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Get non-technical restaurant equipment repair tips and advice so you can do repairs yourself and save money.

How to Troubleshoot a Sharp Microwave Oven

How to Troubleshoot a Sharp Microwave OvenMost microwave manufacturers highly recommend contacting a certified technician before doing any repairs on your microwave yourself, but there are a few things you can troubleshoot before you make a call to a repair company.

  1. Check your owner’s manual to ensure that the power cord is grounded appropriately. It should be plugged into a 3-pronged electrical outlet. Also, make sure to check fuses and circuit breaker.
  2. Pour a cup of water into a glass measuring cup and place in microwave. The water is used for two reasons: 1) you should never run a microwave while it is empty; foods and liquids help absorb the microwave energy, and 2) it will help you feel temperature differences later on.
  3. Close the microwave door and microwave the water for 1 minute. Take note if the light comes on or not. Put your hand over the back ventilation opening and note if you feel air coming out. For R-21HT, R-21HV and R-21JV models, not whether or not the “ON” indicator comes on.
  4. After the 1 minute passes, pull the glass measuring cup out of the microwave and test the temperature of the water (careful, don’t burn yourself). Note if the water is hot or not.

If the light isn’t coming on, you feel no air coming out of the ventilation opening, and/or the water isn’t warm when you test it, you may want to contact Sharp authorized repair vendor. If your microwave is still under warranty, make sure to let the vendor know.

If what you’re seeing, however, is the timing rapidly counting down, the demonstration mode may be on. To reset/cancel this, simply unplug the microwave, wait 30 seconds, and then plug it back in.

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How to Clean a Deep Fryer [Video]

Cleaning a deep-fryer can easily become one of the most dreaded chores in any kitchen – but if you clean it regularly not only will it be easier, but the fryer itself will work better and last longer. In this video lesson, Chris walks you through every step to restore your fryer to showroom quality!

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Title photo copyright James Lee

 

Transcript:

Hi, I’m Chris Tavano for Tundra Restaurant Supply and in today’s episode we’re going to show you how to properly clean and maintain your fryer. Let’s start with the basic overview of the anatomy of a fryer. First, we have our fry baskets. Next, we have our fry basket hanger. This is removable and replaceable. Before we get to the basin let’s go to the bottom, open the door. Here we have the thermostat. Next, we have the safety valve. Beside that we have the pilot switch. Above all of that are your pilot orifices that go right into your burner valves, which are into the flumes of the basin of the cavity of the fryer. Then this big one right here is our drain valve. This extra piece right here is our drain valve extension so that way it goes into a bucket. Oftentimes you’re going to need a drain valve poking rod in case some of that soot gets clogged up in there, but before we go further we’ve also got some other components up top.

Your fryer screen which is in the basin just above the burners. Then if you notice right here we have our thermostat probe and our high limit probe. These are very sensitive and fragile and we have to be careful how we clean around these probes. Before you start doing any kind of cleaning on your fryer be sure that you’re equipped with the proper safety gear and equipment. Let’s do a run down. First, I got my nice trusty goggles for any kind of splash back or chemicals that get in your eyes, very key. Next, I got some nice Nitrile gloves to keep you from, again, some of those chemicals that boil out. Again, it protects you from the heat. Again, that oil in that basin’s still going to be very, very hot. Next, I got my burn guard apron. Again, to prevent from any kind of splash back of hot oil or grease getting onto my skin.

First, we have our drain valve extension. Next, we have a fryer coil brush to get in between your burners and deep down in that basin. Next, we have a basic scrub brush to get anything on the surface. Next, we have our drain valve poking rod in case it ever gets clogged in that drain. Last but not least, we have a nice thick walled stock pot to catch the hot oil once we drain it. Be sure that you don’t use anything like aluminum or definitely not plastic. That oil’s still going to be very hot and it’s going to melt. Be sure you’re using something thick and sturdy. All right, right before you’re about to drain and clean your fryer you’re going to want to make sure you turn the thermostat in the off position. You do not want these burners going as you’re trying to drain and clean this unit.

