Some of the most important parts of a building’s waste management system are often hidden out of sight and out of mind – like flammable waste traps. It’s convenient and hygienic to keep them concealed, but it also means they can go a long time – often too long – between cleanings, which can be dangerous for the building, the environment and you.
Since Yale Mechanical service technicians are skilled in clearing and cleaning these vital systems, we wanted to share our knowledge of how they work – and how we keep them working for you.
The primary purpose of a flammable waste trap system is to prevent industrial materials and hazardous chemicals found in parking garages and other structures from contaminating groundwater, which presents a danger to the environment and results in expensive cleanup. (By the way – in case you’re wondering what the difference is between a flammable waste trap and an inflammable waste trap: They’re the same thing!)
According to the State of Minnesota, garages larger than 1,000 square feet or any structure that stores more than four vehicles (like parking ramps, repair shops, gas stations and car washes) are required to implement a flammable waste trap system. Another common place you’ll find floor drains that lead to flammable waste trap systems are warehouses that use large area floor sweepers made to clear pathways of sand, debris and other waste. It all goes into one system.
That system is responsible for collecting and separating the liquids and solids that combine in a drainage system. Dirt, grime, rain, salt, sand, oil, snow, soap, gas – anything that flows down into a commercial floor drain has to be separated from waste water before it leaves a facility. From the floor drain, some of the waste enters the flammable waste trap, where its various elements stratify: Oils float on top of dirty water while sludge sinks below the mixture. Water is diverted to the sewer or holding tank, depending on the system.
Practices like using oil pans, cleaning up spills and limiting the amount of dirty water that enters the drain help minimize risk, but regular cleaning and maintenance ensure the best performance of your system without compromising environmental safety.
At best, an improperly maintained flammable waste trap system risks unsavory backup of waste materials into highly-trafficked areas – improper flow preventing waste materials from moving down the drain and out of sight. At worst, they pose a threat to local groundwater systems, introducing chemical substances that threaten its environmental viability. The onset of winter only increases these risks: Colder weather means snow brought in on tires, along with the salt and sand used on icy roads.
A common situation in which we’re called to maintain a flammable waste trap is immediately following the sale of a building. With some buildings sitting abandoned for months or years at a time before changing hands, the likelihood of outstanding issues grows during the turnover process.
Since they’re designed to be hidden from sight, normal use of your flammable waste trap can easily build to larger problems without inspection. A typical flammable waste trap inspection and cleaning from Yale Mechanical consists of few special steps:
The frequency of these cleanings varies from building to building. More highly-trafficked parking garages, for example, might need monthly inspections to maintain proper performance; others might safely go years without professional cleaning.
If you’ve never had your flammable waste traps professionally cleaned (or can’t remember the last time you did), it’s probably time to give them a closer look. Contact the service experts at Yale Mechanical to find out how we can ensure the safe, efficient operation of your flammable waste trap systems.