Practicing Prevention

Regular equipment maintenance reduces downtime, increases selling opportunities.

Amanda Baltazar, Freelance writer

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Exhaust Hood

It may be ugly and noisy, but an exhaust hood is often required in any c-store that cooks food.

  • Keep it clean on the outside with a degreaser. “If you leave it, the grease will build up and you’ll have to call in a professional,” says Dunne of Restaurant City.
  • Check the belt at least annually, preferably twice a year, and replace it every year.
  • Remove and wash all filters every 30 days. “You can usually power wash them or put them through the car wash,” says David Kincheloe, president of National Restaurant Consultants, Denver.
  • Empty the grease trap regularly to keep the machine efficient.
  • Add triangular panels to direct the heat into the hood. These cost $100 to $200 each.
  • Make sure there’s no gap between the hood and the wall, “or air will go between the wall and vent hood,” says Clark of NRA, “and your motors will have to work harder to clean the air, using more energy.”
  • Consider buying on-demand ventilation systems, with variable speed motor drives for the exhaust hood fans.
  • For safety reasons, make sure you have your fire-suppression systems certified annually.

Coffee Machines

Coffee machines aren’t big drains on budgets, but they’re still worth monitoring.

  • Change the filters regularly.
  • Every day, wipe down the machine and clean the nozzle that the coffee flows through.
  • Clean the water lines coming into the coffee machine every two to four weeks, says Kincheloe. “If you don’t, calcium builds up and the equipment becomes less efficient,” he says. 

Roller Grills

Roller grills need a little attention, both to keep food tasting good and the machine running well.

  • Wash roller grills with hot, soapy water to prevent bacteria buildup, says Hodge. “The buildup of the juices and the fat will also cake on,” he says, “and not only do you get a worse product, [but] it can get down into the bearings and cause problems with the motor.”
  • Every day, wipe down the drawer underneath the warmer. It’s moist, so it’s an area that can harbor bacteria and mold.

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