Once you turn off the thermostat this is also a great moment to go get your supplies and equipment for the cleaning and the draining process. The nice thing about that is it’s going to give the unit and the oil about fifteen, twenty minutes to start cooling down but it’s not going to get so cold to where the oil coagulates and is kind of difficult to drain through the assembly. Next, you’re going to want to put on your drain valve extension. Be sure that you have the opening facing down into your receptacle. Next, we can place our stock pot right underneath that and then very slowly we’re ready to start draining. Slowly start opening the valve. You’re going to see the flow starting to increase. Keep your hand on the valve control because this is a great way to control the flow of the oil so that way it just doesn’t dump out and splash hot oil all over you. Again, that is why we have the safety equipment though.

Once your old oil is done draining you can go ahead and close the valve. Then we can go ahead and remove our vessel to be discarded with our old oil or recycled. Now we can start scrubbing up top. The most important and critical part to cleaning the basin of your fryer unit is keeping in mind of these thermostatic probes. These are very fragile and very sensitive and if they get banged around too much they can easily break and then there’s bigger concerns and issues to deal with on your fryer unit. We’re going to grab our fryer coil cleaning brush and just be sure that you’re going down in between these flumes and giving a nice good scrub. Another good thing is this coil has an L, like a little elbow, so that way you can get underneath your burners and get the bottom edge of those as well. Again, when you go in the middle of this one, very, very careful that you don’t get too close to these probes.

Once you’ve got your burner flumes scrubbed off pretty well without banging around your probes we can go ahead and get our other brush to help scrub off other components, other areas of the basin. Keep in mind there may be some residual grease left on the walls and the bottom of the basin of the fryer unit. However, that’s actually a good thing because it acts as a lubricant to help scrub some of those more difficult areas. Now that we’ve scrubbed most of the residual residue away from the basin we’re ready to boil out the basin and get it extra clean. Two ways to do that, you can get fryer pucks or you can use your common grill degreaser. First thing first, be sure that your valve is closed and then we’re going to fill the basin halfway with hot water. Once it’s filled with hot water you can throw in one fryer boil out puck or you can add approximately one cup of your common degreaser that would fill approximately eight gallons of hot water.

Once that’s full go ahead and throw your thermostat up to three hundred and fifty degrees, and we’re going to want to boil that solution for about fifteen to twenty minutes. Once you’ve boiled that solution for about fifteen, twenty minutes be sure you turn your thermostat off and then now we can proceed to drain that solution like we did the hot oil from earlier. Once you’ve drained all your cleaning solution you’re going to want to be sure that you rinse out the basin one last time with just clean water to be sure there’s no residual chemicals before you put in your new batch of fryer grease. What you want to do is just keep your drain open and start rinsing it out with hot water, whether it comes from your hose or a giant bucket, and you can go ahead and just let it drain onto the floor drain or you can drain it into a basin, or a vessel, or a receptacle and discard into your basin sink.

Again, you can just let it go right on the floor and right into your floor drain. I’m Chris Tavano for Tundra Restaurant Supply, and that’s how you properly and safely clean your fryer. If you have any further questions please comment below or call our sales floor directly, and please subscribe.

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How Refrigeration Thermostats/Cold Controls Work

How Refrigeration Thermostats/Cold Controls Work

The first step to understanding how refrigeration thermostats (aka cold controls) work is to understand a counter-intuitive fact about refrigeration physics:
Cooling is achieved by sensing and removing warm air, not by adding cool air.

A thermometer, then, measures how much heat is present. If the heat level reaches a certain, um, level, the refrigeration mechanism kicks, and the refrigerant starts its trip through a maze of intestine-like coils, and the warm air is removed.

That’s the big picture, anyway. Let’s dive in and explore the process in greater detail.

A refrigerator thermostat/cold control is basically the brains of the refrigerator cooling system—it runs the show.

Thermostats are typically found inside the refrigerator and have a knob that allows users to adjust the temperature setting. Once a user sets the desired temperature, the thermostat maintains that temperature by controlling the flow of electricity to the compressor. If the thermostat is the brain, the compressor is the heart of the operation, responsible for pumping the refrigerant through the coils.

When the air inside the refrigerator is at the desired temperature, the thermostat stops the flow of electricity to the compressor. When the thermostat senses too much heat, it allows electricity to flow, activating the compressor.

How does the thermostat control the electricity, you ask?

In most commercial refrigerators, the thermostat has a capillary tube filled with gas. As the temperature in the fridge increases, the gas expands and pushes on a diaphragm, which operates a set of contacts which in turn operates the compressor.

