Brush Up on Equipment Maintenance

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As well-meaning as employees’ cleaning procedures may be, technicians remind that certain processes can damage equipment.

Gone unchecked, standard kitchen cleaning procedures can result in unintended consequences and costs. Here, we revisit our archives to air a couple of equipment cleaning mistakes that persist—and that you’ll want to sidestep:

Never power wash the outside of your powered sink, says Smart Care’s Steve Pfaehler, senior technical trainer and a CFESA master technician, as its control compartment “is water-resistant—but not waterproof.” Once water infiltrates the compartment, a new controller and associated parts are the likely fix. Powered sink repairs costs vary from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand depending on what broke, Pfaehler says.

The “sheet pan method” for cleaning gas grills is a common mishap, says Cliff Kolinger, a technician with EMR in Salisbury, Md. But, when employees put the sheet over the grates and crank the heat to high to burn off leftover food, Kolinger says that excess heat collecting at the front of the unit can cause problems, recalling one service call where the customer said their knobs were melting. “I just happened to be fortunate enough to see the cooks [use the sheet pan method], because otherwise there is no reason for that to happen,” Kolinger says. Instead, he recommends using a grill brush to keep grates clean. He added that more common than melting knobs is cast iron grill grates that warp from excessive heat.

Soda water soaks aren’t enough to effectively clean soda fountain nozzles, says Robert DePue, a technician at Sam Service’s office in Suwanee, Ga. “That’s just CO2 in water; you’re not actually cleaning anything,” DePue clarifies. Rather, he recommends soaking the nozzles in hot water (though not too hot that you can’t put your hands in it) mixed with food-equipment safe sanitizer, and then scrubbing each nozzle with a toothbrush or similar tool.

Besides educating staff on the above misconceptions, technicians remind operators to follow manufacturer-specific recommendations (like, say which dish soap to use with a powered sink).

—Original reporting by Lauren Coughlin and Derek Fleming

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