The Most Common Catering Equipment Faults – and How to Avoid Them

Catering equipment after frequent use will inevitably incur a fault. However, you can minimise damage and prolong its life with our helpful tips.


As all food and catering industry professionals will know, the success of a kitchen depends, in part, on the functionality of their equipment. In order to consistently deliver high-quality food to customers, it’s essential that equipment performs effectively.

Sadly, this isn’t always the case. Even top of the range systems can experience issues, and we have listed the most common equipment faults with catering equipment below as well as how to avoid them.


Common Equipment Faults

1- Ovens overheating

Ovens are one of the most essential pieces of equipment in a commercial setting, there are many types of ovens available for the commercial catering industry, the most common being the conventional 6 burner oven range and the newer more technologically advanced, combination oven. The most common faults we find on 6 burner ranges are worn oven door seals, these wear over time and if not replaced will lead to an inefficient cooking process. Another common fault is blocked injectors from food debris and carbon build up. Combination ovens are a more advanced oven with many electrical components. The main faults found on these ovens are dirty and blocked air filters located near the main PCB. Overheating and damage to the PCB will result in a costly repair. Door seals on combination ovens also perish and wear over time due to the different environments they are subject to, split door seals can lead to un even cooking and production of sub-quality food. Steam escapes from split seals result in leaks and inefficient cooking.


2- Refrigeration issues

Another essential part of kitchen operations, fridges and freezers can also suffer from the gradual build-up of dirt and grease. Dirty condensers and blocked circulation vents can interfere with cool temperatures, reducing efficiency and even compromising customers, as food could become unsafe to cook or sell.


3- Inadequate extraction & ventilation

Not only can your catering appliances gather grease and debris, but your extraction and ventilation systems can suffer too. When air cannot filter through the system effectively, it not only leads to an uncomfortable working environment for staff, but can lead to the contamination of food. Grease build-up in your extraction system also creates a much greater risk of fire hazards, as it is extremely flammable, and if the system isn’t extracting gasses correctly, it puts the health of staff and customers at risk.


4- Blocked dishwashers

When your commercial dishwasher isn’t cleaning properly, it can be extremely frustrating, and lead to unnecessary delays. Typically, this is due to blocked pressure chambers, backed up drains or malfunctioning drain valve.


5- Underperforming deep fryers

As with the equipment listed above, the breakdown of your deep fryer , gas or electric, can slow down food preparation, losing precious time and money. This could be caused by a faulty thermostat, worn burners as well as blocked pilot assemblies.



Avoiding equipment faults

Research from BRITA Professional found that in 2020, kitchen professionals dealt with 84 days of equipment breakdowns, with almost two thirds (61%) having to manage equipment breakdowns on at least a fortnightly basis.

Whatever it is, and whenever it happens, equipment faults are never convenient. Your appliances are vital to the productivity, efficiency and reputation of your operation, which is why it’s vital to keep them running smoothly.

The causes of these failures can range from improper installation to electrical issues, however, the most common reason for the failures above, and the primary way to avoid them, comes down to maintenance.


Preventative vs reactive maintenance

Preventative maintenance involves regular inspections of vital catering equipment to identify and minor issues before they become major faults. In comparison, reactive maintenance focuses on repairing an appliance as and when failures occur, from small corrective measures to emergency equipment repairs.

While reactive maintenance may reduce regular outgoings and the time spent on planning for maintenance, it also removes all elements of control. Without the ability to plan in advance, kitchen managers are forced to rely on their own knowledge for quick fixes, or the availability of an expert at the last minute. Reactive maintenance can also lead to a much higher and unexpected repair bill, as well as loss in earnings due to business downtime, that could have predicted, or even prevented, weeks in advance.



The importance of preventative maintenance

“Prevention is better than cure” is the proverbial saying, and it is certainly wise in the case of looking after your valuable catering equipment. As previously mentioned, a lack of maintenance, such as thorough cleaning, is the primary reason for equipment breakdowns, which can lead to expensive repair costs, as well as the costs to the business in terms of unscheduled downtime while an appliance is out of action.

The benefits of planned preventative maintenance (PPM) include:

  • Cost savings
  • Reduced risk of business disruption
  • Longer lifespan of equipment
  • Increased energy efficiency
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Increased safety
  • Ensuring compliance with legal regulations


What is a PPM service plan?

A preventative maintenance plan is designed to offer you, and your staff, peace of mind. It’s a proactive approach to maintenance that involves regularly scheduled inspections by a professional engineer, who will check your vital catering equipment, such as fridges, freezers, ovens and dishwashers, as well as ventilation and extraction systems.

Implementing a PPM service plan allows for minor issues to be quickly identified, and worn-out parts to be replaced before a full breakdown occurs. Not only will does this contribute to the cleanliness and hygiene of a commercial kitchen environment, but it also works to improve general health and safety.



How Abraxas can help

Making sure that your commercial catering equipment is properly maintained can seem like a daunting task. While you have a business to run, with ordering supplies, staffing, customers, menus and more to think about, it can seem like a tall order to have to remember how and when to maintain all the appliances in your kitchen.

Abraxas has been leading experts in the field of designing, servicing, installing, and commissioning commercial kitchens since 1998. We have a team of highly qualified engineers who are ready and able to manage your planned preventative maintenance with one of our service plans. All members of our team are F-Gas and Gas-Safe trained and DBS enhanced cleared to work in any setting, from schools to care homes. They are also trained to make sure your catering equipment meets current DW172 and TR19 regulations.

We arrange all our visits for times that suit your business, avoiding busy periods of high footfall to minimise disruption, while offering maximum peace of mind. With many of the most common spare parts carried by our team in the van, we can frequently sort out a service or a repair on the spot, removing the necessity of a return visit.


Get in touch today to find out how Abraxas can create a bespoke maintenance plan for your business and budget.

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Abraxas specialise in commercial kitchen and servery counter design and the supply of commercial catering and foodservice equipment. We are a family run business based in Kidderminster, Worcestershire and employ our own engineers. We take a genuine pride in the services and products we provide to all our clients from a County Council to a small café.



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