Your cooking equipment is probably the most important thing inside your restaurant. One unexpected failure could ruin a busy dinner service. Even worse, a kitchen fire could put you out of service for days, or even weeks.
To keep your equipment – and your business – operational, the following five points are often the most critical routine maintenance requirements in the kitchen. The best practices listed below are the requirements of Society Insurance and are based on our company’s loss history and expertise in the restaurant markets that we serve. These best practices closely reflect the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards and may be more or less stringent than the NFPA standards.
1. Vent hood and duct cleaning
To remove grease that has built up from grease-laden vapors, the vent hood and duct should be cleaned by a qualified contractor at least once every six months. This service must be done by a certified hood cleaning service. This service may need to be performed more frequently, but every six months is a minimum for most commercial kitchens. Between service dates, the staff can wipe down the visible parts of the hood to at least help keep it clean on the outside.
2. Grease filter cleaning
Grease filters collect grease as the grease-laden vapors flow up into the hood, reducing the amount of grease that travels directly into the duct. While this is great in improving the amount of time between duct cleanings, it does mean that the grease filters must be cleaned routinely.
The most common grease filter cleaning interval is once a week, but they may need to be done more often if you do heavy grease cooking. Many restaurants clean the filters nightly, which is an excellent way to reduce fire risks. For more detailed information, continue reading Five Steps to Clean Kitchen Grease Filters.
3. Automatic Extinguishing System (AES) service
The AES, commonly known as the ANSUL System, must be serviced by a qualified contractor at least every six months. Industry testing has shown that the AES service interval should be at least every six months to ensure that all components are ready to work in an instant, if a fire occurs.
4. Deep fat fryer inspection
A deep fat fryer is one of the greatest fire hazards in most commercial kitchens. The deep fat fryer should be cleaned and maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, which includes routine cleaning of the interior of the cabinet by your staff. The fryer should also be inspected by a qualified commercial cooking appliance contractor at least every twelve months after the fryer unit has been in service for five years. The contractor inspection includes items which are inaccessible and may be potentially dangerous to untrained employees. For more detailed information, continue reading Fire Preventive Maintenance for Deep Fryers.
5. Floor maintenance
Most people don’t think of their kitchen floor as part of their equipment, but it is actually the equipment that gets more regular use than any other part of your kitchen. Improper floor care can contribute to a slip and fall that can bring your kitchen’s productivity to a halt, leave you short staffed, and cut into your bottom line.
Floors should be cleaned routinely with a quality cleaner designed for commercial kitchen floors. The National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) offers a list of tested and certified floor cleaning products at NFSI.org. It is important to scrub the floors vigorously with a deck brush as part of your daily floor-cleaning routine. Rubber mats and non-slip kitchen shoes will also help improve traction. For more detailed information, continue reading A Slippery Situation: Cleaning Restaurant Kitchen Floors.
We know that cooking equipment is a common cause of fires in commercial kitchens. (See the data in Learning from Loss: Cooking Equipment Fires.) A properly-maintained kitchen can help your business avoid a costly kitchen catastrophe. Although this isn’t a comprehensive list of all routine kitchen maintenance best practices, this quick list highlights some of the most critical maintenance requirements that will help you stay safe and keep your operation running smoothly.