Compared to other types of facilities, restaurants have pretty unique HVAC needs. In fact, it's not uncommon for restaurants to have upwards of four times more cooling tonnage than a retail space of similar size.
For restaurant facility managers, all that extra tonnage equates to increased HVAC preventive maintenance — which can be tempting to delay to save time or money. In reality, preventive maintenance should be a top priority to ensure your diners always eat in a pleasant environment, and your kitchen staff have a comfortable, safe place to work.
Imagine walking into a restaurant on a hot summer day expecting to be hit with a cool rush of air... but instead you're greeted by a hot, muggy dining room. Right away, your experience at that restaurant is already unpleasant.
At this point, you can either turn around and leave, or stick it out and eat a meal. If you choose the latter, your entire visit will be overshadowed by how uncomfortable you are — even if the food is amazing and the service is friendly and efficient. You might go home and tell your family and friends not to eat there, or even leave a negative review online.
Unfortunately, this is the reality for your customers if your restaurant HVAC units become ineffective due to improper maintenance. In the short-term, it impacts your bottom line by turning away potential customers; in the long-term, your reputation and future business will suffer as today's customers become more vocal about their negative experiences.
To avoid this scenario, we recommend scheduling regular preventive maintenance — such as filter changes and coil cleanings — to ensure your units are operating at their maximum potential and on track to avoid breakdowns.
But your customers aren't the only people unhappy in a hot restaurant — what about your staff?
We've all heard the phrase, "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen." Trust us on this one: you don't want your kitchen staff to be miserable. Your kitchen is the heart of your restaurant, and your restaurant HVAC system needs to be able to withstand the heat so your employees can do their jobs well.
As fries are dropped in the fryer, burgers are placed on the gill and pizzas are tossed in the air, your HVAC filters need to be effectively removing the airborne grease, smoke and flour these types of items produce.
Likewise, your makeup air system needs to be operating at maximum efficiency to promote laminar flow over appliances and reduce heat and humidity in the air. Regular preventive maintenance is essential to ensuring your HVAC system is up to the task.
Given how crucial restaurant HVAC preventive maintenance is for restaurants, you might be wondering how you can improve your current program. For the most impactful results, we recommend:
Your HVAC filters are the first line of defense in protecting your restaurant HVAC unit. Given the high amount of pollutants in the air from your kitchen, you'll want to replace your air filters often to avoid them becoming too clogged — at least every three months, but potentially more often depending on individual factors.
A clogged filter leads to increased pressure drop in your unit, which is when your unit has to work harder than necessary to draw air all the way through it. Overworking your unit contributes to both wear and tear and increased energy usage, which adds up pretty quickly.
Another important factor in HVAC maintenance is the type of filter you choose. BFC Solutions has a patented filtration technology – the PleatLink® filter system – that minimizes obstructions to airflow, reducing pressure drop through the filter.
This best-in-class filter system also eliminates air bypass in your unit due to its innovative cardboard-free, continuous media design. This helps your unit avoid unnecessary damage from contaminants reaching the evaporator coil. These two benefits result in reduced maintenance costs, improved air quality and increased overall efficiency of the HVAC unit.
The evaporator coil is the heavy lifter in your restaurant's HVAC unit — without it, you wouldn't have air conditioning. Scheduling regular coil cleanings with trained professionals ensures that this crucial component is operating at maximum efficiency. This can help extend the life of your unit, reduce expensive service calls and decrease overall energy consumption.
These three components make up the core of your restaurant's HVAC preventive maintenance program, working together to provide happier customers and more money in your pocket in the long run.
Ready to start improving your preventive maintenance program? Download BFC's Ultimate Guide to HVAC Maintenance today!
About the Author
Rich Dorsey is the Director of Enterprise Solutions for BFC Solutions and has been with the company for 9 years. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his family, following SEC Football, and exploring the great outdoors. Contact Rich Dorsey at firstname.lastname@example.org