23 / Feb / 24

The Value of Keeping Restaurant Equipment Well-Maintained

In this blog, I will provide an explanation of how to maintan equipment and why it's important piece of retaurant operatrions. In this article, you will learn:  

  • Maintenance and care and their benefits
  • Preventive Care Plan
  • Common mistakes to avoid

The Value of Keeping Restaurant Equipment Well-Maintained

Properly caring for restaurant equipment comes with a wealth of advantages. Here are some reasons you should craft a maintenance plan:  

Budget-Friendly Solutions: Let's face it, restaurant equipment is expensive, and so are serious repairs that happen out of warranty.

Having a regular service provider to perform routine check-ups has proven to save restauranteurs money over time. A certified technician can spot small damages and hiccups and quickly address them, before they worsen.  

Understandably, a routine service provider is yet another bill, but higher emergency service call bills could potentially be avoided, or worse, total loss. The cost of heavily damaged equipment parts is far more expensive than routine maintenance — not to mention the higher energy bills.


Supports Longer Equipment Use: Any piece of equipment used heavily will endure wear and tear. It is not a matter of if, more when. Regularly maintaining your equipment ensures there's no extra damage on top of the normal depreciation of the gear. Premature breakdowns can be avoided simply by having your cooking equipment checked on a regular basis. Hence, the equipment life span is sustained and, in some cases, increased because the natural effects of depreciation are drastically decreased. As mentioned, finding minor damages and fixing them quickly deters more significant and hazardous issues and extends equipment life.      

Increased Resale Value of the Equipment: As a Culinary Entrepreneur, there will come a time when you need to upgrade an old piece of equipment for a newer, more efficient model. Reselling a well-cared-for piece of equipment will yield a higher return compared to a faultier piece of equipment. Thus lessening the cost of that new piece of kitchen gear.

Supports Consistent Food Quality: If the chef's tools are not up to par, it dramatically affects the food quality. And if left unattended, the quality of your food will deteriorate; even a slight change in quality could send partons elsewhere. Yet, if your equipment is well-maintained, your chef can deliver quality dishes.

Supports Keeping Service Swift: Quality is not the only factor in your kitchen; speed also affects your operations. As equipment ages, if not cared for properly, it can lead to slower cooking time and meal service back-ups, from longer wait times to flustrated servers, not to mention hungry customers.

To avert this from occurring, you must have a good

regular maintenance plan on your equipment to keep your chef's tools functioning at their best.

Decreases Fire Safety Risks: Common fire starters in kitchens stem from grease buildup, rusted metal surfaces, and the biggest contributor, gas leaks. Regular maintenance plans are crucial to prevent fires before they start and should not be pushed to the wayside.

Ensures Sanitary Conditions:

Wrapping up maintaining healthy restaurant equipment is not optional, it's mandatory. The FDA has laid out strict guidelines regarding your establishment's sanitary conditions. This is not limited to just storage and house conditions; it also includes the cleanliness of your cooking equipment. Plus, the FDA encourages regular cleanups and kitchen equipment maintenance.

Preventive Care Plan:

Now, let's dive into how to take care of your restaurant's equipment with this preventive care plan in four segments: daily, weekly, quarterly, and annual tasks. Referring to the owner's manual before starting any of the tasks mentioned is important!

Walk-In Freezer Maintenance

Make sure not to overcrowd your walk-in and keep the aisles clear to ensure employees can move around easily. To save energy and prevent your walk-in freezers and coolers' compressors from overworking, it's crucial to turn off the interior lights. Leaving lights on can warm up the space, forcing the unit to work harder to maintain the desired temperature. It's important to refer to your equipment's manual for specific instructions while following the preventative care plan steps.

Daily Tasks:

  • Verify that the temperature settings are correct. For commercial freezers, this means maintaining temperatures at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure food is stored properly.
  • Make sure to turn off all interior lights when closing.
  • Keep aisles free from obstructions and avoid overfilling the freezer.
  • Address spills immediately by cleaning them up and sweeping the floor.

Weekly Responsibilities:

  • Clean and examine the door gaskets for any signs of wear.
  • Clean the interior surfaces and shelves.
  • Ensure that hinges and doors are properly aligned.
  • Check the door sweep for any tears or damage and address if necessary.

