Back Story: Cleaning Ovens With Caution

The igniters on ovens at a restaurant chain specializing in roasted chicken kept failing. One particular location called the service company four times in one month about the problem, but other nearby chain locations were experiencing igniter failure as well.

“Since several igniters had failed, we contacted the manufacturer for new ones. We wondered if they’d happened to install a bad batch,” says John Schwindt, V.P. of Hawkins Commercial Appliance Service in Englewood, Colo.

After a couple of the newly installed igniters failed, water damage became the prime suspect. Yet, when Schwindt’s service agent inspected the ovens, they were clean and dry.

“The store manager swore they never sprayed anything down,” Schwindt says. “The manager told me they didn’t even have hoses in that part of the kitchen. He wanted to call in another service company—that’s how much he doubted our diagnosis,” he recalls.

Schwindt decided to find out for himself. “I asked the facilities manager to meet me at the store at closing to check it out together. We watched as the cleaning crew brought in a garden hose and sprayer and were spraying the inside of the oven to clean it out.

“It’s a wonder the igniters lasted as long as they did,” Schwindt adds.

The next day, he invited the company’s corporate manager to meet him for a similar backdoor evening viewing.

“It took about 15 minutes of us peeking through the window,” Schwindt says. “After the manager saw the evidence, he took care of it the next day. They were a little embarrassed.”

Bottom line: Be willing to do the detective work. “Our technicians want to get your equipment fixed and keep it working. If they suspect something, it’s in your best interest to investigate early or late, whatever it takes,” Schwindt concludes. 


Copyright FER February 2014


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