When it comes to keeping your kitchen equipment working efficiently, planned maintenance is essential. Aside from inspecting for wear and tear, making any machine adjustments, checking gas ranges and carbon monoxide emissions, replacing worn components and lubricating moving parts, you may be surprised to discover that one of the most problematic issues is down to your water supply.
Your mains supply contains minerals that can cause lime scale and corrosion in equipment that uses steam, which in turn can reduce performance and cause breakdowns. Hard water areas especially, will suffer from faster lime scale build up.
When you consider that many cooking and regeneration methods involve steam, and that combi, steam, bakery, and some convection ovens, all use water in cooking and self-cleaning programmes, you begin to appreciate the scale of the problem. Not to mention other water-reliant appliances that are effected, such as dishwashers, bratt pans and hot water boilers.
The nitty gritty
Excessive build-up of limescale, chlorides or dirt can affect all manner of components such as probes, heating rod elements, heat exchangers, hot plates, sensors, solenoid valves and floats that regulate water levels, draining, flow, pressure and temperature.
Once these elements of your appliance start acting up, they effect the performance of the equipment and in turn the cooking of food. If left unchecked they will result in equipment failure and additional costs to replace heating elements, cracked boiler tanks and corroded tubing and sensors.
Early warning signs to look out for include:
- Uneven cooking cycles thanks to the overfilling or underfilling of reservoirs
- Longer cooking cycles as mineral scale clogs up the holes in the oven where the steam is issued.
And it’s not just breakdowns that may leave you facing unwanted costs. Lime scale reduces heat conduction and as little as ¼” of lime scale on heating elements can result in up to a 38% loss of energy efficiency, thanks to the appliance having to work harder to achieve the desired temperatures.
Given that steam energy consumption can be 3% – 5% of total restaurant operating cost, this could seriously increase your overheads.
One way to reduce the effects of limescale and chloride build up, is to install external water treatment and filtration equipment that softens the water. Indeed many equipment warranties will demand this as condition.
Some appliances incorporate filtration systems and others also have daily descaling programmes. In this case, you are still relying on the human element, as it needs someone to religiously remember to put the tablet in at the end of the day and run the programme.
What’s more, to ensure these solutions are working at optimum levels and warranties are not invalidated, regular servicing and maintenance by trained professionals is required. We will inspect and change filters – both on external filtration equipment or internal appliance systems, check that the injectors are not clogged up and that any accumulated scale is removed.
In short, regular servicing will give you peace of mind that your investment is protected and that the quality of your food will not be compromised by the mineral content of your water.
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