Pricing

Solutions

Restaurant Types

Learn

Learn

Visit our hub to explore all types of videos, articles and resources.

Start Learning

Restaurant Equipment Maintenance: How to Maintain Restaurant Equipment Checklist

Grace JidounAuthor

Restaurant Equipment Maintenance: How to Maintain Restaurant Equipment

Whether you are brand new to restauranteur-ship or well-versed in the nuances of running a business, chances are you’re spending a lot of time and money on your kitchen equipment. Regardless of which scenario applies to you — or whether you bought new or used —  there is one area you absolutely cannot sleep on: restaurant equipment maintenance.

icon RESOURCE

Restaurant Opening Calculator

This calculator lays out some of the fundamental financial costs of opening a restaurant, so you can start planning and bring your dream restaurant to life.

Toast

The Importance of Restaurant Equipment Maintenance

Restaurants nationwide spend $28 billion on equipment repairs and maintenance and $35 billion on new equipment each year, according to a “State of Repairs” study released in 2022. High-quality equipment that is always in good working order is paramount to a successful kitchen. A malfunctioning fryer, stand mixer, or dishwasher can result in serious losses in time, money, and sanity — not to mention potential health and safety hazards. This applies to leased equipment as well, as many rental agreements require that you repair damage beyond regular wear and tear.

Restaurant equipment maintenance is often portrayed as a complicated and time-consuming task, although this is far from the truth. Sticking to a maintenance schedule and narrowing down the to-do list will ensure smooth operations and more time to perfect your crave-worthy menu. 

Here, we walk you through the process of creating an equipment maintenance checklist and provide tried-and-true tips for keeping you on track.

What to Include on a Restaurant Equipment Maintenance Checklist

Cleaning and sanitation procedures

Restaurant equipment maintenance is a game of strategy, a balancing act of things that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. At the top of your checklist should be a regular cleaning schedule customized to different equipment. The deep fryer might call for a thorough cleaning once a week, while your grill will likely need cleaning several times daily to prevent grease buildup. Cleaning is not a one-size-fits-all approach. 

Likewise, you’ll want to keep a list of the appropriate cleaning agents and tools that are used for different pieces of equipment. For instance, many espresso machines require specialty cleaners that don’t impact the flavor of the coffee; it’s the same with ice machines. If this all sounds overwhelming, a good place to start is our comprehensive Restaurant Cleaning Checklist, which provides a solid framework to build on. Of course, you can always outsource the cleaning to a reputable service

Inspection of equipment components

Next on your checklist should be a schedule for inspecting basic wear and tear, loose parts, and leaks. Commercial kitchen machinery handles a lot and can be easily damaged from such intense use. Train your employees to identify safety hazards, which should be recorded on the checklist and immediately brought to a supervisor’s attention.  

Lubrication and tightening of moving parts

To prevent frustrating (or possibly dangerous) mishaps, you’ll also want to include regular maintenance for motors, fan blades, and any other moving components. Restaurant equipment is complex, with many moving parts that can wear down or become loose with repeated use. Every so often, you’ll need to arm yourself with a screwdriver to tighten loose bolts and fasteners.

Calibration and adjustments

Kitchens are replete with scales, thermometers, and other specialty equipment that must be recalibrated at regular intervals to keep everything accurate. Pressure settings in dishwashers, gas burners, and even water pressure from the faucet should be monitored regularly. 

Evaluation of electrical and plumbing systems

Faulty wiring, frayed wires, and loose connections can lead to electrical fires in worst-case scenarios, but adding electrical connections to your maintenance checklist will hopefully prevent disaster. Plumbing leaks, clogs, and low water pressure can also throw a cog in the wheels and should be part of your routine inspections.   

Preventative maintenance tasks

Get ahead of problems and extend the life of your commercial equipment by performing preventative maintenance daily, weekly, and monthly. Your goal is to catch worn-out parts before they actually break. 

When “key pieces of equipment are down, it can place a strain on the kitchen, causing staff to fall behind. It can cause some menu items to not be prepared and others to be rushed before they are ready. Without planning and availability of parts, the equipment can be out of service for extended periods, placing further stress on restaurant staff,”  says Terry Brumback, owner of Restaurant Equipment & Supply in Decatur, Alabama. 

Things like gaskets, filters, and belts are all part of the invisible machinery that makes your kitchen tick. In a smoky kitchen filled with grease particles, air filters have supersized importance and will need to be frequently changed as well. When crafting your checklist, consult with manufacturer instructions to include recommended equipment diagnostics.  

Restaurant Equipment Maintenance Checklist

Cooking equipment

Maintain your cooking equipment, and your chefs and customers will love you. Well-cared-for tools and equipment can last for years or even decades. Bonus: keeping up with a regular maintenance schedule is an integral part of your restaurant’s cleanliness and promotes an overall pleasant ambiance.

Here are a couple of items to keep in mind: 

  • Clean ovens and grills daily, and don’t forget to inspect the burner intake to remove any obstructions.

  • For fryers, replace the oil daily and clean the grease filter so it doesn’t clog up.

  • Check for worn-out parts in kitchen appliances at least once a month and replace them promptly.

  • Inspect and calibrate all temperature and time controls on ranges and griddles every month.

  • Mixer maintenance: Stainless steel blades should be washed daily with a gentle detergent, remove debris from air vents, and wipe down the motor head.

Refrigeration equipment

There are essential steps you can do to keep things in your kitchen — and in your refrigerator and freezer — more manageable and more delicious! From saving your steaks from freezer burn to keeping herbs more tender, proper maintenance of your refrigeration equipment impacts all areas of your menu. 

