Easy Does It When Cleaning Cabinets

October 1, 2020

Published: September 8, 2020
Written by Karen Alley, Contributing Editor for FERMAG

Warm, fresh bread often helps make a good first impression on diners when they walk into a restaurant. That makes the holding cabinets that help produce it essential. At one restaurant in Boston, each time employees plugged in one of their cabinets, it tripped the ground-fault circuit interrupter receptacle and wouldn’t come on. Worried about the dinner rush, the operator called Joe Warren & Sons of Norwood, Mass., for help.

“Of course, the first thing I did at the restaurant was plug the cabinet in, and it tripped the breaker right away,” says Garrett Warren, manager. “I had to go back out to the truck to get some tools to start troubleshooting, and that’s when I got lucky.”

While outside, a noise in the parking lot caused Warren to look up from his truck, and he saw a restaurant employee hosing down a different holding cabinet. “They had three units, and apparently this was how they cleaned them,” Warren says. The soaking meant the electronic controls were full of moisture, so when the employee took the cabinet back inside and plugged it into the power source, the GFCI receptacle did its job, keeping the unit from coming on.

“The operator wasn’t making a connection from the cleaning process to the [holding cabinets] not working, because it didn’t happen every time,” Warren says. “When the holding cabinets were cleaned at night, which was the typical routine, they had all night to dry out and worked fine the next day.” The problem this day came from them hosing the equipment down while the restaurant was up and running, so the controls were still wet when they wanted to use the cabinets.

Luckily, Warren caught the problem before any damage was done to the holding cabinets. Too much moisture could eventually lead to corrosion or issues with the electronic touchpad. “Rather than having to fix the equipment, I just gave a quick in-service on the proper way to clean the unit, which is to wipe it down with a damp cloth,” Warren says.


Preventing downtime in the kitchen all boils down to knowing your equipment, educating staff members on the proper use and maintenance and checking in on procedures. “Nine out of 10 times, we get called out for a problem that stems from equipment not being maintained properly,” Warren says. “Education is crucial to running an efficient restaurant.”

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