We’ve all heard the phrase “Penny wise and pound foolish”, and no where does this apply more than in foodservice equipment. Buying the right equipment for your business is important, but once you have the new unit, dedicating time and resources on maintenance is critical. Both will save you time and money in the long run.
Scheduled maintenance will extend efficiency and the life of equipment and will thwart safety issues. Without careful upkeep, fires can be started, grease can back up sewers in entire neighborhoods and food becomes unsanitary.
Here are our top five tips for maintaining some of the most important equipment in the food service industry. Create a yearly calendar with each of these to stay on top of maintenance. As always, check with the manufacturer of your equipment to ensure you are properly maintaining your equipment.
- Keep out of a high heat environment.Refrigerators, by definition, remove heat from inside and blows it to the outside environment. If your refrigerator is in an area that has a high temperature, then it will run more, be less efficient and therefore cost more money.
- Check gaskets every 6 months to prevent ice build up inside the unit.
- Clean condensers at a minimum of every six months, and keep them away from grease if possible.
- If condensers are in a greasy area, clean them with a product called Blast Spray Coil Cleaner to remove grease.
- Allow for air circulation around the refrigerator.Refrigeration equipment works by giving off heat. For optimal efficiency and life, the unit needs clearance so air can circulate and allow the heat to escape.
- If you have Cottonwood seeds in your area in the spring, check air conditioning coils and clean out the seeds. This is one of the top service calls for equipment.
- Replace filters every six months. While you are at it, clean the Air Conditioning coils at the same time.
- Check exhaust fans once a year. Most fans have grease zerks that need to be greased occasionally in order to ensure fires will not be started.
- Heating should be checked in the fall before it gets cold.
- Lubricate the bearings so that the fan does not overheat and cause a fire.
- If your ice has an odd smell or flavor, wash the ice bin to get rid of orders that may be transferring to the ice. A simple nylon brush works. While you are cleaning use mold remover at the same time to ensure food safety. You can also use cleaning solution in the ice reservoir which will help sanitize it.
- Consider installing a charcoal filter in the water inlet line to get rid of impurities, which will affect water quality. These are typically changed 2x per year.
- Clean the air-cooled condenser. When the condenser is not properly cleaned on a regular basis, freeze times will increase, thereby decreasing the ice maker’s overall productivity.
- Ensure circulation for your Ice Machine. As in the refrigerator, the unit blows heat our to cool down, so making sure the air can flow out freely will decrease the time to freeze and save you money.
- Prevent limescale build up. A small residue can turn into large deposits over time, forcing parts like the water pump, inlet valve, and evaporator to work harder to produce ice. This can be a simple as scrubbing the evaporator with a nylon brush – anything else can damage nickel coatings. Interesting fact – the some areas of the Midwest have the largest lime beds in the world, so equipment here is especially susceptible to limescale build up.
- Open Top ranges need to have the grates and burner boiled in a grease solvent
- Clean clogged burner ports with stiff wire or ice pack
- After top grids have cooled, soak them every day in water and a good grease solvent. Then remove any encrusted food by scrapping it off
- If you adjust any burners and connections, be sure to have the gas company check your changes to ensure no fires.
- Don’t forget to remove any cooked food lodged under burners, lids, rings or plates.
- Put your facility on a water treatment plan, such as a softening system. And keep it maintained so that mineral deposits don’t build up and clog your equipment.
- Ice Machines and Steamers need to have separate filter systems. Constant use of water combined with a higher rate of evaporation during heat dissipation for steamers accelerates mineral buildup.
- Deposits can build up in all equipment, ruining them to the point of needing to replace the unit. Replace all water filters every six months to keep optimal performance and life expectancy.
Make it your priority to maintain equipment throughout the year – it will save you from being penny wise and pound foolish. Ultimately, your equipment will last longer, run more efficiently, and use less energy to run. What have you done at your restaurant the keeps your equipment in top working order?