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The core tenet of a successful restaurant is efficiency, which is best achieved through a preventative maintenance program. Management staff often leave equipment maintenance on the back burner, only to be addressed when absolutely necessary. 

However, a proactive maintenance program that addresses the needs of equipment before they become a problem is essential to having a well-run kitchen. Plus, it will save you some cash – research by the National Restaurant Association reports that proactive equipment maintenance is the key to significant savings.

Preventive maintenance is the process of cleaning, maintaining, and planning service in an effort to reduce breakdowns and unnecessary maintenance. When enacting a preventive maintenance program, it is useful to know what equipment has the highest maintenance needs to keep your restaurant performing at its best.

Here is a comprehensive explanation of how to maintain equipment and why it’s an important piece of restaurant operations. In this article, you will learn:

  • The benefits of proper equipment care and maintenance 
  • A preventative equipment maintenance checklist 
  • Common mistakes when maintaining equipment to be aware of
7 benefits of proper restaurant equipment maintenance

The Benefits of Proper Restaurant Equipment Care and Maintenance

Maintaining restaurant equipment comes with a plethora of advantages. Here are some of the most significant reasons you should create a maintenance plan: 

1. Cost-Effectiveness

Restaurant equipment is expensive, and so are the more serious repairs that occur out of warranty. Regular maintenance and check-ups prove to save restauranteurs money in the long run. Minor damages and issues can be quickly spotted and dealt with before they get worse. 

While standard maintenance cost is yet another added bill, even higher bills of repairing equipment are avoided. The cost of repairing an extremely damaged piece of equipment is far more than regularly maintaining equipment. Additionally, poorly maintained equipment uses more energy, which will increase your energy bills. 

2. Increases The Life of the Equipment

Normal wear and tear of equipment are given when operating a busy restaurant. Regular maintenance makes sure that there’s no extra damage on top of the anticipated depreciation of the machine. Checking on your machines regularly means you avoid their premature breakdowns. 

Therefore, the life of the equipment is sustained and often increased because the effects of normal depreciation are vastly reduced. Like we mentioned before, spotting minor damages and getting them fixed right away averts more significant and hazardous issues and increases equipment life. 

3. Bigger Resale Value On The Machine Itself

As a restauranteur, you’ll need to swap out old equipment for newer models over the years. A well-maintained piece of equipment will fetch a better price when reselling, compared to a faultier piece of machinery. This can impact how costly the net effect of the next piece of equipment will be. 

4. Helps In Maintaining The Food Quality

The condition of your equipment directly impacts the condition of your food. Even if you have the best chefs cooking in your kitchen, there’s only so much they can do if the tools they’re using aren’t up to snuff. The quality of the food you’re serving will deteriorate, even if it’s just slightly. However, if your equipment is well-maintain, it will be able to perform better for your chef and they will be able to create the best dishes possible. 

5. Help In Sustaining The Speed Of Operations 

Equipment doesn’t just impact food quality, it affects the speed of operations in your kitchen. Depreciated equipment means slower preparation time and more time-consuming work in general, which leads to lags when cooking and serving food. This means you’ll lose sales and customers. To prevent this from happening, you must ensure that all equipment that you have are in their best condition, which is achieved only through, you guessed it – regular maintenance. 

6. Reduces Fire Hazard

The most common cause of fires in restaurant kitchens is an equipment breakdown. Regular maintenance of kitchen equipment eliminates the risk of fire hazards. 

7. It’s Healthy And Hygienic

Finally, it’s simply a healthy habit to maintain restaurant equipment. Proper maintenance includes regular sanitization, which ensures that the food you serve to customers isn’t compromised. Plus, health codes laid out by the FDA encourage regular cleanups and equipment maintenance. 


Preventative Maintenance Checklist

Now, let’s walk through how to take care of your restaurant’s equipment with this preventative maintenance checklist, broken down into daily, weekly, quarterly, and annual tasks. Don’t forget to check each machine’s owner’s manual before diving in. 

