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  • John Marks

12 Days of Commercial Kitchen Maintenance: A Festive Guide

A Festive Guide


We want to infuse a spirit of celebration into the rigorous world of kitchen maintenance with a festive guide that brings together essential tasks for keeping commercial kitchens running seamlessly.


The "12 Days of Commercial Kitchen Maintenance" is here to help you maintain the highest hygiene and safety standards and elevate your customers' dining experience. And a BONUS: follow the guidelines, and you're guaranteed to prolong the lifespan of your expensive commercial kitchen equipment.


Day 1: Inspect Ventilation Hoods

Why it matters


Examining these systems sets the foundation for a safe and clean kitchen. Addressing the uppermost components first removes airborne contaminants, prevents their descent onto surfaces below, and eliminates grease buildup and fire hazards.

  • Properly functioning ventilation hoods help a commercial kitchen comply with industry regulations.

  • The ventilation system operates at peak efficiency, reducing energy consumption and extending the lifespan of your kitchen equipment.

  • Properly calibrated exhaust fans contribute to an optimised airflow, preventing unnecessary strain on the system.

Operational checklist

  • Evaluate the exterior, looking for signs of wear, damage, or accumulated grease that may compromise effectiveness.

  • Delve into the internal components, examining the filters, exhaust fans, and ductwork.

  • Cleanse and degrease all parts meticulously to prevent potential incidents.

  • Check the calibration of exhaust fans to guarantee they are operating at the recommended speed.

  • Substitute any malfunctioning lights within the hood.

  • Confirm that fire suppression systems connected to the ventilation hood are in prime working condition.


Day 2: Test All Fire Suppression Systems

Why it matters


Fire suppression systems combat flames when traditional extinguishers may fall short. Testing them is critical to commercial kitchen maintenance, as it safeguards valuable assets and maintains compliance with safety regulations.

  • Regular testing allows for early detection of minor issues or malfunctions, reducing the chance of failure during an event.

  • Regular tests keep your business compliant with local codes and can positively impact insurance premiums.

  • A tested and reliable system reduces downtime caused by fire-related incidents.


Operational checklist

  • Consult the manufacturer's specifications to understand the recommended testing frequency and procedures.

  • Contact a certified professional to ensure that the system is thoroughly examined.

  • Run a visual inspection of all components. Check for signs of damage, corrosion, or obstructions that impede proper functioning.

  • Activate the system according to the prescribed method. Check that all nozzles discharge properly, covering critical areas such as cooking equipment and exhaust hoods.

  • If the system uses a gas valve to cut off the fuel supply, verify that it operates correctly during testing.

  • If the fire suppression system is connected to an alarm, confirm it activates as planned.

  • Train kitchen staff to use the fire suppression system adequately and encourage them to report even minor issues promptly.


Day 3: Inspect Electrical Wiring and Appliances

Why it matters


Regular electrical wiring inspection helps identify frayed wires, loose connections, or damaged components. Addressing these issues as they occur prevents electrical fires or shocks, ensuring a safe working environment.

  • When electrical systems operate efficiently, you keep energy consumption low.

  • Regular inspections prevent unexpected equipment failures so your commercial kitchen can function smoothly during peak hours.

  • Regular inspections help identify and rectify any issues that may violate electrical codes, helping you avoid fines and other legal consequences.


Operational checklist

  • Examine all electrical wiring, outlets, and connected catering equipment for visible signs of damage or wear. Look for frayed wires, scorch marks, or any abnormalities.

  • Check and tighten all electrical connections, including outlets, switches, and wiring junctions.

  • Test the functionality of each electrical appliance. Pay attention to unusual sounds, sparks, or fluctuations in power.

  • Verify that all electrical appliances are properly grounded to prevent electrical shocks.

  • Examine the power cords for any signs of damage, such as exposed wires or fraying.

  • Use a voltage meter to check the voltage levels at outlets.

  • Ensure that emergency shut-off switches for electrical equipment are easily accessible and functional.

  • Inspect the electrical panel for any signs of overheating, loose wires, or tripped circuit breakers.


Day 4: Check The Refrigeration Systems

Why it matters


Regular servicing for refrigeration systems is crucial to maintain the required temperatures for food storage, preventing the growth of harmful bacteria and preserving the freshness and quality of perishable items.

  • Well-kept fridges and freezers operate more efficiently, reducing energy consumption.

  • Regular maintenance prevents food waste, with significant economic and environmental benefits.

  • A swift response to minor issues extends the lifespan of compressors, condensers, and other components.


Operational checklist

  • Use a calibrated thermometer to verify that the temperatures are within the recommended ranges for safe food storage.

  • Clean the condenser coils to remove dust and debris.

  • Inspect door seals for any signs of wear or damage.

  • If applicable, inspect and test the defrost systems in freezers.

  • Inspect evaporator fans for proper functioning.

  • Check refrigerant levels and address any leaks promptly.

