Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Prevent Odors in My Drains or Toilet?

Odors occur when the traps dry up, so pour water down drains that emit odor to refill the trap and lock out the odor. Flush toilets regularly to help prevent odor buildup and turn on the bathroom fan when using the toilet to help ventilate the room and blow out the odor.

What causes hot water heaters to not work properly?

Hot water heaters are typically good for 10 years or more, so older units in particular will need a professional inspection to assess the situation and help you review your options. Replacement is the easiest solution in most of these cases, especially given the energy efficiency of modern systems. However, in some others, a broken heating element or sensor can also be a problem.

What does the term “Clean-Out” mean?

Clean-out is a pipe opening, connected to your sewer line for access to clean the piping with the proper sewer machine cable. They may be located in the ground, in a wall, or under a counter.

What is a pipeline inspection?

A pipeline inspection is commonly used to verify the condition of a pipe and properly diagnose on ongoing issue with a sewer system. The inspection is performed with a sewer camera and enables the plumber to see and make a video recording any cracks, leaks, or obstructions within a pipe.

What is a Backflow Preventer Assembly?

A Backflow Preventer Assembly is an approved device, which uses check valves within the device to prevent contamination of the water system, and prevents water from reversing the direction it flows in

When do I need to have my backflow assemblies tested?

Local ordinances require that each backflow prevention assembly be tested and certified upon installation. It is mandatory to be tested and certified annually, thereafter by a licensed cross-connection control device inspector. Backflow prevention devices are commonly found on fire sprinkler systems, domestic water supplies, irrigation systems, dental equipment, boiler systems, and more.

What causes a water main break?

Water main breaks usually result from external corrosion of the pipe. Extreme weather changes can cause the ground to swell and contract, placing excessive pressure on the water mains, causing any weakened pipe to break.

What causes exterior light fixtures burn out so often?
  • Use of non-brand named bulbs.
  • Larger wattage bulbs, which cause excessive heat build-up shorting the life of the bulb.
  • Power Surges.
What can cause fluorescent lights to flicker and cycle on and off?

Flickering may indicate impending bulb failure, minor power fluctuation, and/or improperly installed bulbs. Cycling on and off is usually a clear indication of ballast and/or bulb failure. It is recommended when replacing a ballast to replace bulbs as well.

Why do fuses blow and why does my circuit breaker trip?

Except in the case of ground fault interrupters, which are susceptible to moisture and/or weather conditions, fuses and circuit breakers should not trip. Check to see if some type of plugged in appliance is causing the problem.

What should be done once a breaker has tripped?

Disconnect any additional devices that may have caused the breaker to overload and trip. Breakers are mechanical devices and must be turned off before turning back on. If this fails to reset the breaker, there may be a more serious problem.

Troubleshooting non-working switches and receptacles.

The outlet may not be on a switch. GFCI outlets should be reset with the circuit breaker.

What is a GFCI device or breaker?

GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. This device protects one from electrical shock. When it senses the slightest increase in resistance resulting from ground fault, it turns off to protect you.

What is the difference between a breaker panel and an old fuse panel?

Both devices, either breaker or fuse, are designed to trip in the event of an electrical overload, i.e. 20Amps of electrical load on a 15Amp circuit would cause a trip. The only difference is that a breaker is mechanical and may be reset. Whereas, a fuse is one time only and must be replaced.

What is a Grease Trap?

A grease trap or grease interceptor is a receptacle located between the restaurant drain lines and the sanitary sewer lines that allows for the separation and collection of fats, oils and greases (FOG) from the used water, preventing such materials from entering the municipal sewer system.

Why do I have to have a grease trap?

FOG wreaks all kinds of havoc on municipal wastewater systems, which is why local governments require commercial kitchens to have a grease trap installed. Most municipalities will have a minimum amount of FOG that is acceptable in the water leaving an establishment. IF these minimums are exceeded, fines can be imposed.

How do grease traps work?

Grease traps slow down the flow of water coming from drains, allowing the water/grease time to cool. This cooling causes the grease to coagulate and float to the top, while other, heavier solids, fall to the bottom of the trap. The remaining water is free to pass through on to the city sewer lines.

How do I maintain my grease trap?

Proper grease trap maintenance is very crucial in order to have an efficiently operating grease trap. Many problems can occur if the levels of collected FOG and solids are not monitored. Problems such as drain line blockages and back-ups, foul odors and even worse, too much FOG being deposited into the city sewer lines, can occur and lead to big fines.

Depending on the size, there are different ways of cleaning the grease trap. Many state and local governments have ordinances requiring that a grease trap be pumped out every so often, so it is important to first check with local government to find out this particular criteria. However, aside from any mandatory pump-outs that may be required, there are other methods of cleaning a grease trap that should be considered.

Many restaurants/kitchens that have smaller grease traps often have their maintenance staff handle any grease trap maintenance. This could typically involve manually shoveling and vacuuming out the accumulated FOG and solids and disposing with the solid waste. It is important that if this is the step taken, any liquid waste should be absorbed by an absorbent, like kitty litter, to ensure that the waste is picked up.

Most restaurants with larger grease traps will typically employ the services of a professional recycler/hauler to pump-out and maintain the grease trap when the FOG accumulation gets too high.

What about Bio-Treatment?

Many companies market biological additives that claim to treat FOG and reduce maintenance costs. Some products contain micro-organisms which are supposed to consume the FOG when added to floor drains, grease traps or interceptors. While suitable for use to keep under-floor drain lines clear, the use of these products in grease traps and interceptors can result in pass-through and interfere with normal operation of the grease abatement device. If City inspectors find a problem, the food service/restaurant owner will be liable, not the bio-additive vendor.

When faced with a slow or clogged sink, don’t run hot water, detergents or degreasers down the drain. This only moves a FOG clog farther downstream, affecting more of your neighbors. It also keeps your grease trap or interceptor from operating effectively. Regular maintenance and physical or mechanical cleaning are the required best management practice.

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