No filtration system will solve your water issues for long without proper maintenance. Without it, you’ll eventually run into any number of problems, from off tastes in ice, water, coffee or fountain drinks to low water pressure, equipment downtime and unplanned service calls to shortened equipment life as a result of corrosion. In other words, higher input costs, reduced sales or both.
Filter Switch Ritual
Maintenance of a water filtration system mostly comes down to three words: change your filter! Use your computer or smartphone calendar to schedule reminders.
• How do manufacturers help keep restaurants on track? Some suppliers automatically ship new filters to units when switch-outs are due; others send the restaurant email or phone-text reminders. The advent of the IoT now allows for real-time monitoring of filtration systems. One manufacturer’s onboard monitoring measures how much water has gone through the system and sends an alert when the filter has reached 80% capacity and again when it reaches 100% capacity. A filter-change transmits via Wi-Fi to an app on the operator’s or servicer’s smartphone.
• Who changes the filters? In most cases, unit staff can do the job. Some restaurants have contracts with servicers for routine filtration system maintenance such as filter changes; some chains have their own maintenance staff visiting units to make switch-outs on schedule. RO filtration systems are more complicated, so specialists usually maintain them.
• What does a filter change involve? Shut off the water supply to the system, remove and dispose of used cartridges, remove new cartridges from their packaging, insert new cartridges, turn the water back on and flush the system for five to 10 minutes or as directed. Most cartridges today are easy to remove—slide them out with a simple quarter-twist; reverse the motion to install the new filter. Write the date on the newly installed filter or in a log book.
• When should filters be changed? Change filters on a regular schedule. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation. For older systems, filters needed replacing about every six months, but many modern, large-capacity systems require only an annual filter change. Change sediment pre-filters quarterly.
Monitor your water filtration systems for evidence of sub-performance. Change filters if they become clogged or the water flow or water pressure drop substantially, even if it isn’t yet time for the scheduled replacement. Check the pressure gauge; incoming water pressure should be at least 35-40 psi, and ideally 60-70 psi for maximum performance.
Periodic analysis of water quality is another good idea. “Most end-users think that as long as water is coming out of the filtration system, it must be OK,” one expert notes. “That’s not true. Filters have a lifespan capacity. In an area where you don’t have a lot of suspended solids to plug up the filter, the fact that you have apparently clean water coming out can give you a false sense of security.”
What Else To Know?
In addition to periodically checking for reduced water flow or pressure, keep an eye out for water leaks, unusual discoloration of water or a buildup of pre-filter or post-filter residue on components. Monitor water-using equipment for corrosion or scale buildup.
Even if you regularly maintain your filtration system, you can’t expect it to last forever. Manufacturers typically offer a five-year warranty, although systems can last longer. Major changes that might make it advantageous to upgrade to a new system before the old one gives out include:
• Changes in your menu or the number of covers per day.
• Installation of new water-using equipment.
• Changes in your municipal water supply.
• An advance in filtration technology that could benefit you.
Take good care to regularly maintain your water filtration system and customers will better enjoy beverages and your equipment will run more efficiently and last longer.
Copyright FER July 2017
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