Tips on Deciding If You Should Repair or Replace a Fryer

Putting fryers right to use after they’ve sat idle for an extended period of time may not be an option if employees didn’t shut them down properly. One fryer manufacturer and service agent we interviewed point to filtration systems as a leading cause of service calls once foodservice facilities came back online after the COVID-19 closures. Here are some tips when deciding whether to repair or replace a fryer.

PAY ATTENTION TO FILTRATION

“Some operators may have put a lid on their fryers or even emptied the fry pot when they closed down but they ignored the filtration system,” says the manufacturer. Employees should have cleaned out the systems, whether built in or portable, before shutting the fryer down for the extended period.

Not unplugging fryers and external filters before the closures compounded the issue, says John Schwindt, general manager and vice president of operations at Hawkins Commercial Appliance Service. “Even if you drained the oil before turning the fryers off but kept them plugged in, the heat tape wrapping your return lines from the filter to the fry pot kept heat in the lines, baking residual grease for months,” Schwindt says. “When operators started back up with new oil in their units and went to filter them, the filter pumps worked slowly or not at all.”

WEIGHING COSTS

Keeping these issues in mind, assess the costs when deciding whether to repair or replace the fryer. Low-end fryers cost around $800, says the manufacturer, and if the cost of repairing the filtration system, for example, is $300 to $400, it may be time to get a new fryer, particularly if it’s been in use for a few years. Schwindt says, “If a repair cost is half of the price of a new fryer, it’s time to replace it.”

Consider the age of the unit as well. The general rule, says Schwindt, is seven to 10 years for the average operator, five to seven years for a kitchen open 18 hours a day and maybe five years for a 24-hour operation. School kitchens that are open during the day and closed for weekends and summer break can expect many more years of useful life from a fryer if it’s properly shut down.

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