  • Clean and sanitise the interior surfaces of refrigeration units to prevent mould and bacteria. Pay special attention to shelves, drawers, and storage compartments.

  • Monitor energy usage and compare it to historical data. Sudden spikes in energy consumption may indicate a problem that needs attention.

  • Listen for any unusual noises that may indicate issues with compressors, motors, or other components.


Day 5: Evaluate Plumbing Systems

Why it matters


Intact plumbing systems prevent leaks and water damage, safeguarding the structural integrity of the kitchen. Everything runs smoothly when your sinks and other fixtures operate optimally.

  • Promptly fixing leaks prevents standing water accumulation and minimises bacterial growth.

  • Properly functioning plumbing fixtures prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen.

  • Regular attention ensures that plumbing fixtures are in working order, minimising disruptions to kitchen operations.


Operational checklist

  • Inspect all plumbing fixtures, including sinks, faucets, and pipes, for any signs of leaks.

  • Unclog drains to prevent blockages that can impede water flow.

  • Check for proper water pressure and temperature control. Address any issues with faucet handles, valves, or aerators.

  • Check the joints of pipes for any signs of wear, corrosion, or loose connections. Tighten or replace connections as needed to prevent leaks.

  • If applicable, assess the performance of water heaters.

  • Confirm that backflow prevention devices are installed and functioning correctly.

  • Clean grease traps in sinks and dishwashing areas to prevent clogs and odours.


Day 6: Lubricate and Inspect Appliances

Why it matters


Regular inspections of blenders, food processors, coffee makers, and other small catering equipment confirm that each appliance operates at its optimal performance level.

  • Kitchen equipment in good condition is less likely to require costly repairs or replacements, leading to significant cost savings in the long run.

  • Efficiently operating equipment consumes less energy.

  • Routine maintenance contributes to the longevity of kitchen equipment, providing a better return on investment.


Operational checklist

  • Check all catering equipment for wear, malfunctioning heating elements, or uneven cooking.

  • Lubricate moving equipment parts such as slicers, mixers, and grinders.

  • Check emergency shut-off switches and safety interlocks.

  • Clean and sanitise all appliances after the inspection.

  • Refer to equipment manuals for specific maintenance recommendations and schedules.


Day 7: Clean and Calibrate Ovens and Cooking Equipment


Why it matters


Frequent oven inspections guarantee accurate temperature control. This consistency is crucial for achieving uniform cooking results, whether baking, roasting, or broiling.

  • Proper service and calibration of ovens contribute to cost savings and align with sustainability goals.

  • Routine inspection and cleaning contribute to the longevity of ovens.

  • When they function correctly, ovens contribute to food safety by ensuring aliments are cooked at the correct temperatures.


Operational checklist

  • Verify the accuracy of the oven's temperature by using a calibrated thermometer. Calibrate the thermostat if necessary to confirm that it accurately reflects the internal temperature.

  • Remove any built-up grease, debris, or carbon deposits.

  • Check the door seals and gaskets for any signs of wear or damage.

  • Inspect heating elements for any visible damage or signs of wear.

  • Test the functionality of oven controls, including temperature settings, timers, and any additional features.

  • Confirm that ventilation systems, such as fans and exhaust hoods, work efficiently.

  • For gas ovens, check the pilot lights.

  • Calibrate cooking equipment such as stoves, grills, and fryers to ensure accurate temperature control.

  • Review each manufacturer's guidelines to ensure you follow all the specific recommendations and schedules.


Day 8: Service Dishwashing Equipment

Why it matters


When functioning correctly, dishwashing equipment facilitates a smooth and timely cleaning process for dishes, utensils, and kitchenware, contributing to overall kitchen productivity.

  • Proper cleaning and sanitisation processes are essential for upholding hygiene standards in a commercial kitchen.

  • Dishwashing equipment maintains consistent water temperature when correctly cared for.

  • Well-functioning dishwashing equipment is less likely to incur unexpected breakdowns, reducing the need for emergency repair.

Operational checklist

  • Verify that the water temperature in the dishwashing equipment is within the recommended range for effective cleaning and sanitisation.

  • Examine spray arms and nozzles for any clogs or blockages.

  • Clean or replace filters and other components to provide even water distribution when washing.

  • Check the door seals for any signs of wear, damage, or leaks.

  • Test cycles with a load of dishes and monitor the entire washing process, including washing, rinsing, and drying phases.

  • Check drainage systems for any signs of clogs or slow drainage.

  • Lubricate moving parts, such as conveyor belts or rotating arms, to reduce friction and prevent wear.


Day 9: Deep Clean Countertops and Surfaces

Why it matters


Cleaning and sanitisation prevent the cross-contamination of food items, preventing the spread of bacteria and pathogens. This way, you make sure that prepared dishes meet high hygiene standards and are safe for consumption.

