Do you really need refrigeration maintenance? How often? Can you do it yourself? Get answers to these questions and more.
Can my staff do refrigeration maintenance tasks?
Having your cleaning crew periodically dust the coils and remove debris around refrigeration units is a great idea. Make sure they don’t use water around the electrical components!
However, you still need to have your coils cleaned and your refrigeration units tuned up periodically by a professional. We use special chemical cleaners to remove scale and buildup, and we clean parts that are dangerous for untrained maintenance staff to handle, such as the fan blade. Refrigeration techs check electrical connections, refrigerant charge, and also inspect your units for worn parts and any signs of impending trouble. You don’t want your cleaning staff handling these tasks.
How can I make sure my refrigeration equipment passes NYC’s health inspection?
Food that’s stored or held at temperatures that are too warm can make people sick and lead to serious public health issues. That’s why the NYC health department scores violations related to food temperature so severely. And it doesn’t take much for your refrigeration equipment to run too warm.
Your units accumulate lots of dust, debris, and spattered grease and food droppings. If you don’t regularly clean the coils, that buildup makes it harder for the coils to cool the unit, eventually causing the temperature inside the unit to rise.
Another common cause of temperature issues is refrigerator or freezer doors that don’t close properly. Loose or broken hinges or even grease on gaskets can cause your refrigerators to leak cool air and even suck in hot air.
Performing regular maintenance on all your refrigeration units can all but eliminate these temperature concerns. Investing in a refrigeration maintenance contract with Arista keeps your equipment in top shape, so you can be sure the food you serve is safe and meets quality standards. And you can breathe easy the next time the health inspector visits your restaurant.
How often do I need to have my ice machine cleaned?
According to FDA regulations, ice needs to be stored and handled like food, and that means ice machines need to be regularly cleaned.
Food Law 2009 Chapter 4 specifies that ice machines must be cleaned and sanitized at the frequency recommended by the manufacturer, which is generally at least 2 to 4 times per year.
Depending on your usage volume, the location of the machine, and the water conditions, you may need to clean it more often. For very heavily used units located near a cooking line, you may need to clean the machine as often as every month.
What can happen if I don’t clean my ice machine often enough?
It’s easy to overlook the risks associated with a lack of ice machine maintenance, since we don’t tend to think of ice as food. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does define ice as food.
Ice is handled by your staff and ingested by your customers, and it can spread illness just as easily as other food sources if contaminated by viruses, bacteria and mold.
If your ice is contaminated, you won’t even know it until it’s too late. Your ice could look, smell and taste just fine, but still be harboring dangerous microorganisms. And don’t forget, keeping your ice machine clean is required by federal law. If you’re found to be in violation, you could be hit with fines of up to $500,000.
Does spending the money on refrigeration maintenance really pay off?
Yes, it absolutely does! Regular inspection, cleaning and tune-ups prevent breakdowns that impact your business, prolong the life of your equipment, and even save money on energy bills.
Here’s how: When debris and deposits build up on coils, fan blades and other parts, the metal corrodes, leading to refrigerant leaks and eventually system failure. It also creates a drain on the unit, making it run constantly to reach the set temperature and using more electricity in the process. Tuning up the system regularly ensures that it runs at optimal efficiency and keeps the parts in good condition so they last longer.