Restaurant Equipment Service Tips

Service Tips

Equipment Tips

Service Tips

1. Electrical Breakers, Circuits and Equipment

Before calling for service, check to see that power is on and the unit is correctly plugged into a live circuit. Check circuit breaker. If you need to reset the breaker more than occasionally, call a well qualified technician for service. Equipment should have its own designated circuit and not use extension cords.

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2. Refrigeration: Walk In Coolers / Freezers, Reach In Coolers / Freezers

Remind staff to keep doors/drawers closed at all times. Door springs and hydraulic closers are available to assist you. On walk-in boxes doors that are left open, even the slightest opening will cause box temperatures to rise. The result of a door being open can be:

A. Increase in room temperature due to warm air infiltrating walk-in.

B. Eventually, if left unattended, the evaporator coil can ice over restricting airflow to refrigerate your cabinet.


Remedy: If you have an iced over evaporator coil you can shut off the compressor by raising the thermostat setting or by disconnecting electric power until ice has defrosted (1 to 3 hours). You may use a hair dryer or hot water.

Occasionally check the front or back of the evaporator coil for blockage caused by saran wraps which may have come loose from the staff sealing product. Brush the evaporator coil fins in a horizontal direction every 6 months to keep clean. If the evaporator drain pan seems to be overflowing remove drain connection, use a bucket to catch water, and lower the pan carefully, accounting for water in the pan by using a bucket. Clean the pan of debris and then blow out the drain with propellant Ex. Co2 tank with a hose you can have made up. This will come in very handy around your business. Special precaution must be taken when handling the C02 tank. High pressure exists in tanks. Penetrations from refrigerant pipe or an electrical drain line should always be sealed not allowing cold air out or warm air to enter the box (Foam Insulation, Silicone).

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3. Refrigeration Defrost Cycle: Walk-in Freezers / Reach-in Freezers

Defrost cycles exist on all freezers unlike a majority of walk-in coolers where they do not exist. Know the time of day your equipment goes into its defrost cycle (3 to 4 times for 40 mins). Often operators may think they have a system problem due to the defrost cycle being active. Box temperatures can rise up to 30ºF; however, this will only be momentary. Product temperatures will remain 0ºF. Fans will normally shut off during this time.

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4. Evaporator Coil Issues: Walk-in Coolers / Reach-in Coolers

It is not uncommon for evaporator coils to develop refrigerant leaks. Often this is caused by foods with high acidity (e.g.: pickles, onions, tomatoes, vinegars, salad dressings, etc.). To prevent and slow this process from happening, keep products sealed or covered. In the event it becomes necessary to replace the coil, ask your service company to install a coated coil. This costs a bit more money but will help guard against recurring corrosion.

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5. Proper Refrigeration Temperatures

  • Reach-in Coolers – 35ºF to 38ºF
  • Walk-in Coolers – 35ºF to 38ºF
  • Reach-in Freezers – +5ºF to -10ºF
  • Walk-in Freezer – 0º to -10ºF
  • Ice Cream Freezer –10ºF to -20ºF

Remember, refrigerator temperatures will rise when your equipment door is opening frequently. Allow 5 to 10 minutes with the door closed before calling for service if the temperatures are above normal. Walk-in boxes that have a thermometer mounted on the door frame can be inaccurate to 2º to 5º. Always use secondary stem thermometer under/near the evaporator coil and wait 10 minutes for reading. Door thermometer temperatures can fluctuate due to their location right at the door. Also, they may become inaccurate due to the door closing and jarring over a period of time. Always have a back-up for proper temperature control. Door curtains for walk-in boxes can be very helpful in order to keep cold air in and minimize box temperatures form rising ( See Refrigeration Accessories for Door Curtains.).

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6. Condenser Coil Cleaning: Air Cooled Equipment

Keeping the condenser coils on your refrigeration systems clean is the single most important maintenance task to undertake in order to minimize system failure, including compressor failure. Keep condensers on your refrigeration equipment clean by lightly brushing (clean fins with vertical strokes). Be careful when blowing out condensers with C0 2 as to not over pressure and cause fins to fold over. When using air or C02, also be careful not to allow all the potential dust into your kitchen. Condenser coils will normally be found on self-contained equipment under the lower panel (they look like a grill, with radiator fins going vertical above walk-in coolers). Condenser coils for remote equipment can be located in a basement, on the exterior roof, in an attic or other remote location. Condenser coils located outdoors may be cleaned with a garden hose, but be careful not to get motor or electrical components wet (turn off power when performing).

