Plumbing Line Riddled with Soft Water Resin  (When Resin causes your restaurant plumbing system to act up)

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Plumbing Line Riddled with Soft Water Resin (When Resin causes your restaurant plumbing system to act up)

Gravel in Softener Tank

Gravel in Softener Tank

When the filter beneath the gravel bed in a resin tank fails, which operates your soft water system,  it will allow resin to pass into the plumbing lines becoming  a nightmare to remove and could take weeks to fully flush out.  When resin passes through the softeners gravel bed and into the hot water plumbing lines it can restrict water flow and get caught up in mixing valves, boiler, aerators, pumps, filters and whatever else is in its’ path. Resin beads look like tinny pink salmon eggs or very small bebe sized balls. If resin is gummy or flat chlorine has most likely damaged the resin. Good resin should still have its’ round ball shape. But the real question is: If resin or sediment/sand enters your plumbing system, what steps do you take to flush them out of the drainage system in the restaurant? 

Steps to Purge Resin from the Plumbing System

1.    Validate whether the resin in the soft water tank has not passed through the gravel bed. If it has and the resin tank has not been repaired, bypass the soft water system until system/tank is repaired.
2.    Flush all hot water lines only throughout restaurant (it is extremely rare to have resin lead to the cold water lines).

a.    The first night of the incident have the boiler company drain the boiler tank until empty and drain out and stop any resin from making its way to the restaurant.
b.    Remove all aerators from faucets and flush.  First, turn on all the kitchen faucets without mixing valves. This will draw the resin out of the plumbing lines keeping most of it from getting clogged in faucets with mixing valves, pumps, filter, etc. Run Faucets for 20 minutes or longer if resin is still coming out. Sinks without mixing valves are: 

i.    Mop sinks (hot water only)
ii.    3-comp sinks (hot water only)
iii.    2-comp sink (hot water only) 
iv.    Bar 3-comp sink (hot water only)
v.    Bakery, Bar & Expo Dump Sinks (hot water only)

c.    Once the majority of the resin is believed to be removed from the system, then purge hand sinks with mixing valves (hot water only) making sure the aerators have been removed. The resin may get caught up in the mixing valve, if this happens a plumber will be needed to clear the mixing valve.  

3.    It can take days for resin to fully purge from the system, if this is the case repeat section #2.


Steps to Sand from the Plumbing System

1.    Validate the resin tank is in good order. A resin tank has gavel in the basin and sometimes the PVC pipe within the tank basin may become damaged and allow resin to pass through.
2.    If resin tank is not repaired, bypass the soft water system until tank is repaired.

a.    Note: If sand is coming from the cold water points of use only, including toilets and urinals, it is nearly impossible for gravel from the resin tank to make its way into the cold water system. 
b.    If sand is coming from points of use of the cold water lines only, focus energy on the main water line leading to the restaurant. 

3.    If sand is coming from the city:

Y Strainer

a.    Contact the city to research and solve the problem/breach in the system leading to the space.
b.    Contact a plumber to inspect proper operation of back flow and see if a ‘Y’ strainer can be installed in the water supply line prior the restaurant to capture any heavy sediment/sand/etc. 
c.    If water flow /pressure slows down then the back flow may be clogged and will need to be serviced.  

4.    Flush hot & cold water lines throughout restaurant. Typically sediment/sand won’t make its way to the hot water lines but if you have a problem with CrossOver (see our CrossOver blog) then you may see sediment/sand in the hot water lines. 

a.    The first night of the incident have the boiler company drain the boiler tank until empty and drain out any sand or sediment that may be in the tank. If you don’t see sediment/sand when hot water is running then skip this step.
b.    Remove all aerators from faucets and flush /turn on all the kitchen faucets without mixing valves first. This will draw the sand/sediment out of the plumbing lines keeping most of it from getting clogged in faucets with mixing valves, pumps, filter, etc. Run Faucets for 20 minutes or longer if sand/sediment is still coming out.    

Sinks without mixing valves are: 

i.    Mop sinks (hot & cold water together)
ii.    3-comp sinks (hot & cold water together)
iii.    2-comp sink (hot & cold water together)
iv.    Bar 3-comp sink (hot & cold water together)
v.    Bakery, Bar & Expo Dump Sinks (hot water only)


c.    Once the majority of the sand is believed to be removed from system then purge hand sinks with mixing valves making sure the aerators have been removed. Sand may get caught up in the mixing valve, if this happens a plumber will be needed to clear the mixing valve.  

