The core tenet of a successful restaurant is efficiency. The best way to run a productive restaurant operation is 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.
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 company performing at its best.
How to Maintain Your Griddles
For many restaurants, the large flat surface of a griddle is the backbone of their kitchen operations. Unfortunately, even after knowing this, operators are still inclined to believe that daily cleaning is the only maintenance it truly needs. However, if you want to avoid an unnecessary shutdown, you need to perform a lot of maintenance procedures to keep the device fit.
While daily cleaning is essential, you need to inspect and verify that your equipment is in proper working order. These inspections allow you to notice problems well before they become major ones.
There are also a number of semi-annual and annual tasks that need to be addressed in order to keep your griddle functioning properly and extend its lifespan. Performing the manufacturer’s recommended service ensures longevity by keeping your warranty intact and significantly reduces the likelihood of replacing the device before the end of its expected life.
The following list of tasks needed to keep your equipment at peak efficiency for gas griddles.
- Clean all surfaces
- Verify temperature controller operation
- Inspect for punctures and rips in overlay
- Ensure that the flume is not pushed in and return to proper area if it is out of place
These tasks should be completed at least twice a year but may be better performed on a monthly or quarterly basis if you have noticed problems in the past.
- Level griddle
- Ensure griddle is centrally located under the hood
- Inspect splash shield
- Inspect control compartment
- Inspect and ensure proper functionality of igniter probe assembly
- Clean probes with a wire brush or emery cloth
- Check, and clean if necessary, gas orifices Inspect and clean burner venturi tubes
- Check ignition wire harness for high-temperature degradation and grease buildup
- Clean ignition wire harness with contact cleaner
- Verify pressure of main burner regulator
- Verify operation of flame sensor
As with the semi-annual tasks, these should be completed at a minimum once per year; however, should you notice problems increase to quarterly or biannually. Inspect your combustion chamber and burner tiles for water stains and cracks, if found replace burners.
How to Maintain Your Extractor System
The silent and most helpful system in your kitchen is the exhaust hood system.
This system works constantly to remove airborne grease, fumes, smoke, heat, steam, and combustible products from the air using a filtration system. Properly maintaining your extractor system is key to ensure the fire safety of your restaurant.
Because this system isn’t directly responsible for cooking your food, it often gets neglected until you receive a costly health department complaint or when it needs an expensive emergency repair.
Here’s how to avoid these costly mistakes.
- Remove and clean filters
- Clean out grease drains
- Wipe down stainless steel surfaces
- Wipedown hood surfaces
- Inspect filters for defects
- Check the tightness of fasteners
- Check belt tension
- Ensure that the fan isn’t making any noises
- Dispose of contained grease
- Change rooftop filters
- Inspect extractor hood for gas and air leaks
- Clean ductwork from grease accumulation
- Lubricate and check bearings of hood filters
- Clean fans Inspect the ductwork seals for air tightness
- Look for clogged grease in external exhaust system, remove if found
- Ensure fan settings are correct
- Clean grease manifold
- Make sure ducts are draining properly
- Look for grease in uncommon areas
- Inspect rooftop containment system and look for grease leaks
- Clean out exhaust stacks
- Examine and grease bolts
- Check for belt wear, replace if necessary
- Check motor for cleanliness, grease as needed
How to Maintain Your Ovens
Ovens are undoubtedly the most important piece of equipment for restaurants, which is why its integral to prioritize proactive maintenance as a part of your daily routine. While this is a very thorough list, please see the specific manufacturer service manual for your equipment to ensure that nothing is missed, as these are high-quality pieces of equipment that need proper care and maintenance to match.
This list includes most maintenance needs for gas-powered ovens:
- Clean daily
- Inspect oven workspace, plenums, and door seals
- Check air intake and exhaust ducts for any obstructions
- Clean air intake
- Inspect oven seal
- Inspect electrical connections for tightness and signs of wear
- Tighten the set screws of bearings, shaft collars, and fans
- Oil the pivot joint
- Grease latch springs and cams
- Inspect circulation and exhaust fans
- Lubricate fan shaft bearings
- Inspect flame sensor for cleanliness and condition, make repairs and clean as needed
- Check the gas pressure
- Clean and inspect flame rods
- Inspect and clean combustion fan filters and air chamber
- Have the venting system checked by a service technician for possible deterioration
How to Maintain Walk-in Refrigeration Units
The refrigerator and freezer units are key to keeping your fresh and safe. Preventive maintenance can not only increase its lifespan by nearly double but also reduce food waste. If you have any questions about how to complete the tasks that follow, please see your specific model’s service manual.
- Check temperature settings
- Make sure defrost is set to no more than four times per day
- Clear out old food
- Ensure unit isn’t overcrowded for proper airflow
- Inspect gaskets and seals
- Check interior lighting
- Inspect condenser and evaporator coils for dust and debris
- Check and clean fan blades
- Clean evaporator and condenser coils
- Lubricate hinges
- Check refrigerant levels
- Inspect motor and compressor for proper operation
- Examine all parts for wear and tear
- Check suction line insulation
- Check all electrical connections
- Test and recalibrate thermometers
Start Implementing Preventative Maintenance Today
While many of these preventive maintenance tasks can be performed in house by kitchen or front of house staff, itcan be beneficial to have them checked 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!