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7. Ice Machines: Ice Is Food

An ice machine is one of the best investments a food service operation will ever make. If the ice maker is properly maintained, it will allow you a finished product to be added to all types of beverages, improving beverage acceptance and increasing your profit. Ice machines should be cleaned (de-limed) a minimum of every 6 months along with sanitizing. This service should be performed by a qualified service technician with a list of tasks including cleaning the condenser, blowing out the bin drain, cycle and adjust check-out. Water filters where they apply should be replaced every 6 months (see article under Ice Machine Water Treatment). Housekeeping by you should include removing all ice from the storage bin bi-weekly, cleaning with mild detergent, and rinsing and sanitizing with approved sanitizer. You can also keep your condenser clean (see Cleaning Condenser). When emptying your storage bin for the above housekeeping, place your ice in a clean container in order to be used as your needs may exist. Health departments are checking storage bins and ice makers for cleanliness: ice is food!

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8. HVAC Equipment

Replace air filters every 30 or 60 days Clean condenser (see Cleaning HVAC Condenser Coils). Do not set A/C room temperature below 72ºF. This can result in freezing up evaporator coils. Verify all panels are securely fastened. Your HVAC equipment should be maintained at minimum twice yearly, and it is recommended that an authorized service technician perform the maintenance.

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9. Cleaning HVAC Condenser Coils

Most condenser coils that are located outdoors can be cleaned with a garden hose. Special precautions should be made not to get water on motor or electrical components (turn off power when performing). Remember outdoor condenser coils are susceptible to cottonwood in the air. In many regions, during May and June, pollen (Cottonwood) may clog your condenser requiring more frequent cleaning. Otherwise, cleaning your HVAC system once per year is sufficient. Clean remote refrigeration systems twice per year. Grease that becomes built up on condenser coils should be cleaned by a qualified service technician.

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10. Exhaust Hoods and Fans

Replace or clean hood filters as required for optimal performance. Have your system cleaned by a qualified service company as required. Remember cooking with an exhaust hood that is not operative or not operating properly can cause fire, also system releasing chemical (when applicable).

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11. Ovens / Ranges

Promptly wipe spills from ovens. General housekeeping is very important. Boil-overs can clog orifices on burners. Always clean promptly.

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12. Steam Tables and Warmers

Make sure to keep the water level in your steam table at an appropriate level. Heating elements running with inadequate water levels will immediately fail. De-scaling of heating elements must be done on a routine basis for optimum performance and reduction in breakdown.

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13. Fryers

Fryer oil level must be maintained. Overheating must be prevented. Properly adjust thermostat at all times. Grease spills within fryer compartment must be cleaned promptly to prevent fire. Fryers/oil should be filtered and replaced routinely, as determined by management.

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Equipment Tips

1. Understanding Your Refrigeration Equipment

Sometimes it seems that today's equipment is not built as well as yesterday's equipment. The equipment is made of cheaper, lighter, less durable materials. But things are not always as they seem. Equipment is made of lighter, more durable materials less prone to rust and abuse. The lighter materials are generally more environmentally friendly and are less costly to transport. Compressors on today's equipment are radically different. Today's compressors are more compact yet have greater capacity than yesteryear's. They are also more energy efficient operationally. Cooling systems use less refrigerant to provide the same amount or greater cooling capacity. Cooling system components are bundled closer together to give larger cooling boxes less space than yesteryear's' coolers. Motors are more efficient, thermostats more sensitive. All these changes help to make today's equipment operate longer and more efficiently than ever.

All the changes have not come without some cost. Motors are more sensitive to voltage variation. Yesteryear's brownouts and voltage spikes can cause significant damage to today's more sensitive controls. In-line power conditioners help protect all your electronic equipment, not just your cooling systems. Refrigeration systems running on minimum amounts of refrigerant cannot tolerate even small losses. Better pressure controls help to maintain refrigerant instead of allowing it to escape into the atmosphere. Pressure controls and refrigerant recovery systems make good sense, and are the law. With proper maintenance, today's equipment will save you money both in the long and short term.