Pretty cool, huh?

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Tundra’s Toolbox: Putting the ROI in DIY

Tundra’s Toolbox: Putting the ROI in DIY

Here’s a lesson we’ve learned about the restaurant and food service business:

The more stuff you can fix on your own, without having to hire pricey contractors, the more money you can save. And when you save money, you feel good. Fix stuff, feel good. Rinse and repeat.

Fortunately, food service professionals are already a handy lot. We’re used to solving problems and getting things done. What’s more, we use “tools” to ply our trade every day.

But if you’re going to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself, you’re going to need the right tools for the job, and that’s where we can help you. (You didn’t know Tundra carried tools? Yes, yes we do!)

Tundra’s toolbox features high-quality wares from brands like Alfa, Commercial, CHG, Winco and others. Whether you need a basic item like an adjustable wrench or a specialty piece like a cutting board refinishing tool, we’ve got you covered.

And for those of you just getting started, our tool collections, such as this 27-piece kit, will help you tackle all but the most challenging DIY projects.

If you’re brave enough to troubleshoot electrical and gas issues, we even have a couple of helpful books to guide your efforts.

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How to Clean a Commercial Griddle

How to Clean a Commercial Griddle

If you ask 10 professional chefs how to clean a commercial griddle, you’re likely to get 10 different answers.

There are several ways to skin the proverbial cat.

While cleaning methods and materials may differ from chef to chef, the goal is universal: a clean, sanitary griddle that allows for efficient cooking and delicious, unadulterated food.

What You’ll Need

It usually takes 5-10 minutes to properly clean a grill.

Directions

  • While the griddle is hot, pour 1 cup of cooking oil (you can use fryer oil) onto the griddle surface.
  • Scrub the griddle surface with a griddle brick/pumice stone, making small concentric circles—Miyagi style—until the surface is clean.
  • Scrape the oil into the grease trough and discard. Turn the griddle off.
  • Pour (carefully) 1 cup of club soda/seltzer water onto the still-hot griddle. The carbonation helps loosen and lift stubborn grease.
  • Scrub the griddle surface with your griddle brick/pumice stone, making small concentric circles until the surface is clean. Scrape remaining liquid into the trough for discarding.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of vinegar onto the griddle surface, spreading liquid out evenly across the entire surface and not allowing the vinegar to pool.
  • Rub the griddle surface with a rag, making small concentric circles until the surface is polished.
  • Scrape the vinegar into your grease trough and discard.
  • Rub the surface with a rag soaked in cooking oil to polish and reseason the steel.
  • Bask in the warm glow of your newly cleaned griddle.

“How Often Should I Clean My Commercial Griddle?”

If your griddle sees heavy daily use, we advise cleaning it daily. This will prevent flavor transfer, efficiency loss and unsightly burnt-oil-flake contamination.

Shop griddle supplies at eTundra.com:

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DIY Restaurant Equipment Repair

DIY Restaurant Equipment Repair

In General

There are many maintenance tasks that can safely be performed by restaurant owners that would save a substantial amount of money on service calls. Here are some of the things restaurant owners can do to keep service calls to a minimum.

Knowledge of a Technician

You might be surprised to find that many service technicians that routinely charge well over $100 a hour, have only a high school education… or less.  I don’t say this to displace anyone’s profession, but yet to inform the general public.

It’s not formal education that helps most technicians stand out from others, but years of experience that makes them experts.  The vast majority of technicians learned from other technicians or attended a community college program to attain enough knowledge to work as a technician on restaurant equipment.  Some have also attended a specialty course to be able to work with refrigerant (freon), but nonetheless, most learn by doing, and the longer they have been working in the field, the more they know.

Maybe you can do it yourself.

I have no way of knowing how “mechanically inclined” you or your staff may be, but I can tell you from experience that not everyone is.  With that said, most of the information you need you already have (or should have) in the form of the manual that came with the equipment. I know it’s a boring read, but you should read through these manuals when you receive any new piece of equipment. Some are just installation guides that will offer almost none of the information you need, but the user’s guide, on the other hand, can have a lot of very useful information – especially when it comes to equipment repair.

