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Identifying Electric Cooking Equipment Elements

There are five types of elements in electric food service equipment:

1. Calrod (metal) type
2. Glass tube (quartz) type
3. Ceramic type
4. Wire type
5. Solid typeIdentifying Electric Cooking Equipment Elements

These five elements are either submersible, dry, or both.  No matter what type of element you’re trying to replace, the most important piece of information you need is the element’s manufacturer, model, and serial number.  Search for elements by manufacturer here.

When working on any piece of equipment always remember to disconnect the POWER!

Calrod elements are found in both overhead warmers and well type warmers.  The well type warmer can be a counter top or a steam table warmer.  The configuration (shape) of the elements depends on which unit they go in.  Most overhead warmers use a straight calrod or glass tube element.  Steam table elements can be many different shapes: u-bend, w-shape, s-shape, round, etc., so the best means of identification is by brand name, model and serial number.  The voltage is also very important.

Glass tube type elements have a wire element curled like a spring inside a glass tube. These elements are found in overhead warmers, cheesemelters, and some conveyor type toasters and impingers.  The best way to identify these elements is with brand name, model and serial numbers as well as voltage.

Ceramic elements are most commonly found in overhead warmers.  Although they are a rarity, the same identification method should be used, model number, serial number and voltage.

Wire type elements are usually those that are referred to as a card element.  This means the element is a thin flat wire or spring type wire that is wrapped around some type of conductive flat card.  This type of element is most commonly found in pop up or pop down toasters.  For proper identification, again having the model and serial number and the voltage is very helpful.

Solid type elements are calrod or filament elements and are incased in a block of metal or possibly ceramic.  They come in various sizes and shapes but perform just like other elements.  They can be found in warmers, toasters and even chafing dishes.  The best way to identify these elements is by brand name, model and serial number and voltage.

If you can’t find a brand name, model or serial number, there is another way to identify that element (and this goes for all elements).  Every element has information either stamped into it or stenciled on to them.  You may need a magnifying glass to read the information (especially on calrod elements).

The information you need to find on the element is:

1. Voltage
2. Wattage
3. Part number
4. Color coding

With this information, it is more likely that you will receive the correct element the first time.  Also don’t forget the style and the piece of equipment it is in.  Remember, there are many pieces of equipment that have elements, and the above information also applies to their identification.

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Repairing Countertop Warmers

Repairing Countertop WarmersSummary - Countertop warmers keep pre-cooked foods warm.  In this Tech Talk, learn how to replace all 4 components that could fail in your countertop warmer.

Critical Note – Never run the warmer without water!

For best results, use the model and serial number on your warmer to identify the right part or call 1-888-388-6372 for help.


There are only four components that can fail in these units.

1. Thermostat (infinite control, bi-metal, or thermostat with capillary)
2. Element
3. Hi-limit
4. Indicator light

Failure of any of these parts with the exception of the indicator light will cause the unit to fail.

How do I repair my warmer?  Which part do I need?

If your warmer is not working at all, begin by unplugging the unit.  Remove the bottom panel and inspect the element for burn spots.  Look for burned wires and connectors.  If the wiring and element appear fine the next step would be to check the hi-limit switch.

This will require an electrical test instrument.  You can use either a simple continuity tester or a multi-tester.

Begin by disconnecting the wires from the hi-limit switch.  Set your tester on the continuity setting and put the leads from the tester on each side of the hi-limit.  If there is continuity (a constant beep from the tester) through the high limit, then it is good.  If there is no continuity the hi limit is bad and must be replaced.

Let’s discuss the thermostat.  You have one of three types.

1. Infinite control – These usually have five to six pins coming out of the back.  To test this control, use your electrical tester.  Set it on the continuity reading.  Make sure the infinite control is turned on!  Connect one lead to H1 the other to H2.  If there is no continuity reading between H1 and H2 then the control is bad and must be replaced.

2. Bi-metal – This is an open control and you can see the contact points inside of it.  Turn the stem to see if the points open and close.  If the points do not snap together, the control is bad and must be replaced.

3. Capillary type thermostat – The last thermostat is one that has a capillary tube with a bulb at the end (attached to the control).  Follow the same procedure for testing as you would for the infinite control.

4. Last is the indicator light. If the light burns out it will not effect the operation of the unit.  It is simply there to indicate if the unit is on or off.

You can also test the element with the electrical tester set for continuity.  Remove both wires from the element and put the leads from the tester across the element connections.  If continuity exists you will hear a continuous beep from the tester.  If there is no beep, the element is bad and must be replaced.