5.    It can take days for sediment/sand to fully purge from the system, if this is the case repeat section #4. 

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Protecting Your Drains From FOG - Fats, Oil, Grease

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Protecting Your Drains From FOG - Fats, Oil, Grease

FOG (fats, oil and grease) are a real threat to your drain lines and grease trap if not managed properly. While you can control debris from getting into your drains you can’t stop FOG. FOG is a slow moving buildup of sludge in the drain lines clogging your plumbing systems while reducing the needed flow. The best practice to remove FOG requires the needed service of a plumber to clear the system in a way that keeps the restaurant running without disruption and damage to your drain lines

The following is a brief tutorial and guide to help manage your drainage systems:

Piping:

•      Cast iron is the most commonly used and is a magnet for FOG clinging to it. Cast iron is my least favorite as it relates to FOG. It needs to be serviced more frequently and takes more vigor and time by a plumber to properly service the drainage system by a plumber. 

•       ABS or PVC are better in repelling FOG from sticking to it and is much easier for a plumber to service. The down side with ABS/PVC is that it can break easy if a plumber uses a cable to clear a clogs rather than a hydro-jetter 

•      Stainless steel drainage systems are the best of both ABS/PVC and cast iron and fall in the middle as to FOG sticking to it.    

Grease Trap and Interceptors:
Grease traps and interceptors are one in the same and are often used interchangeably when speaking with vendors and those servicing them. Technically, however, interceptors are in ground traps usually 1000 gallons or greater while grease traps are smaller units staged directly under a dish machine when in-ground traps are not able to be installed.  When grease traps/interceptors are installed it is important to implement a proper program to combat the effects of FOG. If the FOG level in a grease trap/interceptors is allowed to thicken or sit too long, FOG can cause the baffles and internal plumbing lines to clog-up leading to over flowing traps or major clogs in a city line or worse. Check with your grease hauler on the proper frequency of service.  The following might be the starting point for your consideration for pumping the grease trap/interceptors.
1,000 to 2,500 gallon trap             Pump Monthly
2,500 to 3,500 gallon trap             Pump Every 3 Months
3,000 to 5,000 gallon trap             Pump Quarterly  
5,000 to 10,000 gallon trap           Pump 3 to 4 times a year

Traps that are 8,000 to 10,000 gallons are not pumped as frequently due to the volume it can hold; however, caution must be taken as less frequent servicing can lead to food and sediment build-up causing high levels of hydrogen sulfate (odors), build up on the traps baffles, clogging of internal drain lines or more than normal debris blocking the outlet lines. 

Enzymes:
Enzymes to control FOG levels is somewhat successful but very costly. In most cases an enzyme program can be 3 to 4 times more than hydro jetting.  Keep in mind Enzymes are living organisms and when chemicals, such a degreasers, are used to clean a restaurant the enzymes are killed defeating the purpose of their use.  When considering the yearly cost for the application of Enzymes, hydro jetting your drain lines is more effective

Recommendation to Control FOG:
First, determine and have the grease trap serviced at the proper frequency with the right vendor making sure the trap is thoroughly pumped with the baffles and walls scrapped or pressured washed. Second, set up a service where the drain lines are hydro jetted with 4000 psi once a year. High volume restaurants, if necessary, can be serviced twice a year.  Since it takes time for FOG to build up in a drain line, performing the service monthly is unnecessary. Remember too, when hydro jetting your lines, to also jet the exit line of the grease trap to the city or common shared line, whichever is first.  

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Plumbing System Crossover

Have you ever experienced a toilet filled with hot water, a dish machine with extreme calcium build up or cold water coming out of what should be the hot water line or vice versa?  If you have seen this or other oddities then you have witnessed crossover. Hot or cold water crossover occurs when one overpowers the other and takes over the water plumbing system. 

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Plumbing Line Odors

Odors cause customers and staff to cringe. Odors can be very hard to find. With differing pressures of air and water moving through the drains and rooms odors can shift direction or become intermittent making it extremely hard to find.  So the question is “How is an odor located and resolved”?

