, so it is only natural for you to try to work smarter to get the best results.
To help you maintain the best optimal condition for your plumbing department, here are the common areas you should check.
- Dishwashing station
- Frying station
- Grease traps
- Gas lines
Ensure that you have a group of staff members that’s dedicated to maintain and inspect these areas daily. If manpower is a concern for your business, you can just put this as an additional task for your staff on duty.
Set up a schedule and checklist to ensure that this responsibility is covered by every shift. Their maintenance could be minimal since they aren’t trained specifically for this area. Make sure that you’ll have an expert inspect your property every two weeks, or according to your need.
What are the most common plumbing issues in restaurants?
Prior to knowing which steps to take to prevent such concerns, you should first be aware of the issues to expect. Blindly going into a battle without knowing which one you’re fighting can be dangerous and can lead to failure.
It is still one of the most stressful environments to work in a restaurant, even with the most advanced restaurant technology solutions. Kitchens are constantly hustling, with few moments of rest. To keep all of the restaurant’s plumbing in top shape can be difficult during the day due to this.
There will be a great deal of food wastes, cleaning agents, debris, and other waste washed down the sink in restaurant kitchens. Large industrial sinks are often found in kitchens as these can hold dishes as well as large kitchen appliances that require routine cleaning.
There is a lot of debris that can pass through the drains in these sinks, causing there to be a blockage in the pipeline. In order for your sink to function effectively, they need to be maintained. Otherwise, routine clogs will make it difficult for the sinks to function.
In addition, grease and oils contribute greatly to what is known as clogs and can cause serious damage to the plumbing system of your business. These types of blockages are more common and regular in restaurants because of the higher volume of oil and grease used.
Gas line problems
A well-maintained gas line in your restaurant is not only necessary for the proper working of your kitchen, it is also crucial for safety. Having gas lines that are faulty can pose a grave safety risk to your workers and customers, and might even be the cause of serious injuries and damage to property.
Your restaurant’s bathrooms will have a lot of traffic every day, so clogs are expected to occur due to the constant flow of customers. Customers are not only using more toilets but also flushing sanitary products and wastes down the drain instead of discarding them.
As a consequence, a major blockage will take place, posing serious sanitation issues.
When your restaurant’s toilets are always clogged it indicates that there is something amiss with the plumbing. It’s a significant issue related to sanitation for a wide range of businesses, but restaurants are especially at risk.
Overflowed grease traps
It is common for restaurants to use grease traps to collect oils, fats, and grease in order to prevent clogging of the sewage system. Nonetheless, it is vital to maintain a clean grease trap as well as to regularly clean it.
Otherwise, an overflowing grease trap can flood your restaurant’s kitchen with old grease, fat, and debris as well as allow grease to pipe into the sewer line.
Professionals recommend emptying grease traps after a quarter of their capacity is reached. It ensures that your restaurant’s equipment won’t get clogged up or filled with grease, which will allow it to continue running smoothly. Be sure to maintain your equipment on a regular basis and you won’t have any major issues.
Restaurant Plumbing Process
Get familiar with how a plumbing process usually works by reading along. Understanding how the entire process works will help you formulate different strategies to handle plumbing problems.
Identify the source
First, you have to locate the source of your problem. Why is there a foul odor coming out of your entrance area? What causes the overflows and drain blockages? Why are the toilets continuously needed to be unclogged?
For you to prepare the proper measures in addressing the concerns, you have to know exactly what you’re dealing with. If it’s about the clog in the dishwashing area, then you may want to check on your grease traps.
Make efficient and effective use of your resources and energy. In most cases, it’s unproductive to keep going around checking everything when you can deal with the issue directly.
Quickly address the odor
Any mishaps on your restaurant’s plumbing system can cause foul odor that may reach the common areas of your establishment. This will result, of course, to an undesirable dining experience which may leave a mark on your customers.
If a concern already occurs, make sure that you can cover it’s traces while your team is addressing the main problem. If you’re going to wait until the drains are unclogged, the foul odor of clogged drainage systems might’ve already upset your customers.
It is beneficial to have air fresheners around the premises. Not only to address concerns of plumbing odors, but to also help eliminate unwanted odors from the kitchen.
Constantly check for backups
Why let your operations and finances suffer when you can prevent problems from happening? Inadequate installations and insufficient maintenance often result in the most costly plumbing repairs. If you don’t want to get one, then ensure that you’ll do proper maintenance on your establishment.
Hiring an industry professional to conduct a checkup on your plumbing system every once in a while should be helpful.
How To Stop Plumbing Issues in Your Restaurant
Nobody wants an already busy day slowed down by a plumbing emergency. Maintaining things is not complicated, but it does take a little due diligence and attention. A well-maintained restaurant plumbing system can reduce energy costs in general, conserve water, and avoid unexpectedly high water bills.
Here are some of the easiest and most practical tips you can use to ensure that your plumbing system is at its best condition. We make sure that everything on the list will be applicable to the daily operations of a restaurant.
Stay updated about the requirements and regulations
How to stay out of trouble? Stay informed. Being up-to-date with your local and national codes, requirements, and regulations about the water and plumbing system is one way to prevent issues.
Keep in mind that random inspections will be constantly conducted by your local health office. If they find that you fail to comply with their regulations, it could lead to serious trouble for you and your restaurant.
There are also a number of environmental laws that you need to know and incorporate on your plumbing system management. Malpractice and negligence on your end can lead to serious safety and health concerns.
