Is Gasket Maintenance really a big deal?
If you take care of your gaskets and replace them when they’re torn or worn out, it doesn’t have to be hard. Gaskets serve a lot of purposes for commercial refrigeration. They protect the unit and the door from the abuse that cooks give them. When sealed properly, gaskets keep your commercial refrigeration running at peak performance. That saves a lot of energy and gives the equipment a longer life. Gaskets also keep unwanted pests out. To do all of this, it is important that the gaskets makes a good, airtight seal. If you find one of your gaskets isn’t sealing properly, it’s time to get someone to install a replacement. Once you have a kitchen full of nice, clean gaskets, you’ll just need to take care of them.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Gasket Maintenance
- Only use a soft cloth or sponge on gaskets. Do not clean them with scour pads, knives or other abrasive objects. This could damage or tear the gasket.
- Use a mild soap or dish detergent with warm water when cleaning gaskets. Never use chemicals such as bleach or degreaser to clean your gaskets, as this can cause the gasket to deteriorate, causing it to become brittle and crack.
- You should also never use sanitizers as they do not contain enough of the cleaning agents found in soap to clean the dirt and grime on the gasket. Using sanitizers also requires aggressive scrubbing to remove dried up food and grease. Scrubbing is not good for gaskets.
- It’s always best to leave the gaskets on the doors when they’re being cleaned. Removing the gasket can either collapse or reverse the direction of the wings that hold the gasket in place. This will prevent them from being able to stay in place when reinserted. Once the holding power has been compromised, its ability to properly hold or retain itself in the door track can never be achieved.
- Under no circumstances should you clean your gaskets in a commercial dishwasher. The high temperatures of the water will distort and shrink the gasket.
- Coolers near a fry station will need more attention and may require daily cleanings.
- A gasket maintenance plan can help keep the gaskets clean at all times. A plan for gasket maintenance might include adding gasket cleaning to a weekly cleaning duty. The manager checklist should include checking to see if gaskets were cleaned.
When it’s Time to Replace Your Gaskets
It’s time for a replacement when a gasket is torn. Gasket maintenance can only do so much. Torn gaskets are impossible to clean effectively, thus creating harbors for mold, bacteria and insects. Gaskets also need to be replaced when there is evidence of molds such as black mold or pink mold. Once the mold has started to eat into the gasket, it can never be completely free of mold. The gasket will need to be replaced because mold can easily get into food that is in such close proximity. Do not flip the gaskets to get longer life. Removing the gasket and turning it so that the tear is now at the bottom leads to a collection of old food, mold and bacteria, closer to the floor attracting and providing an easier entry for insects.
The Easy Way
Running a restaurant is a hard job. There’s a million things to keep your eye on. There’s employees running around, doing who knows what, customers complaining, vendors trying to get a delivery in at lunch time, equipment breaking down, landlords to deal with and on and on. The last thing you are thinking about is the seals that go around the cooler doors. At The Seals (my day job) we offer free quarterly inspections. This keeps your restaurant ahead of the health inspector and keeps your coolers running at peak performance. There’s no commitment and no contract. After our inspection, we show you what we find and it’s up to you if you want to move forward. If you are going to get gaskets, why not get them from a company that takes care of you.
The best way to take care of your gaskets is to clean them with a soft towel or sponge in warm soapy water every week.
If you have any questions or comments, you can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love talking about gaskets (maybe a little too much).