Here are things to watch out for:

  • Clean and defrost walk-in coolers and freezers.

  • Check air filters for buildup that can impact airflow.

  • Monitor temperature so your food is neither too cold nor too warm.

  • Check drain tubing and pans for sludgy buildup. 

  • Freezers and refrigerators require a tight seal to maintain the proper temperature. Inspect door gaskets and hinges every quarter for defects, cracks, and tears that let air escape.  

Dishwashing equipment

There’s nothing worse than realizing your sink or dishwasher has turned into a moldy mess. Knowing how to clean it and what problems to look for makes all the difference when it comes to cleanliness and sanitation. The temperature of the dishwashing cycle, for instance, plays a key role in preventing foodborne illnesses.

Keep an eye on the following: 

  • Clean and sanitize dishwashers and sinks after every 20 cycles. 

  • Every week, delime your sinks and dishwashers to eliminate mineral deposits caused by hard water.

  • Inspect hoses and spray arms for damages every day.

  • Inspect drain lines weekly to make sure they’re clear.

  • Check water temperature and rinse pressure settings weekly. Dishes must be washed at 165°F for a stationary rack or at least 180°F for all other dishwashers to eliminate microorganisms and bacteria.

  • Check the dishwasher gaskets every month. When a gasket fails, your dishwasher will leak, so you’ll use more water, detergent, and electricity. 

Beverage equipment

Wouldn’t it be nice if all you had to do was add the water and syrups to the soda fountain machine? Beverage equipment demands attention, too, as problems like old dirty filters and off temperatures will straight-up change the flavor of the drinks you serve.

Here are some of the top areas to inspect to keep you on your soda and coffee game.

  • Clean coffee and espresso machines with machine-specific tools and cleaners that don’t impact the flavor of the drinks. Pay special attention to cleaning out the wands where milk residue can build up.  

  • On soda fountains, clean nozzles, diffusers, and ice chutes to prevent clogging, and flush out syrup lines once a month.

  • Replace water filters every six months to ensure proper filtering of mineral deposits and contaminates

  • On soda fountains, regularly check CO2 levels for adequate pressure.

  • Calibrate the temperature of coffee and soda machines every 2-3 months or more frequently if in heavy use. 

HVAC systems and ventilation

Beware the old adage: out of sight, out of mind. Though HVAC and ventilation maintenance is easy to forget, it’s crucial to a safe working environment for you and your employees.

  • Clean or replace all air filters about once a month. This will extend the life of your HVAC system and diminish fire hazards.

  • Check and adjust thermostat settings if the HVAC is mysteriously turning off or you notice a spike in an electricity bill. As a matter of course, the HVAC should have a system checkup every year.

  • Inspect ventilation hoods and greasing fan motors. 

  • Check your exhaust fan frequently for any signs of wear or damage. 

  • Belts and bearings that are worn out should be replaced, and the fan should be correctly balanced. 

  • Weekly cleaning of the hood, filters, ductwork, and fan will reduce fire risk.  

Plumbing and electrical systems

We’ll get right to the point: putting extra effort into plumbing is worth it. Backed-up toilets, leaky faucets, clogged sinks, foul odors, and dreaded mold: there are so many ways that plumbing mishaps can derail your restaurant. 

Here’s what to look for:

  • Inspect pipes and drains for leaks and clogs daily.

  • Grease traps should be cleaned at least quarterly, and the line jetting should occur once or twice a year to remove thick layers of grease from pipes that can build up and cause clogs.

  • Check bathrooms for loose or faulty handles, faucets, and other moving parts daily.

  • Check electrical connections and wiring.

  • Ensure compliance with all safety codes.

Restaurant Equipment Maintenance Tips to Keep in Mind

Consider equipment usage and workload

While sticking to a maintenance list, in general, is pretty straightforward — tick off the task when done — the specifics can get a little tricker when you factor in usage. Once you have a basic checklist, customize it to account for high-demand periods, workload intensity, and the popularity (and frequency of use) of each piece of equipment. 

Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations

Very few chefs follow recipes to a T (or at all), but this is one area where following instructions is mandatory. The tiniest burger stands to the fanciest fine dining meccas must follow local, state, and federal safety regulations or risk being fined or shut down.

Hire professionals when necessary

While regular maintenance can be handled in-house, some tasks may require a professional. But how do you know when to outsource? “The manager can determine what action is necessary to correct the issues that have been identified. A good rule of thumb is to allocate two hours for the checklist and an additional two hours for the repair of identifiable issues that would be performed by the technician,” advises Brumback.

When calling upon a professional, look for companies certified by CFESA (Commercial Food Equipment Service Association) and check online reviews from past customers. This will help ensure you’re hiring knowledgeable and skilled technicians.

Keep Records

Documenting your maintenance activities is the key to preventing disaster. The goal is to catch things early and be ready when things fail.  “The checklist offers a means for management to review recurring maintenance issues to determine which pieces of equipment are beginning to require repairs and what parts might be kept on hand for immediate replacement,” says Brumback. Keeping records “puts management in the driver's seat rather than the repair company,” he adds. What’s more, having a paper trail will help with regulatory requirements such as safety and food inspections.

***

Think of preventative maintenance as your roadmap to long-term restaurant success: It eliminates sudden repairs, keeps costs under control, increases the quality of the food, and keeps your kitchen happily humming along.

Is this article helpful?

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.