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Hot Food Holding Cabinets Maintenance

Hot Food Holding Cabinets Maintenance

Hot food holding cabinets have long been a favorite of restaurant and catering operations with high-volume outputs, yielding the most benefits to those who have peak hours at certain points of the day and wish to have easy access to prepared hot foods. With an average service life ranging anywhere from 5 to 20 years, many are unaware of the signs that can indicate that it’s time to replace your cabinet. Knowing how to maintain your cabinet while having the ability to detect signs of breakdown can help ensure that your hot food holding cabinet is functioning efficiently and safely. 

Many restaurant managers (and even staff) view these cabinets as a secondary piece of equipment, so their cleaning and maintenance become at risk of getting left behind in the regular cleaning schedule. Train employees to tend to the unit as they would any other daily maintenance piece. Here are a few things to keep in mind to properly maintain your hot food holding cabinet:

- Cleaning the Unit: As a daily task, the unit should be wiped down with soap and water and rinsed, ensuring that no food remnants are left at the bottom of the cabinet. Avoid harsh chemicals, as these can damage the cabinet itself. The exterior can be polished on a weekly basis with a special stainless steel cleaning solution.

- Cleaning the Pans: Clean sheet pans and water pans regularly in the dishwasher, and heating system covers can be cleaned in the sinks. To extend the life of your sheet pans, consider covering them in parchment paper when baking items!

- Check Accessories: Seals and gaskets will inevitably suffer from wear and tear. Regularly check and monitor these items, as a broken seal or gasket can reduce the efficiency of your unit, effectively decreasing its lifespan.

- Delime and Descale Humidity Tanks: Models that have a humidity tank will suffer from lime and scale buildup over time. On a weekly basis, delime and descale the tank to prevent buildup which would ultimately compromise the efficiency of the cabinet.

Consider these tell-tale signs signaling the end of the life of your hot food holding cabinet:

- Cabinet: Through normal wear and tear, your unit may suffer from punctures in the body of the cabinet. These holes will decrease your unit’s efficiency, and you’ll need to gauge the threshold for when it’s time to replace the cabinet as a whole.

- Insulation: When the insulation of your cabinet is compromised, heat can escape rapidly, creating a safety hazard for your customers. As hot foods need to be maintained at certainly designated ranges, any breakdown of the cabinet’s insulation can be detrimental.

- Maintenance Costs: As with any large piece of machinery, maintenance costs will inevitably increase over time. The threshold for these costs versus purchasing a new cabinet outright should signal to you when it’s time to replace.

- Recovery: As insulation and overall robustness of your cabinet breaks down, the recovery time of your unit (that is, the time it takes for it to heat up) will become longer. If your unit cannot maintain temperatures or it is taking too long to heat back up, it’s time to replace.

While hot food holding cabinets are a necessary addition to many successful restaurants, knowing how to maintain and when to replace them is key!


Sales Consultant


E Friedman Associates Inc

T: 800-555-0666 x 1975

D: 516-882-1975



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