Most companies offer an additional manual that may (or may not) come with the equipment, and are full of good information that is useful in maintaining equipment – they are often called a “service manual” or “parts and service manual.” Most of the time you can download a copy free of charge from the manufacturer’s website. This is the most useful manual you can own for the repair of a piece of equipment. It will have a parts breakdown that will show you drawings of every part and how those parts fit together. Often it will have a troubleshooting section that will identify a specific problem and give you possible remedies to fix it.

I know of only two books available on restaurant equipment. These books were written years ago by a guy named Don Walker and are dated, but I still keep a copy of both.  He gives great general information that is timeless and does it in a somewhat humorous way.  One book covers gas equipment repair and the other one is about electric equipment.  If you are going to work on restaurant equipment, I suggest you buy one or both of these books.

DIY Restaurant Equipment Repair DIY Restaurant Equipment Repair

The last way to become informed on your specific equipment is by the use of the technical service line almost all manufacturers offer. I list this last because these lines are set up for service personnel, but I can tell you from experience that as an owner or manager you will not be turned away if you call. If it is a good company, the person you speak with will have worked on that piece of equipment before, and will know enough about it to understand what you are trying to explain, even if you don’t know the technical terms to use.

If you call, you will need the model number and serial number along with any other information you can get off the equipment. It is helpful to have a parts breakdown (drawing) of the equipment in front of you, so you can see what the various parts look like and be able to call a part by name. You should also be able to explain to the technician on the other end of the line what the machine is doing (or not doing). You can usually find an 800 number for tech service on the manual or by using the contact us section of the company’s website.

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Know-How from the Guys Who Know How

Tundra Restaurant Supply has been in the business of pleasing customers and sharing industry knowledge for almost 20 years. From the sales floor to your kitchen, our team of technicians and know-how gurus are here to make sure your restaurant equipment works properly, is installed correctly, and gets fixed when something fails.

Kevin Nakata, inside sales and technical support, has been with the company for nearly 3 years and frequently helps customers troubleshoot problems. Sharing some technician insight, Kevin has highlighted a handful of valuable products every restaurant can benefit from buying.

Know How from the Guys Who Know How

Kevin Nakata – Inside Sales and Technical Support

What are 5 products service technicians use regularly?

  1. Seat Washers (faucet part) – “Over time seat washers go bad, and this is the main reason for most faucet drips. Techs purchase seat washers because when you have a faucet that drips a seat washer usually takes care of the problem.”
  2. Silicone Sealant –“ Silicone Sealant is used to fill holes in walls or reseal around sinks and toilets. Techs also use silicone as filler in walls instead of spackle. Since silicone comes in a wide variety of colors and you can match it to walls easily techs don’t have to sand and paint the wall. You can use it on sinks to keep the mold from getting behind the sink and for keeping other debris from getting in to the cracks and causing bacteria growth. The reason they use it on toilets is to keep the sewer gases where they need to be. Nothing smells worse than the smell of sewer when you are trying to eat or use the bathroom.”
  3. Thermocouples – “This is the fix-all when a pilot light does not stay lit. Nine out of ten times when a pilot light does not stay lit the thermocouple is bad.”
  4. Faucet Parts – “Techs keep these on hand for the simple reason a faucet is easy to repair and it only takes 30 minutes or less to fix any faucet problem.”
  5. Pilots and Pilot Valves – “These parts are the most commonly used parts for gas range tops. Techs keep these on hand simply because pilot heads and valves go bad after time due to food debris getting to these pieces which causes them to clog. It’s easier to replace a bad pilot than trying to unclog one.”

Each of these technician go-to products can be purchased for less than $50, in some cases less than $1, and save you a ton of time and money. Calling in a technician to fix a small leak or a clogged valve automatically costs you big bucks, and you may be getting charged an hour’s wage for a 15 minute fix. Stock up on some technician essentials and be ready for that leak or clog. It’s smart to keep a tool kit on-site, and adding a few extras like faucet parts and seat washers help complete your kit.

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Troubleshooting Commercial Refrigeration Problems

Keeping product out of the danger zone and ready for preparation on the line is one of the most important tasks facing any commercial kitchen, and your Troubleshooting Commercial Refrigeration Problemscommercial refrigeration units play a critical role.

Maintaining and fixing the refrigeration units in your restaurant can be expensive, which is why it’s all the more important for you to be able to fix common issues that come up quickly without wasting a lot of time waiting for help.

