March 2007 Edition
Spring Cleaning Be Proactive With Restaurant Maintenance

Spring Cleaning

Be Proactive with Restaurant Maintenance


By Michelle Ponto


Seasonal maintenance such as spring cleaning is essential when it comes to keeping a restaurant up to standards.  This is not only for esthetic reasons, but

for health and safety reasons as well.


Preventing Fire Hazards with Seasonal Inspections


It’s not what you see in your kitchen that can cause fires, but what you can’t see.  Restaurants and food service facilities are required by local inspection departments and many insurance companies to ensure exhaust systems are cleaned seasonally.


Grease builds up in these areas and can lead to a flash fire in your hood and ducts.  A quarterly or semi-annual cleaning of these areas not only reduces the risk of fire, but can help you save money.  A clean and grease-free exhaust system operates more efficiently to eliminate heat, odours and smoke from the area, and doesn’t need

to run as intensely to complete the same amount of work.


Many hood and exhaust cleaning professionals work overnight, so your regular schedule won’t be disrupted and your restaurant won’t suffer any downtime. Plus, the experts know what is needed and can ensure the system will pass fire and insurance inspection while meeting all building codes.


A professional company will also remove, clean and inspect your fan for loose or worn belts, secure electrical connections and check your fan blades for excessive wear.


Natural Gas Maintenance


If you use natural gas in your facility, having a heating contractor perform a maintenance check-up regularly can ensure your equipment and ventilation system is operating efficiently and safely.  Adjustments, cleaning of burners, replacement of parts, repairs and inspections of venting are jobs for licensed professionals who know the equipment and the codes that must be followed. 


When calling for an inspection, ensure that the service provider uses licensed gas technicians to do the actual safety inspection and ask for the gas technicians’ provincial registration number.


Double-Checking the Basics


After every season, it’s always a good idea to double-check the basics. Are your fire extinguishers up to standard?  Are the first aid kits stocked and located in the right areas?  These items are often utilized throughout the year and need to be replaced regularly.


While going through your seasonal maintenance, don’t forget about your employees.  Your seasonal plan should include them by making sure all new employees have completed their operational and first aid training as well as any other requirements.


Maintaining Existing Assets


Seasonal maintenance tests on all existing equipment includes checking the temperature of the oven, cleaning and vacuuming the coils of the refrigerator and checking wiring throughout the facility. 


Maintenance can also include ensuring the parking area is well lit, garbage bins are conveniently located and the delivery area is clean and accessible.  The dining area may also need an overhaul.  Water damage or leaks may have occurred over the winter months and floors may need to be refinished. 


An often overlooked chore is to take down the draperies and blinds and have them washed or cleaned. Not only will this enhance the esthetics of the room, but because window coverings collect dust, mould and odours, it will help eliminate air driven contaminates.


Also keep in mind that building codes are always changing and your facility may need to be adjusted to meet new regulations.  Double-check smoking by-laws, handicap accessibility and even the number of occupants allowed in the restaurant.  Rules vary by province so ensure you contact your local agency.


One Last Area of Seasonal Maintenance….


While you’re busy cleaning and fixing the facility don’t forget about the kitchen and storage areas.  Make sure that storage bins seal tightly and are located in a way that optimizes space and efficiency. 


Store the heavier bins on the floor or bottom shelves to reduce the risk of injury to your employees, while lighter or less used bins can be stored in higher areas. Also, this

is a good time to ensure all storage items are labeled correctly.  Throw out anything that is questionable or out-dated.  You may also want to check for pests. Mice and other rodents make their way inside regardless of the season. Have your pest control technican check and replace traps.


Seasonal Checklist

 Have all your employees completed first aid training and equipment training?

 Has your building and equipment undergone an

in-depth cleaning? Have the carpets and curtains

been cleaned?  Have pavement cracks been filled?

 Are all your necessary licences (such as business licence, liquor licence, wild game licence etc.) updated?

 Have you had your fire extinguishers checked and tested with a certified dealer?

 Has a health inspector visited your facility and have you provided the City with a copy of the health inspector’s report? (Check with your municipality for local guidelines)

 Have you completed all necessary routine maintenance? (For example, clearing plumbing traps as well as basic check-ups for all equipment, building and grounds)