Walk-In Freezer Maintenance

It’s important to not overfill your walk-in and always keep aisles clear, since you know, employees have to walk in it. Turning off the interior lights of your walk-in freezers and coolers is also an essential step you can take to save energy and avoid overworking the compressor. When lights are left on, they heat up the interior and the unit must work extra hard to combat the rising temperature. Consult your equipment manual for specific protocols, but use the following checklist as a maintenance guideline. 


  • Check temperature settings. The ideal temperature for commercial freezers is at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit for proper food storage.
  • Turn off all interior lights at closing
  • Ensure aisles are clear and the freezer isn’t overcrowded 
  • Clean up any spills immediately and sweep the floor


  • Clean and inspect gaskets 
  • Wipe down interiors and shelves
  • Check hinges and doors to make sure they are in alignment 
  • Inspect the door sweep for tears or damage


  • Check refrigerant levels 
  • Inspect compressor operation
  • Calibrate thermometers 
  • Clean fan blades 
  • Clean evaporator coils and condenser
  • Inspect door panels and walls for loose caulking


  • Hire an electrician to check electrical connections
  • Inspect and clean freezer drain lines

Refrigerator Maintenance

Reach-in refrigeration units are essential to the daily operations of your restaurant, and it takes steps to properly maintain it so you can use it for years to come. You may need to contact a certified professional to undertake some of the more technical tasks listed below. 


  • Make sure the temperature is set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below
  • Wipe down interiors and shelves
  • Clean and wipe down gasket


  • Inspect gaskets for any tears or damage
  • Inspect compressor
  • Clean fan blades
  • Clean evaporator coils and condensor


  • Test temperature controls
  • Check refrigerant levels

Range Top and Griddle Maintenance

Cleaning your range top and flat top griddle on a daily basis keeps grease buildup under control while also making sure your food tastes great. Flavors lingering from stale grease is an easy way to ruin your dishes. 


  • Season cooking surfaces if required
  • Empty and wipe down grease cup or waste drawer
  • Clean charbroiler grates and flat top griddle plate


  • Calibrate and check thermostat


  • Check and replace worn controls or knobs
  • Visually inspect the machine
  • Inspect cooking surface for cracks or signs of damage

Fryer Maintenance

Your deep fryer requires regular equipment maintenance to improve the taste of your dishes. It’s important to adhere to an oil filtration and replacement schedule so that your fried foods taste crispy and fresh with no flavor transfer. These general guidelines could vary depending on how often you use your fryer and how much fried food you sell each day. 


  • Clean fryer baskets
  • Clean fryer exterior
  • Filter fry oil


  • Replace fry filter oil


  • Remove fryer from the wall and clean surrounding areas
  • Inspect pilot light
  • Inspect o-rings and drain pain connections
  • Clean air vents and blower


  • Deep clean and boil out the fryer

Combi Oven Maintenance

Your combi oven depends on steam to cook, so you’ll need to perform routine de-liming maintenance to discourage scale buildup. Fortunately, modern combi ovens include an automatic cleaning mechanism that can be executed with the touch of a button. When your combi oven alerts you that it’s time for a cleaning, you should complete it as soon as possible. Your owner’s manual will contain more detailed steps to complete the cleaning cycles your combi oven requires. 


  • Sanitize food probe
  • Wipe down door gasket
  • Remove and wipe down drip tray
  • Clean interiors and racks


  • De-lime the steam generator
  • Remove and sanitize air filters
  • Inspect drain lines
  • Inspect door gasket for tears or damage
  • Check door hinges for damage


  • Check and recalibrate the thermostat

Convection Oven Maintenance

Convection ovens don’t require a ton of maintenance, but benefit from a frequent cleaning schedule. Wiping down grease on a daily basis prevents buildup from becoming an issue. Make sure to only use approved cleaners for all areas of the oven and to follow your manual’s instructions. 


  • Wipe down door gasket
  • Clean interiors and racks
  • Remove and clean drip tray


  • Check and clean air intake vent
  • Clean fan blade and housing
  • Check and clean flue
  • Inspect door gasket for tears
  • Check door hinges for signs of damage


  • Check and recalibrate thermostat

Dishwasher Maintenance

A key way to keep your commercial dishwasher in tip-top shape is to train your staff to always rinse food scraps from dirty dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. This will help keep the interior of your machine clean and prevent greasy residue from sticking to your clean dishes. 