Here’s a list of common commercial refrigeration issues and how to address them:

Did this troubleshooting guide help you?  Is there something that we missed here that will help others?  Leave a comment below and share your experiences fixing commercial refrigerators!

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When Restaurant Equipment Goes Down: 10 Ways To Save

When Restaurant Equipment Goes Down: 10 Ways To SaveKeeping your commercial kitchen humming along is not always an easy proposition.  You use this equipment every day, and sooner or later something is going to give out on you.  If the next step you’re used to taking is picking up the phone to call your service tech, this post is for you.

That’s because if you have the right tools and a little basic knowledge, you can handle the most common equipment failures yourself on everything from ranges to fryers to overhead warmers to faucets.  We’ve written several great guides to help you fix your restaurant equipment yourself.

Check out these posts, and if you have any questions about fixing equipment, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you with and answer!

1.  How To Fix Countertop Warmers

2.  How To Replace Door Gaskets on Refrigeration Equipment

3.  Identifying and Replacing Electric Thermostats

4.  Identifying Commercial Faucets and Parts

5.  Replacing Gas Safety Valves

6.  Converting Gas Equipment In 5 Simple Steps

7.  Can You Trust Generic Restaurant Equipment Parts?

8.  Fixing Commercial Fryers

9.  Fixing Commercial Ovens

10.  Fixing Gas Ranges

Being able to handle minor equipment repairs will not only save you money, it will also reduce your downtime, meaning your busy kitchen won’t miss a beat.  Half the battle is having the skills to replace parts.  The other half is being able to get parts fast.  Go here for a complete inventory of restaurant equipment parts.

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4 Strategies For Better Commercial Refrigeration Efficiency

4 Strategies For Better Commercial Refrigeration EfficiencyNow that we are entering the hottest time of the year, it’s a good time to examine the commercial refrigeration units in your restaurant and make sure they are operating as efficiently as possible.  No matter what you do, you’re going to end up spending more money on refrigeration this time of year than any other.  However, that doesn’t mean you should have to spend any more than absolutely necessary.

Have you optimized your commercial refrigeration efficiency?  Doing so can save you a LOT of money.  Here’s the main areas you should focus on:

Clean those coils! You’ve probably heard it before but if you haven’t gotten behind your refrigerators and freezers and cleaned off the coils, you need to hear it again.  The condenser and evaporator coils take the heat inside your refrigerator and disperse it outside the unit, and if air can’t pass over the coils, then they radiate heat much more slowly.  That makes your unit work harder to keep things cool and it consumes more electricity.

Replace worn or torn door gaskets. The door gasket forms a seal when the unit’s door is closed, preventing cold air from seeping out and warm air from seeping in.  If that gasket isn’t sealing properly, it’s costing you money.  Health inspectors also don’t like torn gaskets because food bits and grime gather in them and create a breeding ground for bacteria.  Luckily, replacing the gasket is an easy process.

Turn off door heaters. All this heater does is prevent frost from building up on the inside door of your refrigeration unit.  Most units don’t even have a frost problem, and so the heater just uses up energy.  If you do have a problem with frost buildup or have water pooling in front of the unit, then you absolutely must have the door heater on.  More often than not, however, it’s not an issue.4 Strategies For Better Commercial Refrigeration Efficiency

Outfit your walk-in. Strip curtains help drastically reduce the loss of cold air when the door to your walk-in is open, and when it’s closed, the curtain adds an extra layer of insulation.  Also make sure the door latch is working properly and actually catching when you close the door.  A worn or broken latch means the door gasket isn’t fully sealed, and you’re losing cold air.  Also use a door closer to automatically pull the walk-in door shut quickly after it’s opened.  The less cold air you lose, the better off you’ll be.

It’s amazing how much in energy savings you can realize from a few simple steps.  Of course, there will always be a point where you cannot optimize your refrigeration equipment any more, and natural degradation in performance will occur no matter what you do.  When the time comes to buy a new commercial refrigerator or freezer, buy an Energy Star rated model if at all possible.  Even if you can’t find an Energy Star unit that works for you, simply upgrading to a new unit will mean better efficiency because new technologies are being added to commercial refrigeration units all the time, and a new unit will perform better simply because it’s newer.

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