Ptrap odor

To solve odor problems they first need to be identified, labeled and understood in order to be solved.  It takes experience to know the difference between sewage, grease, musty, stagnate, mildew, throw-up and other types of odors. If you are not familiar with each smells you can still locate and make repairs. The following are hints to recognize the most common odors and make repairs.

clean out odor

Sewage: Sewage is a bitter smell and can be confused with a grease trap smell, or vice versa. Once you have been around these two odors enough you will be able to distinguish between them. Sewage smells come from drain lines that release sewage gas into a restaurant or room. The following are areas to inspect to determine the source of a sewage leak:

studor vent odor
  • Inspect all floor sinks & drains making sure they have standing water in the P-Trap. P-traps are designed to hold water making a “water seal” which blocks odors and bugs from passing through. When a P-Trap is broken it will leak and lose its water in the trap allowing gases/odors and/or bugs to pass through. If this happens the P-trap will need to be replaced.  If a P-trap is not used for a long period of time the water seal will evaporate, the easy solution hear is to fill the p-trap back up with water.
  • Inspect all cleanouts. Cleanouts have service plug screwed into the drainage pipe under the clean out cover. The plug needs to be without flaw/holes preventing gases to exit. If the plug is damaged even the smallest blemish will cause a significant odor
  • Inspect wax rings on all toilets as they can emit odors when not seated properly.
  • Inspect above ceiling line for any opened/abandon vent pipes. Vent pipes or cracked drainage pipes will cause odors to escape.
  • Validate vents lines on roof are higher than the parapet wall to allow odors to be swept away with the breeze/wind. HVAC units near vent pipes can pull odors into the building. A solution for this will be to install a charcoal filters on the roof vent pipe.

If you are having a hard time locating a sewage odor a plumber can perform a smoke test to locate any breaks in plumbing and/or vent line system. Make sure when doing a smoke test the plumber uses a high powered smoke machine and not a smoke bomb (large amount of smoke is needed). It is also best to perform a smoke test at night or early morning with low light & flashlights. The lower the light the better to see the white smoke emerge. A laser light/beam can be very helpful reflecting and identifying smoke

Grease Trap Odor: Many confuse a grease trap odor with sewage even though they are 2 different odors: The following are hints to locate a grease trap odor and stop it.

smoke test plumbing odor
  • Inspect the cleanouts on the inlet and outlet of the in ground grease trap. A cleanout will have a service plug screwed into the drainage pipe below the finished cover. Validate the service plugs are without flaw/holes and are secured in place preventing odors from exiting. If the plug is damaged even the smallest blemish will cause a significant odor
  • Inspect grease trap covers validating they have no holes in the metal trap lid that can let odors out. The trap lid should say “interceptor”. If the trap lid still emits gas applying a thin coat of silicone around the trap lid helps stop gases from exiting through the perimeter. Another option would be to install a “trap Hat”. A “Trap Hat” is a giant disk that slips under the trap lid, like an oversized clean out service plug, to keep odors from rising.
  • Validate that the grease trap rings that hold the trap lids in place are securely mounted to the grease trap basin with not cracks or breaks. Grease traps that are located in the planters/dirt sometimes are set in a hurry and not sealed tightly to the trap basin allowing odors to seep out.

Indoor Odors: In door orders can be a mixture of grease trap gas, sewage gas, mildew, throw-up, stagnant water smell or more: While already addressed how to locate grease and sewage odors, let’s look at some other nuisance odors:

vent outdoors.jpg
  • Throw-up Odor: A throw up odor can be coming from damaged syrup lines that have leaked and dried up. The solution is to fix the leak and clean up the syrup, which typically found in the underground soda chase.
  • Stagnant Odor:  Stagnant odor can be from
  1. Water sitting under damaged and delaminated tile,
  2. Between the cove base tile and wall,
  3. Plumbing line leaking within a wall or cabinet,
  4. Soda/beer chase line filled with water
  • Mildew Odor: Mildew odor is relatively easy to find as it is also visual at the area the odor is smelled. Mildew can be caused by mold developing in a wall or cabinet where water can slowly collect.

