Foodservice Equipment Reports
Light Cooking Equipment

Maintenance Tips: Conveyor Toast Troubleshooting

The first things to check if your toaster is not working is that it’s plugged in, and then check the circuit breaker; make sure the toaster control is on. If the heat is coming on but it’s only toasting one side, it’s likely you have a burnt-out element. Heating elements are critical components and usually don’t require maintenance during the life of the unit. However, if dust and debris accumulate on them, they can slowly lose their toasting effectiveness; sometimes they burn out. Cleaning the elements will depend on which type of element your toaster has and the manufacturer’s recommended process for cleaning them. In most cases, if you have a metal-sheathed element, use a simple long-handle wire brush to remove excess particles. (But first, unplug the unit and let it cool down).

Glass tube or quartz elements are more fragile and as they gather debris, they’ll turn a cloudy color. Although this may appear to weaken the effectiveness of the elements, which use infrared technology, it actually doesn’t. According to a seven-year test performed at a major brand’s facilities, there was no significant reduction in heating capacity if the glass tube was cloudy.

You’re actually taking a bit of a risk if you try and clean quartz elements; they can become brittle with age. Element care and/or replacement is a job for a service tech. If elements get too covered in built-up debris, a service tech can use a green scrub pad to gently remove and clean the elements, but he or she will only do it when the elements are cool; hot elements are even more fragile. The tech might even have replacement tubes on hand to get the unit running while cleaning the elements.

If the unit heats up but the conveyor isn’t moving, it’s either blocked or the drive motor has failed. The operator’s manual will have a troubleshooting guide that can walk you through how to check the conveyor for blockage. A dead drive requires a service call.

Make it a practice to dump crumb catchers daily. Otherwise the little particulates can build up and ultimately interfere with the mechanical workings of the toaster. As debris settles onto gears and shafts, and the temperature rises, these bits start to caramelize and gunk up, causing the conveyor mechanism to misalign. Keep the unit clean and crumb free. Another common complaint from operators concerns bread sticking to the conveyor. This results from excessively moist bread—especially breads with a high sugar content—coming into to contact with a hot conveyor chain. Conveyors work best on breads that are at room temperature, so frozen breads, or worse, breads pre-spread with butter or other toppings are likely to stick.

 

Copyright FER January 2017

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