Quarterly Checklist:

  • Review refrigerant levels to ensure they are adequate.
  • Assess the compressor's functionality to ensure it's operating efficiently.
  • Make sure thermometers are accurate by calibrating them.
  • Clean the fan blades to maintain airflow.
  • Maintain the evaporator coils and condenser by cleaning them.
  • Examine door panels and walls for any loose caulking and reseal if needed.

Annual Maintenance:

  • Engage an electrician to inspect the electrical connections for safety and efficiency.
  • Check and clean the freezer's drain lines to prevent blockages and ensure proper drainage.


Refrigerator Preservation:

Reach-in coolers are important for the day-to-day operations of your restaurant. To keep them running at there best for a long time, it's necessary to maintain them properly. You may need to contact a certified professional for the more technical maintenance tasks.

Daily Tasks:

  • Ensure the temperature is maintained at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  • Clean the interior surfaces and shelves.
  • Wipe the door gasket clean.

Monthly Duties:

  • Check the gaskets for any signs of tears or damage.
  • Examine the compressor for any issues.
  • Clean the fan blades to ensure good airflow.
  • Clean the evaporator coils and condenser to maintain efficiency.

Quarterly Responsibilities:

  • Test the temperature controls to ensure they are working correctly.
  • Verify the refrigerant levels to make sure they are sufficient.


Cooktop and Flat Grill Upkeep

Cleaning your range top and flat top griddle daily helps manage grease buildup and ensures your food tastes its best. Old, lingering grease can easily spoil the flavor of your dishes.

Daily Tasks:

  • Season the cooking surfaces if needed.
  • Empty and clean the grease cup or waste drawer.
  • Clean the charbroiler grates and the flat top griddle plate.

Monthly Duties:

  • Check and adjust the thermostat for accuracy.

Quarterly Responsibilities:

  • Replace any worn controls or knobs.
  • Take a good look at the machine for any issues.
  • Check the cooking surface for any cracks or damage.

Fryer Maintenance

Maintaining your deep fryer regularly is key to enhancing the flavor of your dishes. Sticking to a schedule for filtering and changing the oil is crucial for ensuring your fried foods are crispy, fresh, and free from unwanted flavor transfer. Remember, these general tips need adjustments based on your fryer's usage frequency and the daily volume of fried food you serve.

Daily Tasks:

  • Wash the fryer baskets thoroughly.
  • Clean the outside of the fryer.
  • Filter the fryer oil to remove debris.

Weekly Routine:

  • Change the oil in the fry filter.

Monthly Checklist:

  • Pull the fryer away from the wall to clean the area around it.
  • Check the pilot light to ensure it's functioning properly.
  • Examine the o-rings and connections to the drain pan for any issues.
  • Clean out the air vents and the blower to ensure proper airflow.

Quarterly Maintenance:

  • Perform a deep clean of the fryer, including boiling it out to remove any built-up residue.

Combi Oven Maintenance

Your combi oven relies on steam for cooking, so regular de-liming is necessary to prevent scale buildup. Luckily, many modern combi ovens have an automatic cleaning feature that simplifies this process with just a button press. Whenever your combi oven signals it's time for a clean, it's best to do it promptly. For more specific instructions on how to carry out the cleaning cycles your combi oven needs, refer to your owner's manual.

Daily Tasks:

  • Disinfect the food probe to ensure it's germ-free.
  • Clean the door gasket to maintain a good seal.
  • Take out and clean the drip tray to prevent buildup.
  • Wash the interior and racks to keep them hygienic.

Monthly Responsibilities:

  • De-lime the steam generator to prevent scale.
  • Take out and clean the air filters to ensure good airflow.
  • Check the drain lines for any blockages or issues.
  • Examine the door gasket for any tears or damage.
  • Inspect the door hinges for wear or damage.

Annual Maintenance:

  • Verify and adjust the thermostat to ensure accurate temperature control.

Convection Oven Maintenance

Convection ovens don't need much maintenance — they do well with regular cleaning. Daily wiping of grease helps stop buildup before it becomes problematic. It's important to use only cleaners approved for use with your oven, and always follow the guidelines in your manual.

Daily Tasks:

  • Clean the door gasket to ensure a tight seal.
  • Wash the inside of the oven and the racks to keep them hygienic.
  • Take out and clean the drip tray to prevent clogs.

Monthly Duties:

  • Inspect and clean the air intake vent for optimal airflow.
  • Clean the fan blade and its housing for efficient operation.
  • Examine and clean the flue to ensure proper venting.
  • Look over the door gasket for any signs of tears.
  • Check the door hinges for any damage or wear.