Just like when solder that contained lead was banned for plumbing systems since 1986. It is known that using this material can leach lead into the water system and is highly toxic, especially to children.
Monitor the status of your drains
Every staff member is quite guilty of shoving a few food scrapings, or even a piece of debris into the kitchen sinks. This goes with your bar drains as well. If you’re thinking that it’s impossible since alcohol and drinks are its main product, then you might want to revisit it.
Clogged pipes are most often found behind the bar. It is common for bartenders to flush away the remnants of a cocktail, such as cherry stems, orange peels, and lime wedges, instead of throwing them out in the trash. Water slips down the holes in the bar drain as materials are flushed, causing a backup in the plumbing system.
Although some commercial kitchen sink clogs can be rectified by using suction, hydro jetting is advised in certain instances. As far as clearing drains goes, this method is considered as the most efficient and safest.
Hydro jets use high pressure water to break up debris in drains and push it through pipes so that it can drain into public sewer systems. If your restaurant has its plumbing system hydro jetted, its pipes should drain perfectly.
Hydro jetting is a more effective drain cleaner than liquid drain cleaners since it only utilizes water pressure.
It is best not to use liquid drain cleaners due to the fact that they can damage the pipes and harm those inhaling the fumes they produce. In commercial settings with food close at hand, this is especially relevant.
Check your dishwashing areas
In restaurants, the dishwashing station is the most common site of plumbing problems. There is often a lack of cleanliness on the plates before they are put in the dishwasher, such as the presence of leftover food, napkins, and other objects.
As a result, the dishwasher rinses the plates into the sink, which causes all the food and debris to fall into the drain, thus creating a clog.
The first step in preventing plumbing issues is training the servers to put leftovers in the garbage in an appropriate manner. If you want a back up, you can use wire mesh to prevent this from happening.
Take a piece of wire mesh and place it over the drain to prevent materials from going down the drain. It is the same mesh used in window and door screens. You can easily remove and clean the mesh. Over the long run, plumbing bills can be drastically reduced by using this practical piece of mesh.
Maintain your fryer’s cleanliness
Cooking appliances such as fryers also require attention. A daily routine should be followed for pulling out, draining, and cleaning these. It is common for the gas lines attached to these fryers to start to loosen as employees remove them from the wall.
In the event that the gas line becomes unattached and begins leaking gas, this is a potentially dangerous situation. This is a problem you want to avoid in the kitchen because it is always filled with heat and flames.
We need to teach the employees who are responsible for cleaning fryers how to use the machines correctly. Gas lines that become loose can also present a danger. They should be aware of it.
If the staff is properly trained to dispose of food, plumbing issues will be reduced to a large extent. It will also relieve you of headaches by teaching the fryer team how to clean the machines and save them a lot of money.
Clean your grease traps constantly
A plumber will need to periodically clean the grease traps in your restaurant. When fats get clogged in grease traps, they not only block the sewer system but can eventually clog septic tanks as well.
Several restaurant technology companies specialize in creating grease management solutions for restaurants, commercial kitchens, and other food-service businesses. Known also as grease interceptors, grease traps are designed to separate solids from grease, contain these wastes, and prevent them from reaching the sewage systems or septic tanks.
As a result of the high pH level in wastewater, metal grease traps are notorious for corroding. Plastic grease traps have therefore become popular with plumbing and foodservice professionals.
Be sure to keep your restrooms tidy
Having to think about restaurant toilets is not an enjoyable thought; however, it is a frequent problem for you, and many restaurant owners. It is not unusual for customers to behave badly when using public restrooms, resulting in plumbing problems.
Your restaurant’s entire reputation can be damaged by bathrooms with overflowing toilets or broken fixtures. Take a new approach to restroom management.
Install hand dryers as a substitute for paper towels. Using them is not only better for the environment, but you also eliminate the possibility that customers will flush paper towels down the toilet, or stuff them into sinks or drains.
If you are planning to provide feminine hygiene products, consider providing sanitary disposal containers. These substances can seriously damage pipes if flushed, causing sewage to back up throughout the system.
Keep the restrooms of your restaurant clean, and conduct regular inspections. You should replace worn out handles or slow flushing toilets before they become a problem.
Ensure restrooms are checked every hour by employees. So that any problems, such as a clogged toilet, can be identified early and remedied before they become more serious.
For a clean, clear plumbing system, regular inspections and hydro jetting should also be performed by a professional.
An unreliable toilet at a busy restaurant is the last thing you need during a busy evening. Keeping your restaurant’s bathrooms in good shape can reduce the chance of minor issues turning into major ones.
Perform regular maintenance on your plumbing system
Grease accounts for most of the long-term damage we see in drains that results from drain obstructions. Keeping your drains treated will keep your costs low. As a result of grease and oil adhering to debris, clogs will form quickly. When it hardens to the point where it becomes impossible to break down, you have to physically remove it, which is expensive.
It is best to maintain your drains in commercial kitchens by snaking them, water jetting at high traffic places once a month or four times a year, and treating them with a microbial solution. Plumbing problems can be prevented by keeping your system well maintained.
A bonus tip, make sure that you’ll train your staff members in dealing with the basic plumbing situations. They should also be informed about the best practices involving the plumbing system.
You won’t be able to monitor everything about your restaurant constantly, so you can’t be expecting to keep up with your plumbing. This is why you need all of your staff to be knowledgeable and well-trained.