Daily cleaning will go much smoother, as you won’t need to empty the filter or scrap basket as often. Another tip is to leave your machine open to air dry each night to prevent bacteria growth. 


  • Check sanitizer, rinse aid, and detergent levels
  • Empty scrap basket
  • Check rinse arm nozzles for blockages
  • Leave dishwasher open to air dry overnight after closing


  • Test rinse pressure and water temperature
  • De-lime interior
  • Check drain lines to ensure they are clear


  • Have a certified technician do a complete inspection

Stand Mixer Maintenance

Make sure to unplug your mixer before cleaning it to avoid potential injuries. Pay extra attention to the areas where batter will harden and splatter, like the gear shaft and attachment hub. Air dry or hand dry any removable parts before reassembling the mixer.


  • Clean and dry mixer attachments, shield, and bowl
  • Wipe down shaft, motor head, and attachment hub
  • Remove any debris from air vents
  • Wipe down mixer body and dry with a soft towel


  • Check lubricant levels and add as needed

Ice Machine Maintenance

It may not be first on your list, but neglecting to clean your ince machine can lead to a failed health inspection. Ice is considered a food, and any bin, scoop, or surface that touches ice should be considered a food-contact surface. 


  • Make sure ice maker is operating properly and producing ice
  • Inspect drain pipes to ensure they are clear of debris
  • Check temperature settings


  • Wipe down ice machine exterior


  • Clean condenser
  • Replace water filtration cartridges
  • Sanitize interior bin
  • Clean or replace air filters

Soda Dispenser Maintenance

Soda and beverage dispensers require daily cleaning, as syrup that collects in the soda lines or nozzles can breed bacteria and mold. To promote daily cleaning, train your staff to disassemble the machine nozzles, and post step-by-step instructions near the equipment. 


  • Remove and clean drip tray
  • Remove nozzles and clean and sanitize them
  • Empty ice from drop-in ice bin
  • Clean the bottom of dispensing valves
  • Clean bin and ice chute


  • Disconnect soak connectors and syrup lines
  • Allow connectors to air dry before reconnecting them


  • Clean bin and ice chute
  • Empty ice from top ice bin
  • Clean condenser
  • Inspect and replace water filters

The Most Common Equipment Maintenance Mistakes

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when taking care of your restaurant equipment.

1. Not following the correct maintenance procedures

Your owner’s manual is there to guide you – it’s always better to read each one thoroughly rather than damaging the machines by accidentally doing something harmful.

2. Not filling out the warranty details in time for it to be applicable

Many times, the warranty is only valid if the warranty card is filled out and returned in a specific allotment of time. However, most people make the mistake of not taking this step, and miss out on the warranty benefits, making regular maintenance become too expensive. 

3. Neglecting to train your employees on proper cleaning procedures

They must know how to use the equipment, but they also have to know how to clean it at the end of each day. 

4. Not creating a regular cleaning schedule, or not sticking to it

All pieces of equipment will be wiped on a daily basis, but deep cleaning must be scheduled in advance. The schedule should be based on the maintenance needs of each machine and should follow a cyclic pattern. 

5. Trying to “fix” restaurant equipment yourself

If you notice something is broken or not functioning properly, call an expert and don’t try to deal with it on your own. You may accidentally cause more extensive damage, which will be considerably more expensive to fix. Remember, most warranties are regarded as null if self-repair is attempted on the product, so play it safe and call in a technician. 

6. Not using the proper chemicals and cleaning supplies

Don’t assume that every cleaning agent will work on every machine. The chemical that makes one piece of equipment shine might corrode another. Train your staff to use the right chemicals on each machine to avoid damage beyond repair. This is especially true for stainless steel, out of which most restaurant machines are made. 

Start Implementing Preventative Maintenance Today

While many of these preventive maintenance tasks can be performed in-house by kitchen or back of house staff, check them annually by a qualified service technician. Should you have any questions about how to perform a task and the owner’s manual is unclear on how to perform it, spend the money to have a qualified professional do it than to perform the task improperly and ruin your equipment. Overall, any money you spend on preventive maintenance will pay for itself by lasting longer and significantly reducing the chance of an expensive emergency repair!

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