Outdoor Odors: Outdoor orders can be grease line gas, natural gas or stagnant odors. While we already addressed how to locate grease odors, let’s look at some other nuisance odors:

  • Natural Gas: Natural gas can be from in ground patio heaters that have rusted and allowing natural gas to escape. This will require immediate repair by a plumber.
  • Stagnant Odor: Patio drains typically do not have p-traps. This is due to the risk of having water freeze in the trap causing the P-trap to break leading to costly repairs.  With the patio drains not having p-traps debris and sludge can get caught in the pipe causing the odor to escape into the patio. In addition the drain line will be tied to a mainline and that odor can also escape into the patio. A solution for patio drains is to install a one-way valve plug. Be careful when using these as they can be pushed further into the drain causing future blockage and problems. It is not recommended using the one way valves in a floor sink or drain for this exact reason; however, use in a patio drain is low risk.

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How Drains Get Clogged

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How Drains Get Clogged

Preventing drain clogs are easy and can save you thousands a year if you protect them and provide a suitable Preventative Maintenance Service

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.  

Caution

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!

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Fruit Flies In Your Commercial Kitchen?

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Fruit Flies In Your Commercial Kitchen?

Once You Understand What Small Fly You Have, The Solution Is Easy!

Drain Fly / "Clogmia Albipunctata"

Overview

These small flies are found in floor drains and floor sinks, especially when P‐Traps are broken. These flies are not commonly found in restaurants.

Prevention

“Prevention is best accomplished by removing food sources such as hair clogs in drains”…Wikipedia. If you have these drain flies in your restaurant use a mixture of ½ Chlorinated
liquid sanitizer ½ H20 to clean your drains along with a bristle brush. Special products such as liquids and drain inserts may work but cleaning the drains and making sure the P‐trap has standing water to hold back odors, bugs and drain flies will solve the problem. A P‐Trap that does not hold water means you have a broken pipe.

Red Eye Fly / "Drosophila Melanogaster"

Overview

This is the most common small fly in restaurants that are rarely found in floor drains or floor sinks. The Red Eye Fly is drawn to organic matter, alcohol, soda, fruit or anything sticking.

Prevention

Prevention is achieved by cleaning surfaces that are sticky with particular focus to such locations as bars, soda stations and dry storage rooms. Use as mixture of
½ Chlorinated liquid sanitizer and ½ H20 to kill fruit fly eggs and stop the cycle.  

Red Eye Fruit Flies infest establishments where fruit, soda, alcohol and organic matter are found . The Red Eye Fly is the MOST common fruit fly found in restaurants. Removal of an infestation can be difficult as larvae may continue to hatch (up to 400 eggs) from a single adult fly. 

The Red Eye Fruit Fly typically reproduces in indirect drain lines (the drains that lead to from the soda machine or counter tops to a floor sink), fruit and moist areas. Typically these flies do not dwell or reproduce in floor sinks drains or floor drains due to high water flow and chemical discharge used from cleaning equipment making it undesirable for this fly.

Evidence can often be found where these flies are hanging out by the droppings they leave on ceiling tiles and walls (black specs). Removing the smell of organic matter that these flies are drawn to will stop continued infestation. Once a deep cleaning is performed a pest company may be needed to “knock down” the adult population that are active. (A “knock down” is done with a safe fogging chemical that fills the room killing these flies. While this fog treatment will kill the fruit flies that are on walls, ceilings or airborne, it will not kill the eggs nor take away the need for deep cleaning).

Helpful Hints

Find out what kind of fly you have. Believe it or not, when shining a flashlight on these fruit flies you will see its red eyes. Buying products such as chemical disks, liquids, and drain inserts (drain inserts are designed for masking an odor of a failed p-trap) will prove to be ineffective. Experimenting with these varied products to kill the red eye flies will find that the infestation has not been eliminated. Ask yourself. “If floor drains or floor sink drains are the source, why don’t all drains in restaurants have the problem?” You may have heard about sticking cellophane over the drain hole to catch flies. Try it, you be shock to find the drains not the issue! If you do catch any small fly it will most likely be the “Drain Fly” not the “Red Eye Fly.”

What to Clean
 Indirect Drain Lines
(Counter top drains leading to floor sinks)
 Beer Scupper & Bar Gun Drains
 Sticky Alcoholic Bottles /Bottle Tops
 Counter Top Surfaces
 Soda Towers & Their Drains
 Place Fruit In Sealed Lexan Containers
 Foam in Soda Chase Is Dry
 Clean Walls & Ceilings
 Sticky Soda Lines
 Under Cabinets & Within Cubbies
What to Repair
 Clean & Caulk Cabinet Seems
(where organic matter can build up)
 Recessed Grout & Broken Tile
 Remove Problems of Standing H20

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