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The Ultimate Guide to Decommissioning Your Commercial Kitchen

If you’ve had to shut your doors until the COVID-19 pandemic is over, we know that this must be a troubled time but hope that you have plenty of plans for when you can re-open. In the meantime, you might want to consider: Have you decommissioned all your commercial kitchen equipment and refrigeration correctly?

It’s important so that you prolong the on-going life of your equipment and ensure it’ll be safe to use when it’s time to start back-up.

With a lot of extensive knowledge we have gained supporting some of the most well renowned commercial kitchens, and with help from the Foodservice Equipment Association, we’ve put together this ultimate guide.

For some smaller appliances, it is self-explanatory (a good clean, switch-off, then unplug), so we’ve concentrated on larger pieces of equipment where there is lots to consider.

It’s important to remember that some manufacturers may suggest different procedures, so if in doubt consult the manual or contact us and we’ll be happy to provide our complementary expertise during this time.

Have we missed anything, or do you need any more information? Let us know and we’ll add it into the Guide.

Cooking Equipment – An Overview

As a general rule, before decommissioning ensure all catering equipment is thoroughly cleaned, degreased and protected from dust, such as wrapping in cling film. If it wasn’t possible to service the equipment before being turned off, then it is recommended to have a service before you turn back on, to ensure controls are suitably greased/oiled. Gas valves can dry out after prolonged periods of no use and could leak gas if not serviced.

For machines with built-in wash systems, try and run a clean on a regular basis and for machines with back-up batteries, you might want to run for approximately 30 minutes on a weekly basis to keep charge; only if it’s safe to do so.

And for anything with water softeners or filters, try and flush through on a regular basis.

Gas Fired Equipment

Does your kitchen have a gas interlock system? If so, it should be safe to leave. That’s because if the extraction is off the electric solenoid valve would have closed and isolated the gas supply into the kitchen.

If not, or to be 100% sure, you can close off the manual isolation valve where the gas pipe enters the kitchen by turning to “off”.

Electric Equipment

To isolate all electrical equipment, either unplug or turn off at the isolator switch. If it uses a standard 3-pin 13-amp plug and socket, turn off at the switch and unplug fully.

It is advised to keep some equipment like fly killers turned on permanently, so we don’t recommend isolating the entire kitchen at the distribution board.

Combi-Ovens – Gas & Electric

These types of units really do vary, so we strongly recommend referring to individual manufacturers’ manuals or contacting us to discuss further. The following acts as an outline guide.

The best way to start is run the longest clean cycle to deep clean the cooking chamber, even if you regularly or have already run any auto-clean function. Ensure you thoroughly check the oven for any left-over foodstuffs by removing any easily accessible fan guards. Then ensure the door seal is clean and dry.

If it is a combi-steamer with a boiler make sure that that the boiler is emptied.  Some ovens may retain some water in the boiler so a suitably experienced person is require to remove drain down “plug” to fully empty. You may find in the menu it has a function to flush the boiler.

If it has an internal dosing system, try and purge any other chemicals left in the cleaning chemical tubes back into the chemical container to prevent them congealing. Remember to use the correct PPE!

Then turn off and isolate the electrical or gas supply, not forgetting the water supply. Once you’ve isolated the water run the hand shower, if it has one, until it’ empty.

Give the outside a good clean, dry the machine as thoroughly as possible and leave the door slightly open to allow air to circulate.

Remember the acronym P.E.C.D.I.A:

Plan, Empty, Clean, Drain, Isolate, Ajar

Oven Ranges – Gas & Electric

Start with a thorough clean of the entire unit, including the oven chamber, pan stands, burners, racks and so on. Do not use excessive water or chemicals so as not to damage the unit or block any of the burners.

Ensure the unit is thoroughly dried and again any cast iron parts are coated in a light covering of vegetable oil to prevent rust.

After cleaning, make sure everything is thoroughly dried, the unit is isolated from the gas or electric and doors are left open to allow air to circulate.

Chargrills & Salamanders – Gas & Electric

Ensure that the gas or electric is safely isolated, ideally at the nearest isolation point. Remove any components that you confidently can, such as top grates and heat deflectors and give the unit a thorough clean.

Try and coat any cast iron parts in vegetable oil to prevent corrosion.

Combi-Microwaves

Unplugging or isolating at the mains should suffice, followed by a good clean, application of an oven protector and leaving the door open.

Fryers

Ensure fryers are thoroughly drained and cleaned. If it’s stainless steel, it should be ok to leave it. If it is mild steel, lightly cover the tank with vegetable oil to prevent rust. The same applies to griddle plates, baskets etc.

Put in place any covers or again wrap in cling film to protect from dust.

Still not sure how to decommission correctly?

Warewashing – An Overview

This is one of the most complex categories of commercial kitchen equipment to decommission because they all vary so much, from dishwashers to glasswashers, under counter units, pass-throughs and rack and conveyor products.

