Electrical problems in your restaurant’s kitchen not only can shut your service down they can be dangerous. Maintaining your electrical system and appliances is important when it comes to keeping your establishment running smoothly. With the dangers associated with electrical problems restaurant owners and managers must take the necessary steps to ensure the maintenance of all electrical equipment. In my over 25 years of experience working with restaurants, these are the most common issues restaurants owners need to keep a lookout for when it comes to electrical problems.
Get regular inspections
Hire a professional electrician once per year to inspect your electrical system and equipment. The electrician will check for damaged equipment, frayed wiring, exposed wires, power surges and any other potential electrical hazards. Once the inspection is complete the electrician will document their findings and present you with a detailed report. If any equipment or wiring need repairs or replacement take care of those issues immediately to keep your business and staff safe as well as prevent any code violations.
Train your employees
All employees need training on how to shut off power to equipment using the safety switches in the kitchen. Teach your employees what to do if a colleague receives a shock from a faulty piece of equipment. Never touch the person with bare hands until the power is shutoff. Touching the person will cause the current to transfer to the other person. Train your employees what damage to look for on equipment such as exposed wiring, loose cords, or frayed wires. Hold training sessions with employees at least every 6 months and with each new hire.
Safety cutoff switches
Always make sure you and your staff know the location of the safety cutoff switches in the kitchen. These switches prevent electricity from running to equipment in case of an emergency. Be sure all switches have labels indicating which ones cut off which appliances. Train your staff and employees on when and how to use the switches to keep everyone safe in case an electrical emergency occurs.
Be aware of potential hazards
Restaurant kitchens already have many dangerous areas within them like hot stoves, deep fryers, and ovens. Being aware of potential hazards keeps your staff safe. Once a month either yourself or a trained employee needs to check equipment for exposed wiring and frayed cords. Also be aware of any weird smells coming from electrical equipment. If you notice electrical issues with your equipment remove the machine immediately from the kitchen. Tag the machine so no one attempts to use it and have a professional repair the device or buy a replacement.
Overloading a power source can damage the electrical system by causing shorts that may cause a fire. Never plug multiple devices into one outlet or extension cord. Unplug electrical equipment when not in use. Provide multiple GFCI power points throughout the kitchen and ensure all power panels have surge protection. Extension leads and double adapters are not recommended in professional kitchens.
Keep machines away from water
Never store or use electrical equipment around water. When exposed to water or moisture, never unplug the machine with wet hands. Instead use thick rubber gloves to remove the plug. Move the equipment to a safe place and dry thoroughly allowing it to sit for a few hours so all moisture dries out.
Check extension cords
Store extension cords in a dry place away from hot surfaces, moisture buildup, walkways, chemicals, and wet areas. Never use extension cords as a permanent source of power for kitchen equipment. When handling a cord, if it feels warm or hot, this is a sign too much current is flowing through the wiring and can cause shocking or electrocution if it becomes overloaded. As soon as you notice an extension cord overheating, unplug it immediately and replace with a new one.
All worn and inoperable equipment needs removed from your restaurant. If a piece of equipment has damaged cords or exposed wiring never attempt to use it. Hire a professional electrician to repair the device or replace it all together. Never place electrical tape on exposed wiring and continue using it. Electrical tape is not a permanent fix for exposed wiring. If you notice wear and tear on your kitchen equipment, unplug the machine and call an electrician for repairs.
Working around a professional kitchen always has the potential to be dangerous. With proper training, yourself and your employees will know what to do if electrical equipment becomes damaged. This will help keep everyone safe. If you find your equipment or electrical system is malfunctioning turn off the power and call an electrician to do a thorough inspection. Never do electrical work yourself. Always leave it to a professional.
Joe Hammer is the owner of SAK Electric Plumbing Inc in Apache Junction, Arizona. SAK Electric Plumbing has been serving the Greater Phoenix are for more than 30 years.