Annual Maintenance:

  • Verify and adjust the thermostat for accurate temperature settings

Dishwasher Upkeep

Keeping your commercial dishwasher in good condition is easier when you train your staff to rinse off food scraps from dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. This keeps the inside cleaner and prevents grease from sticking to clean dishes, making daily cleaning less of a chore. You won't have to empty the filter or scrap basket as often. It's also a good idea to leave the dishwasher open at night for air drying, which helps to stop bacteria from growing.

Daily Tasks:

  • Make sure there's enough sanitizer, rinse aid, and detergent.
  • Clear out the scrap basket.
  • Look for any clogs in the rinse arm nozzles.
  • Leave the dishwasher door open overnight to let it air dry after you close up.

Weekly Responsibilities:

  • Check that the rinse pressure and water temperature are correct.
  • Remove lime scale from the interior.
  • Ensure the drain lines are not blocked.

Annual Maintenance:

  • Arrange for a certified technician to conduct a thorough inspection.

Stand Mixer Maintenance

Before cleaning your mixer, always disconnect it from the power source to prevent any accidents. Focus on cleaning the spots where the batter tends to dry and splatter, such as the gear shaft and the attachment hub. After washing, let the detachable parts air dry or dry them by hand before putting the mixer back together.

Daily Tasks:

  • Wash and dry the mixer attachments, shield, and bowl thoroughly.
  • Clean the shaft, motorhead, and attachment hub with care.
  • Clear out any debris from the air vents to ensure proper airflow.
  • Wipe the entire mixer body and gently dry it using a soft towel.

Monthly Duties:

  • Inspect the lubricant levels and top up if necessary to keep the mixer running smoothly.

Ice Machine Maintenance

Cleaning your ice machine might not be at the top of your priorities, but overlooking it could result in failing a health inspection. Remember, ice is classified as food, so any bin, scoop, or surface that comes into contact with ice must be treated as a surface that touches food.

Daily Tasks:

  • Confirm that the ice maker is functioning correctly and making ice.
  • Look over the drain pipes to make sure they're free from any blockages.
  • Verify that the temperature settings are accurate.

Weekly Duties:

  • Clean the exterior of the ice machine.

Semi-Annual Maintenance:

  • Clean the condenser to ensure efficient operation.
  • Change the water filtration cartridges to maintain water quality.
  • Disinfect the interior bin to keep ice safe for consumption.
  • Clean or change the air filters to ensure good airflow.


Typical Maintenance Oversights for Equipment

Here's a list of frequent errors to steer clear of while maintaining your restaurant's equipment.

Disregarding proper care instructions

Your owner's manual is designed to help you, so it's best to read it carefully to avoid unintentionally damaging your machines by making a mistake.

Failing to submit warranty information before the eligibility expires

Often, a warranty remains valid only if you fill out and return the warranty card within a certain period. However, many overlook this step and forfeit the warranty benefits, leading to higher repair costs.

Failing to educate your team on the right way to clean equipment

Training employees on the use of the equipment is the norm, but most fail to train on proper cleaning procedures.

Neglecting to set up or follow a regular cleaning routine

Equipment should be wiped down daily, but deep cleaning needs to be planned. The cleaning schedule should consider the maintenance needs of each piece of equipment and be constant.

Attempting DIY repairs on restaurant equipment

DIY or "chuck in a truck" fixes when something is broken or malfunctioning are never good options. More often than not, this is a recipe for more expensive damage to your equipment — not to mention a voided warranty. It is best to play it safe and hire a certified technician for your repair needs.

Using improper chemicals and cleaning supplies

Cleaners are not universal — different equipment may react differently to various chemicals. One may make a piece of equipment bright and shiny while it may corrode another. It is important to train your staff on the proper cleaning agents to use on different pieces of equipment; it may be good practice to place a sign of some sort to stop the use of improper chemicals on equipment, especially stainless.

Take Steps to Start Preventive Maintenance Today

While kitchen or back-of-house staff can handle many preventive maintenance tasks, it's important to have a qualified service technician check them annually. If you're unsure about performing a task and the owner's manual isn't clear, it's better to hire a professional to avoid potential damage to your equipment. In the end, investing in preventive maintenance will save you money by reducing the risk of expensive emergency repairs and extending the life of your equipment.


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