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commercial kitchen plumbing

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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