When consumers visit a restaurant, most, if not all, are more concerned with what types of food will be available, how long it will take to get their order and even what they may be doing after their meal. For restaurant facility management professionals, the day to day machinations of how their facility is working to ensure a smooth operation each day, while staying within the local, state and even federal guidelines, for restaurant management can be a daunting task.
Piping Systems, Inc., an Assonet, Massachusetts based company, has been worked with restaurant facility managers and their staffs for years to help restaurants keep their operations moving at peak efficiencies. With services that include restaurant and industrial piping and plumbing, commercial boilers, restaurant and commercial boilers and fire protection systems experience, Piping Systems is acutely aware of the work that restaurant facility managers must undertake to stay within compliance with codes and guidelines related to the restaurant industry.
The experience that the Piping Systems, Inc. team has with restaurant codes and guidelines for a number of clients related to plumbing, fire protection and HVAC systems has led Jason Taylor, Vice President of Operations for Piping Systems, Inc., to share information on his own experiences with restaurant clients on what to look for when it comes to staying within codes and guidelines compliance.
“One of the most important lessons I have learned with our restaurant facility clients is the importance of making sure that you have constant inspections of your restaurant facilities, especially with grease traps and overall plumbing issues.” said Taylor, who has worked with a number of restaurants during his time with the company. “I cannot stress enough the importance of backflow protection for restaurant facility management. Contamination, sanitization, wash down stations, hot water temperature levels that are in compliance with codes and guidelines, even recirculation lines, all of these can be affected if you are not managing your backflow protection. If the plumbing lines aren’t working at a restaurant within codes and guideline requirement levels, a restaurant won’t be able to stay open.”
Older restaurants are particular susceptible to issues related to plumbing, due to the age of the building itself and the possible condition of the plumbing systems in place, as well as existing HVAC units and even fire protection systems. Many older restaurants can struggle with all of these areas related to facility management, especially if older kitchens have years of use related to grease buildups as well as the need for carbon dioxide monitors to make sure that facility has systems that fall within codes and guidelines requirements for not only removing carbon dioxide, but shut off valves to ensure that piping can be shut down quickly if needed.
“Another area that we have worked with our restaurant facility partners with is in regards to drain inspections and knowing where main isolation valves may be located. In a restaurant environment, drains can get clogged fairly easily by a number of insoluble items; investing in yearly drain inspections by having drain lines scoped via video, making sure that all water piping is in place and checking to make sure that any leaking valves are fixed is so important, because leaking valves are going to deteriorate packing.” Taylor said. “When we talk to restaurant facility managers, we want them to know the importance of knowing where the main isolation valves are in their restaurants so they can shut things down quickly to minimize loss. Eliminating problems with shut off valves is important to stay within codes and guidelines, because if it is an emergency, you will lose valuable time and cause significant damage to your restaurant facility if you are unsure where the main isolation valves are.”
Taylor also offered other tips for restaurant facility managers to help minimize problems with their facility. Making sure that main valves are clear in plumbing and piping will not only help keep everything running smoothly, but will help with reduction in energy expenditures and keep everything in compliance with codes and guidelines. For HVAC and fire protection of a restaurant facility, making sure that all maintenance has been completed by licensed technicians will help keep a restaurant facility within code, while checking filters, fire protection systems and even making sure that hedges and trees are planted away from the main facility will help minimize the opportunity for being out of code for fire protection, while also minimizing the risk of root intrusion in plumbing.
All in all, the best advice that Taylor offers to restaurant facility managers is to use common sense and follow the guidelines when it comes to staying within codes and guidelines for a restaurant facility. “If you notice that you are having problems with the plumbing, with your fire protection or your HVAC system, call a professional to have them come out and inspect and repair before you incur a larger expense and lose money if you have to close down a restaurant to get yourself back up to code.” Taylor said. “Not only are you being proactive with your business, but you can also keep your staff protected as well. We had a client who noticed that a lot of the staff in his restaurant were getting sick and couldn’t figure out what the problem was. We did a test on the backflow and we found out that a friend of the restaurant facility manager who wasn’t a plumber had cross-connected the bubbler (another name for a drinking fountain, for those not from the Northeast) to a non-potable water line. Using common sense and working with professionals will go a long way to help restaurant facility managers to avoid getting a failing grade when it comes time for inspections, codes and guidelines.”
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