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BACK STORY: Conductive Reasoning

There are few things more frustrating than issues on brand new equipment, especially when you’re relying on that new equipment to replace something you’ve removed. And when Tony Rapanotti, CEO of A R Repairs, Center Line, Mich., encountered an oddball problem on a newly installed dough proofer at a grocery store, he knew he was in for some frustration, too.

“We had already been to the store and assembled the machine,” Rapanotti explains, “but before I could even return to do the start up, I got a call from the electricians telling me that the proofer was pouring water everywhere.” A dough proofer creates a soft steam which activates the yeast and allows the bread to rise. “I had been installing these same machines all over the country, there were only two parts that could be defective and cause this—either the probe inside the proofer tank or the liquid-level control board,” Rapanotti continues. “After replacing both of them, the problem persisted.” There had to be another factor outside of his control.

“After tinkering with it for a while—taking different readings and rechecking the plumbing—an idea struck me. I had one of the employees run over to the aquarium supplies aisle and grab some new coral and a bag of diatomaceous earth,” Rapanotti says. He then broke up the coral into pieces and dumped the diatomaceous earth into the water. It was an almost instant fix. Rapanotti explains, “Water is conductive, so when it reaches a certain level and hits the probe, a circuit is completed.” However, not all water is equally conductive. “They had installed a reverse osmosis system across the entire store that I had never been told about. It was doing such a good job of removing the minerals from their water, that the water no longer had enough conductivity to complete the circuit!” Adding the various minerals from the coral and diatomaceous earth increased the conductivity enough to restore the circuit. “After that, they had to attach a feeder (cartridge) on the proofer’s waterline to re-mineralize the water as a permanent fix,” says Rapanotti.

Rare, oddball cases like this can come up and it’s especially frustrating when it’s a brand-new piece of equipment. It’s important that there’s communication between everyone involved to properly diagnose the issue. Many lengthy and costly repairs can be avoided simply by providing your service agent with all the information and clues possible. 

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