When you think of running your restaurant smoothly, you probably think about training your staff well and making sure your food orders come in on time. However, every restaurant owner is just one plumbing problem away from disaster, so you need to know the common plumbing problems that restaurants face and how to prevent them. This way, you won't have to decline customers on a Friday night because the kitchen has flooded.
1. Clogged Drains.
Your kitchen has at least one, if not several, industrial-sized sinks to hold dishes, cookware, and stove parts that are regularly cleaned. Sinks are usually the first of restaurant kitchen appliances to show signs of poor use, usually in the form of grease clogs. Your dish washers should be trained to never use the drain as a disposal for food, but also to NEVER pour grease, oil, salad dressing, animal fat, or any other form of lipid down the sink. Oils solidify on the cold pipes as they travel down, creating a sticky mess that grabs at food particles and traps them until the drain is fully clogged.
Every time you run the dishwasher, rinse off pans from warmers, or clean the oil in your deep fryer, small amounts of grease go down the drain. Therefore, despite your best efforts, clogged drains may still happen, You should have a back-up plan in place before you are unable to use your sinks and dishwashers, because running out of dishes means delays in serving your customers.
Stay on top of cleaning your grease traps. They do a good a job of keeping grease from moving further down the line, but they can get full or stop working effectively over time. Use biocleaners to flush the drains every couple of weeks. Unlike chemical cleaners, biocleaners have active enzymes that eat away at biofilm deposits.
Have regular drain cleaning scheduled with a plumbing company to keep the grease buildup under control. Some restaurants have drains that are connected to the bathroom drains as well, so running the sinks in the bathroom or even flushing the toilets results in an unsanitary mess when there's a clog. Keep an industrial plumbing snake in your storage closet and have a contracted emergency plumber on speed dial to solve clogs before they get worse.
2. Backed-up Bathrooms.
Customers are notoriously hard on public bathrooms, but they also judge the cleanliness of your restaurant by the bathrooms. In order to prevent plumbing problems from ruining your reputation for a clean, healthy establishment, be sure to
- provide sanitary disposal receptacles for feminine hygiene products. If you find out something has been flushed, call a plumber immediately, because hygiene products can cause the whole sewer line to become backed up.
- provide hand dryers instead of paper towels. Paper towels can be flushed down the toilet or the sink drain, or even stuffed down the floor drain. Avoid the headache and invest in paperless options right from the start.
- have employees check the bathrooms every hour or every few hours during slow times. A clogged toilet can get worse quickly, so catching problems right away is the key to preventing a major plumbing headache later.
- have parts that are frequently used serviced and replaced frequently. For example, if you notice the pull handle on a toilet is getting worn out or the toilet is not flushing as well, don't wait until it completely stops working to get it repaired or replaced.
3. Faulty Gas Lines.
If you use gas stoves or gas to power warmers or fryers, you need to make sure the gas supply lines are maintained. These lines are installed and repaired by a plumber, and they should be checked routinely for leaks. Gas leaks are notoriously dangerous, but they are even more devastating in a restaurant environment where heat sources for ignition are plentiful. As a rule of thumb, have your plumber give gas supply lines a once-over each time he or she visits for other issues.