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Replacing Gas Safety Valves

There are many different types of safety valves. These are the most common types:

  • FMDA
  • BASO
  • TS
  • Combination Type

1. The FMDA safety valve is the only type with the thermocouple permanently attached to it.  This means the thermocouple cannot be replaced; the entire safety valve must be replaced if the thermocouple fails.  The easiest way to identify an FMDA type safety is a ½” diameter red button on the bottom of the valve.  You must know the gas pipe size and if the pilot tube is an “in and out” or an “out only.”  An “in and out” safety valve has two threaded holes at the top of the part, one for gas for the pilot to come in and one for gas to go out.  An “out only” safety valve has just one threaded hole to connect gas for the pilot to.

Replacing Gas Safety Valves

FMDA Safety Valve

2. The BASO safety valve can vary in design depending on the piece of equipment it is on, so it is important to know the brand name, model and serial number of the piece of equipment to get the correct safety valve the first time.  The easiest way to identify a BASO valve is by the 15/16” diameter red pilot button.  The thermocouple is separate from the safety.

Replacing Gas Safety Valves

BASO Safety Valve

3. The TS type safety valve is the only one that can be rebuilt.  It is similar to the FMDA and BASO types in that it has “in and out” or “out only” pilot tubing, so you must know what is in your equipment.  A rebuilt kit is available in both and it is not necessary to replace the body unless it is damaged.  The body has no moving parts in it.  The easiest way to identify the TS safety is by the 5/8” diameter red button.  The thermocouple is also separate from this safety, similar to the BASO.

Replacing Gas Safety Valves

TS Type Safety Valve

4. Combination safety valves come in three different styles:

  • 120 Volt Type
  • Tubing Type
  • Millivolt Type or 24 Volt Type

A combination valve is a gas valve with the safety built into it.  Most combination valves are found in fryers.

Replacing Gas Safety Valves

Combination Safety Valve

How to determine which type you have:

  • If there are two wire leads coming out of the valve then it would be the 120 volt.
  • If the wire leads are screwed to the top terminal block, and two tubes are coming out of the top of the valve, it is the tubing type combination safety valve.
  • If the wires screw into a terminal block it would be a mulitvolt type.If you are not sure, just provide the brand name, model and serial numbers.

Every combination valve uses either a thermopile or thermocouple.  The most common is a thermopile, and there are two different thermopiles:

  • Screw-in type
  • Two-lead type

The screw-in type screws directly into the body and the two-lead type has a terminal block on the combo valve to directly screw into.

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Repairing Overhead Warmers

Repairing Overhead WarmersOverhead warmers are fairly simple devices.  They are typically used to keep food that is ready to be served warm before it goes out on the server’s tray.  Overhead warmers have three main parts:

1. Element
2. On/off switch
3. Infinite Control

Warmers come in different voltages such as 120V, 208V, and 240V, and they are made in different lengths.  Always remember that it’s crucial to have the correct voltage on the unit, because severe damage can happen when the unit is introduced to the wrong voltage.  There are two types of elements in most overhead warmers.

1. Cal-rod (metal) type
2. Quartz glass type.

These elements vary in wattage and length.  When replacing an element, it is helpful to provide the following information to ensure you get the correct element.

1. Overall length of the warmer
2. Model Number
3. Serial number
4. Voltage

This information can be found on the name tag that is attached to the warmer.

There are two ways to determine if an element is bad:

1. Visual Inspection. On the Cal-rod element, inspect the outside for burn marks.  On the quartz element, inspect the filament or wire coil inside the glass tube.  If it is separated in any way, it is burnt out.Repairing Overhead Warmers

2. Continuity Testing. A continuity tester can determine if an element is defective.  Remember to disconnect the power! For either element (cal-rod or quartz), first remove at least one wire connection or remove the element if it is a socket type.  If you have a Multi-Tester set your tester in the continuity position and touch the leads to the element.  If there is no digital read out on the display the element is no good.  If you’re using a lighted tester and the light does not light up, then the element is not good.  In either case, the element needs to be replaced.  The element is still good if you get a digital read out or the lights does light up.

Repairing Overhead WarmersOn/Off Switch

To test the on/off switch, disconnect at least one wire from the switch and perform a continuity test with the switch in the on position.  If you do not get a reading, then you need to replace the on/off switch.

Infinite Control

To test the infinite control, there are multiple wire connections on the back of the control.  These wire connections are marked as follows:  L1 and L2 are the power wires coming in the warmer.  H1 and H2 are the connections for the element wires.  On units with a pilot light there may be a HP connection or a P connection, P meaning pilot light connection.  Repairing Overhead Warmers

Disconnect at least one wire from any of the H connections and perform a continuity test across the H prongs with the control in the on position.  If you did not get a reading or light it is time to replace the infinite control.  On an infinite control make sure to determine if it is a  screw mount or nut mount before purchasing a replacement.  Screw mount controls screw into the overhead warming unit; nut mount controls bolt onto the unit.

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