• Ralph Burch

Reduce Commercial Kitchen Expenses by following these simple checks before placing service calls.

Reducing Kitchen Expenses

By Gordon White, Cookline Supervisor

Pro-Air Mechanical

Any kitchen manager/RGM who has a bonus system based at least partially on R&M (Repair and Maintenance), knows just how devastating unexpected repairs can be come bonus time. But a knowledgeable manager can reduce those expenses somewhat by knowing what to check prior to calling a service tech out for repairs. Honestly, nothing is worse than paying a servicing company up to $200 just to push a simple button. And that is just a sample of what an astute manager can do themselves with their knowledge to reduce kitchen expenses.

High Limits

A high limit is a safety device installed by a manufacturer to prevent fires or damage. If the device reaches a certain predesigned temperature, the high limit will trip, shutting off the unit to prevent further damage. Some of the high limits used are auto resetting so that once the unit cools down, it will begin operating again until it is triggered once more. But the vast majority of them use manual resets.

It is a good idea for a manager to be very familiar with the high limits on all the equipment in their kitchen. Manual resettable high limits are the ones most often forgotten in restaurant kitchens until they trip and the equipment goes down. Panic can ensue in the kitchen, which results in a call to a servicing agent. The equipment Owner’s Manual can educate the manager on the location of the machine’s high limit and how it operates as well as resets.

Drain/Float Switches

Drain and/or float switches are most commonly used on tank based equipment to prevent them from heating while empty. Heating while empty can damage the equipment, and in some cases, start a major store fire that can result in a fire suppression trigger. Everyone that has ever had to clean up after a suppression trigger knows what a mess that is!

Float switches are exactly that. They usually consist of a shaft with a float on it that is on when the pot is full and off when it is not. One of the most common problems they have is sticking in the off (down in most cases) position, preventing the unit from operating. This is usually due to debris on the shaft the float moves up and down on. Weekly cleaning (or when ever the oil is changed in fryers) will go a long way towards preventing unexpected problems with it.

Drain switches are usually devices mounted somewhere around the handle of the drain valve and are used in lieu of float switches by many manufacturers. There are different types of drain switches, but their principles are all the same. They are on with the drain handle in the closed position and off when in the open position. If a handle isn’t fully closed, the valve may not leak, but still may not trigger the drain switch. Simply checking the handle position takes seconds and could make the difference in whether a restaurant calls out the servicing agent or not.

One of the biggest things a servicing tech hears from a store is that they no longer have an Owner’s Manual. In today’s digital age, that is easy to alleviate. Most manufacturers make them readily available on their website for download in a printable format at no charge. A simple investment in time can result in bankable savings in kitchen expenses. Think about this and my next blog post will look further at other ways kitchen managers can save money armed with knowledge about their kitchen equipment.


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