Maintenance: Fryer Faux Pas

Avoid these filtration missteps to keep your fryers functioning as designed, says General Parts’ Pat Finley.

On-schedule filtration, an automatic process on some newer models, is key to maintaining fryer health. Courtesy of Frymaster.

Today, more and more fryer models feature automatic filtration. On select models, with the proper filtration paper or carbon pad in its designated place, the setting kicks on after a set number of basket drops. This keeps staff safe, reduces labor tied to manual filtration and extends oil life for better-tasting fried foods.

A unit that can practically maintain itself may sound like a dream come true, but technology can only go so far in counteracting the perennial nightmare that is human error.

Recently, we learned the reality of what’s happening with those units via Pat Finley, lead service technician at General Parts Group and a Level 2 certified trainer for one fryer brand. Out in the field in the Indianapolis region, Finley says his recent service calls on fryers concern one thing and one thing only: filtration.

Here’s what he recommends:

• Stick to your unit’s settings. Finley has seen instances where restaurant employees, wanting to avoid downtime for automatic filtration, figure out passwords to override their fryer’s settings. And, while the “trick” may work short-term, Finley’s personal knowledge of this issue just goes to show how it pans out. “By the time it gets to me, generally the fryer won’t drain or it’s having a hard time pumping back up, which leads to excessive downtime,” he explains. The resulting issue (a clog in the filter system) starts at about $500 to fix, Finley says. And, quite often, it’s going to happen during a lunch rush, adding salt to the wound. A fully automatic filtration cycle, on the other hand, takes a few minutes, plus another minute to get up to temperature. “It’s not really that much of a delay, but they just are not used to it and it’s an inconvenience, so they just turn it off,” Finley says. The bottom line: Urge staff against disabling automatic filtration; there’s a reason the feature has set frequencies.

• Pay attention to manufacturer specifications on filter paper type and installation. On the other hand, well-intentioned filtering practices can fail, too. If filter papers are incorrectly installed, crumbs can get into the filter pump, Finley explains, clogging the lines. “Sometimes you have to take the pump out, take it apart and clean it out, put it back together, and then you have to separate the oil lines and get the clog out, and put it all back together. So anytime something like that happens, it’s at least a couple hours down,” Finley says. While a technician goes over training protocols at fryer installation, that knowledge may get watered down with time. To avoid this pitfall, ensure your staff knows your fryer’s filtration specifics, including type (carbon pad or paper), placement, frequency and more.

Finley says operators don’t typically opt into planned maintenance on fryers; so long as they’re filtering and changing the oil, that’s likely OK. Keep your house’s protocols in check and you’ll enjoy the benefits—among them less downtime, less-frequent oil replacement and a priceless staple: better-tasting food.


Finley, who has been in the industry for 18 years (13 of them at General Parts), founded the Commercial Kitchen Chronicles podcast in 2022. Seventy-plus episodes later, Finley—along with co-hosts Jason Latimer, of Caspers Service Co., and Rich Ortega, of Whaley Foodservice—continues to showcase and highlight individuals’ industry journeys. “We think it’s a pretty cool job, and we just want to show it off to everybody,” Finley says. “We’re trying to get more technicians into the field.”


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