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Trench Drain vs. Slot Drain: Which is Better for FoodSafety?

When considering drainage options for your food processing or beverage production facility, sanitation should be your top priority. Any amount of bacterial build-up is going to result in a contaminated production floor, contaminated product, and failed inspections.

If you have the choice between a trench drain or a slot drain, you first have to consider the specific use cases for each and how that might affect your facility.

Here’s how to pick between a trench drain system and a slot drain system (hint: slot drains are always better when sanitation is involved!).

What is a trench drain?

A trench drain is a floor drain that generally consists of a trough or channel-style body with a slotted grate that sits on top to prevent people and large solids from entering the drainage system.

These channels are sloped and flow toward a catch basin, which usually has a strainer to catch any larger solid. The catch basin collects the wastewater and other liquid materials and transports them to the building’s sewer, collection pit, or other wastewater disposal system.

Trench drains are set into the flooring of a facility and provide a wide opening to allow for high flow rates without overflowing. Trench drains can be U-shaped, V-shaped, or square, depending on the needs of the facility and space constraints.

Rounded-bottom trench drains are recommended in food facilities, as they have no corners to harbor bacteria and offer the best flow for solids.

What is a slot drain?

All slot drains are actually trench drains with one main difference: the opening in your production floor is drastically smaller — it’s a slot. Encased in the surrounding floor, the drain channel is usually shaped like a teardrop or some variation, with the top coming close together to form the “throat” of the drain.

This makes it far more durable, while preventing blockages and standing water within the drain channel.

Like a traditional trench drain, a slot drain is sloped toward a catch basin, which then transports the wastewater to be disposed of or reused.

Which is better?

There is no clean-cut answer when it comes to which is actually better for your food production facility, because the fact is that you could use both options, depending on the needs of the area of your operation.

Drain suitability all comes down to use case. What are the hygiene risks that need to be mitigated in that area? What sort of traffic does the area handle on a daily basis? What type of materials are being drained? What drainage capacity is required?

Answering these questions will help you evaluate which type of drain you need for that area.

When to use a trench drain

Grated trench drains are best used in facilities that require high-capacity drainage or need to drain a lot of solid materials. The larger openings in the grates, as well as the wide mouth of the drain channel, allow for high volumes to pass through without clogging the channel, helping to prevent standing water, odors, and bacteria.

Trench drains should also be reserved for areas of low to medium food safety risks. These can include loading areas, finished product storage, packaging, and other areas where risk of contamination is minimal.

Trench drain pros:

  1. Wide channel prevents clogs and standing water

  2. High flow capacity prevents backflow and spills

  3. Best way to drain solid materials

  4. Rounded-bottom options prevent bacterial build-up in the drain channel

    Trench drain cons:

    1. Grates create places where bacteria can harbor, risking contamination and odors

    2. Cleaning is more difficult and time-consuming due to heavy grates

    3. Heavy forklifts and other equipment can damage the grates

    4. High flow rates into the drain can result in splashing, causing contamination

    5. The wider opening, though covered by a grate, can create a tripping hazard

      Whether or not a trench drain is right for your facility is more a matter of use than of the drain itself. At FoodSafe Drains, we prefer to take a more holistic approach to your facility, which is why we explore all of your options to ensure the efficiency, safety, and hygiene of your facility.

      When to use a slot drain

      Slot drains are quite often the best option, but, like trench drains, use matters. Slot drains should be used in the areas of your facility that are most at risk of food safety hazards such as bacteria, other pathogens, odors, and pests.

      Since they’re made from corrosion-resistant stainless steel, you can use caustics and other cleaners to thoroughly clean the system without damaging the drains themselves. Slot drains also eliminate the worry of bent and broken grate covers, thanks to a reinforced angle in several models that can stand up to heavy forklift traffic (up to Load Class E).

      Slot drain pros:

      1. Pre-sloped channel to eliminate standing water

      2. Radius-edge bottoms eliminate corners where bacteria can grow

      3. Drastically reduces cleaning time thanks to clean-in-place options and custom cleaning tools

      4. Won’t clog with large solid materials, which can’t slip through the slot

      5. Corrosion-, chemical-, and bacteria-resistant stainless steel construction

      6. Clean-in-place (CIP) options, including Flush-Flo hook-up

      Slot drain cons:

      1. Not ideal for facilities that drain a lot of solid materials

      2. Sight lines aren’t as open as a trench drain

      3. Total access to the drain channel is somewhat difficult

      Slot drains are the ideal alternative to traditional trench drains, especially since they only require single-sloped flooring. This provides more flexibility when it comes to the layout of your food processing facility, and is more ergonomically beneficial to your workers.

      The right choice for your food production facility

      While slot drains are the most hygienic drainage option for you busy food production or food processing operation, whether you should choose a traditional trench drain or slot drain system depends on the area of your facility.

      Either way, leave failed inspections, product recalls, and unsafe conditions behind; contact our drainage experts today or download our product guide so that we can help you find the best drainage solution for your facility.

      Simple sanitation starts here

      FSD 3 Get Our Product Guide