  • A clean workspace contributes to a positive and efficient work environment. It promotes a professional appearance and boosts the morale of kitchen staff.

  • Adhering to regular sanitisation practices is essential for meeting health and safety codes and regulations. Compliance helps avoid penalties, legal issues, and reputational damage.

  • Clean surfaces don't attract pests.

Operational checklist

  • Clear countertops of unnecessary items and wipe them down with a damp, clean cloth to remove loose debris and spills.

  • Select appropriate cleaning agents based on the type of countertop material (e.g., stainless steel, granite, laminate). Follow manufacturer guidelines and safety protocols.

  • Use a non-abrasive scrubbing pad or brush to remove all residue. Pay special attention to areas where food particles may accumulate, such as seams and edges.

  • After cleaning, apply a food-safe sanitiser to the surfaces. Follow the recommended contact time specified by the sanitiser manufacturer for effective disinfection.

  • Pay extra attention to high-touch areas, such as cutting boards, prep stations, and frequently used equipment surfaces.

  • Inspect countertops for cracks, chips, or damage, as they're more challenging to clean effectively.

  • Implement a colour-coded system for cleaning tools to prevent cross-contamination.

  • Check that staff follows the regular cleaning schedule for countertops and surfaces.

  • Provide additional training to kitchen staff on proper procedures so everyone understands the importance of maintaining a clean and hygienic workspace.


Day 10: Sharpen and Inspect Knives

Why it matters


Well-maintained tools are less prone to accidents as they require little force to cut, reducing the number of slips and injuries.

  • Sharp tools contribute to the consistent quality of prepared dishes.

  • Chefs and kitchen staff can work more efficiently when using tools that are in optimal condition.

Operational checklist

  • Sharpen blades using a honing rod or professional sharpening equipment.

  • Inspect tools for any damages, nicks, or rust.

  • Clean and sanitise countertop tools immediately after inspection.

  • Check storage equipment to confirm blades are correctly protected and prevent damage during storage.

  • For tools with moving parts, like can openers or grinders, apply food-grade lubricant for smooth operation.

  • Inspect the handles for any signs of damage, loose screws, or cracks.


Day 11: Review Food Safety Protocols

Why it matters


Safety protocols safeguard the health and well-being of both customers and kitchen staff. Moreover, following established protocols inside your commercial kitchen ensures compliance with local regulations and codes.

  • Customers are more likely to trust and return to a restaurant that cares about their safety.

  • Rigorous safety practices help minimise the risk of cross-contamination, preventing the spread of allergens, bacteria, and other contaminants that can compromise the safety of prepared dishes.

  • Staff members can work confidently and systematically, knowing they follow established guidelines.

Operational checklist

  • Make sure staff uses separate cutting boards, utensils, and storage containers for raw and cooked ingredients.

  • Monitor and maintain proper storage temperatures for perishable foods throughout the cooking process.

  • Review the cleaning schedule for kitchen equipment and verify that your staff follows the guidelines.

  • Train staff on safe thawing practices for frozen foods.

  • Verify the cooking temperatures of various foods using calibrated thermometers.

  • Review the protocols for properly cooling cooked foods to prevent bacterial growth.

  • Schedule regular inspections and audits for next year.

  • Review labels for allergenic ingredients and reinforce precautions to avoid cross-contact.

  • Remind kitchen staff of the established policies for reporting illnesses.


Day 12: Develop a Servicing Schedule for the New Year

Why it matters


Planned preventative maintenance helps identify and address issues before they escalate, minimising downtime and costly repairs. If you carefully craft a schedule now, everyone knows what needs to be done and when, so your employees can plan work accordingly.

  • Scheduling kitchen maintenance makes it easy to distribute activities evenly, preventing disruptions during peak business hours.

  • Future planning enables you to sign affordable maintenance agreements as a retainer client.

  • Your catering equipment operates under industry standards and local regulations.

Action steps

  • Conduct an inventory of all kitchen equipment. Identify each item's specific service needs, recommended frequencies, and manufacturer guidelines.

  • Allocate more frequent interventions to high-priority equipment to minimise disruptions.

  • Determine the appropriate service frequencies for each piece of equipment.

  • Designate specific staff members or teams to handle different maintenance aspects for accountability and efficiency.

  • Integrate training sessions into the schedule to inform staff about proper repair procedures.

  • Account for seasonal variations and factors that may impact equipment performance.

  • Explore technology solutions like maintenance management software or apps to streamline scheduling.

  • Define the budget for routine upkeep, repairs, and potential replacements.

  • Evaluate the opportunities to outsource maintenance for your commercial kitchen equipment to streamline operations and increase efficiency.

  • Keep all relevant stakeholders informed about upcoming activities, changes, or additional requirements.


Planned Preventative Maintenance Complete


As you can see, the magic lies in the details. To help you check off all the boxes on your operational checklists all year round, we have a gift that keeps giving: a Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) subscription model.


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