Ultimately you will be aiming to prevent the build-up of biofilm and other bacteria.

We hope that the following covers most machine types although it’s always worth consulting the manual, manufacturer or contacting us to discuss the appropriate decommissioning measures.

Dishwashers, Glasswashers including hood type and rack and conveyor

Firstly, ensure the inside of the machine is cleaned thoroughly either through a manual clean or by running a hygiene cycle if applicable.

Remove the wash/power arms (or cassette if fitted), tank filter covers and drain filters on all tanks. Give them a good rinse and clean by removing any debris. Then set them aside to drain and dry.

If the machine has an internal dosing system, purge all the chemical lines with water, following the correct safety guidelines and using the correct PPE.

If the machine also has an internal softener, ensure this is topped up and ensure any salt debris is flushed away to prevent corrosion.

Remove any other filters, give them a clean and put them back in place, then drain the machine. Also give the outside of the machine a thorough clean. Ensure the inside of the machine is thoroughly dried too.

If possible, leave the door slightly ajar to allow air to circulate as it will likely prevent the likelihood of bacteria growth. However, consider if it is likely to be exposed to dust, insects, pests, etc you might want to consider shutting the door. If it is a rack and conveyor product, consider blocking the entry and exit openings with a suitable sheet material.

Lastly turn off the water and electrical supply.

You might want to consider running the machine on a weekly basis.

Refrigeration, Freezers & Cold Rooms – An Overview

Refrigeration equipment needs to be treated with the utmost care. Not just because it stores raw food ingredients but because of the complex nature of the equipment, particularly with regard to remote pack systems.

You will also need to be careful with the switch back-on or start-up procedure of refrigeration equipment and consider a preventive maintenance procedure to ensure that it is working correctly.

Don’t forget to decommission refrigerated drawers as part of cooking suite or ranges.

Refrigerators

It goes without saying that you need to remove all food and packaging. If you haven’t done so consider donating this to a foodbank or other local community charity.

Carry out any manual defrost procedure if available or known, otherwise disconnect or isolate from the power-supply.

The most important thing is to clean the refrigerator thoroughly, including any seals and gaskets around the door. Only use water and non-abrasive neutral detergents with a sponge or cloth. Don’t saturate the cloth or sponge.

Once everything is cleaned, ensure it is dried thoroughly and then leave the door ajar to allow air to circulate and prevent the build-up of unpleasant odours.

Cold Rooms

For cold rooms it is worth consulting with your facilities manager or catering equipment service company because the condensing unit will need to be isolated.

The clean down process will be the same for refrigerators, however ensure you clean the floors, ceilings and walls, as well as any shelving.

Remove and clean any door strip curtains and leave off, placing on shelving to allow air flow into the cold room.

It’s a good opportunity to ensure the door safety release is working correctly, then just leave the door slightly ajar to allow airflow.

The process for refrigerators, freezers and cold rooms is generally the same.

Freezers

Depending on how long the freezer is going to be out of use, you could consider leaving plugged in and then reviewing the condition of the food stuffs upon your return.

If you decide to decommission your commercial freezer, the process will be exactly the same as your refrigerator.

If however you decide to leave switched on and food in the freezer, make sure food is stacked with spaces between each shelf and nothing is on the floor as this will allow with air flow and ensure it remains as efficient as possible.

Refrigerator Condenser

The condenser is an important part of the refrigeration system. The condenser will work less efficiently if it is obstructed with any objects, therefore, you should try and clean it at least once per month.

Now may therefore be a good time to consider a clean of the condenser, however, it is recommended this is carried out by a competent person so contact us if you have any concerns.

If you need further assistance just get in touch

Ice Machines – An Overview

Remove any ice from the storage bin. For dispensers, press the button until no ice is dispensed.

The next step is to drain the machine.

For AC/EC self-contained ‘cubers’ remove the spring and plastic cap inside the storage bin to empty the internal water tank. Larger units and dispenser/flaker units would require a competent person to this correctly to prevent damage to the machine. Contact us if you have any queries.

You need to allow the icemaker to drain any water away and pour a mug full of sanitising solution down the drain of the unit or storage bin.

Wipe around the inside of any storage bin with sanitiser wipes/cloth.

Finally, remove the water filter from the fitting, tip away any water and re-fit.

Turn off and then isolate the machine from both the water and electrical supply.

What else should I consider when decommissioning my commercial kitchen?

If you need more information to cover appliances such as mixers or blenders and more major equipment such as extraction or drainage, the Foodservice Equipment Association put together an even more comprehensive document called the “FEA Equipment and Systems Preservation Guidance”. We have a copy we can send to you, so complete the form below and we’ll send it via email.

And need help with any decommissioning, preventive maintenance or servicing? Contact us using the form below and we’ll get straight back to you.

Need help with decommissioning your kitchen? Get in touch...