With the increased sophistication of today's equipment, regular maintenance is a must. High usage equipment should be checked three or four times a year. Even equipment less used should be checked twice a year. An owner can help maintain his/her equipment by checking door gaskets for proper sealing, cleaning condensers, replacing filters and flushing drains regularly. If you have questions about maintenance, or want to know how to help in maintaining your equipment, feel free to call us. When properly maintained, today's equipment will give you years of efficient operation.

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2. Refrigeration: Unwanted Heat Loads

Refrigeration equipment is generally sized to handle a certain heat load.When the unit reaches a preset temperature, the compressor turns off. If the heat load is altered in any way and becomes greater than the unit was designed for, the equipment may become overloaded. Overloading the unit will result in excessive energy consumption, longer running time for the compressor and a shortened life span of the equipment.

Changing the load in a cooler can be as innocent as replacing a light bulb with one of a higher wattage. Walk-in type boxes should not have more than a 40 to 60 watt bulb in each socket. Reach-in boxes usually have 20-watt bulbs. Be sure that if the fixture was equipped with a safety cover for the bulb, it is re-installed after replacing the bulb. These dome covers are usually made of plastic or glass and are designed to be the insulator to keep the heat in the bulb. This increases bulb life and protects the bulb from damage. And, should the bulb break, the dome cover will protect food and employees from broken glass.

Inspect the door gaskets on your equipment on a regular basis. Warm air can leak into the unit from poor fitting, torn, or missing gaskets and can overload the compressor. Unless the cooling equipment is specially designed for fast temperature pull down, do not put in any food that is above room temperature. This will dramatically overload the equipment. Be sure ALL kitchen staff is in the habit of tightly closing all doors and drawers. On walk-ins, if the equipment sees heavy traffic, consider installing air curtains in the doorway. Proper care of your equipment will greatly increase its useful lifespan.

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3. Door Gaskets

A very important consideration in the efficiency of refrigeration equipment is the door gasket's ability to provide a proper seal. This allows the equipment to function at peak performance. If the gasket is not functioning properly the refrigeration system will operate inefficiently. There is a tendency to ignore failed door gaskets until a problem such a food loss, compressor breakdown or intervention from a local health inspector becomes a concern.

Checking the door gasket on a regular basis can provide cost savings and superior performance. Determining if a door gasket is providing a proper seal can be accomplished by a simple test. Place a dollar bill between the closing surface and the door gasket. If you are able to pull out the dollar bill without tugging on it, the door gasket is in need of inspection and possible replacement. With a magnetic gasket, check the corners to determine if there is a gap. If so, attention is needed.

Check the gasket to be sure it is not binding at the hinges as this can cause tension on the opposite side of the door, and a poor seal. Keeping the gasket clean by wiping it with a damp cloth soaked in a mild detergent will prolong the life of the gasket. The benefits gained from regular inspection of door gaskets are significant. Underestimating the importance of properly functioning gaskets can cause health concerns and increased operating costs.

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4. Water Treatment: Ice Makers, Soda Dispensers and Steam Tables

Most municipalities supplying water to their inhabitants treat the water in some way. Although this treated water is usually delivered for a fee (in the form of a water bill or tax) it may seem that you are not getting your money's worth! Municipalities only treat water to be safe to drink. It is not suitably purified for use in a beverage system or ice maker. beverage systems and ice makers require water purity of a very high level to operate properly and efficiently.

Because of varying hardness, PH levels, iron, calcium, sulfur and other mineral content from one source to the next, untreated water can adversely effect sensitive equipment. The end result is poor product quality for soda and ice, premature breakdowns and costly repair bills. Just as there are differing water conditions, there are different types of water filters. There is not one filter solution for all water problems. Filters are specially designed for hot water, coffee makers, soda systems, and ice machines. A filter should also be matched to the water supplied if a municipality changes its filtering process, your filter may need to be changed to match the new water supply.

Finding the correct filter for a given application may be as simple as a visual check of the equipment or as in depth as a laboratory test to determine exact mineral and bacteria levels. No matter which system fits your needs, assuming it is sized properly, will only contain enough purifying chemicals for six months of use. After the chemicals are exhausted, the filter must be replaced to prevent trapped minerals and bacteria inside the canister from contaminating the incoming water. A spent filter creates a condition worse than with no filter at all.

The proper filter, combined with a regular maintenance program will reduce breakdowns, improve the quality of ice and beverages, and extend the life of your equipment.

We will be happy to assist you in selecting the filtration system and/or replacement filters that best suit your application.

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