Service Q&A: Allen Alligood, president, SAM Service Inc., Albany, Ga.

FE&S: Describe combi ovens’ daily maintenance requirements.

AA: Combis are pretty easy to maintain, but cleaning the oven on a daily basis is important. We see a lot of lime scale buildup on interior cavities. Every day, the operator should clean and wipe out the oven’s interior with a damp cloth and mild soap solution. Racks can be pulled out and washed in the sink. The outside of the oven can be wiped down as needed. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines in terms of solutions and cleaning methods.

FE&S: What is a common mistake with cleaning these units?

AA: There are times operators will mix up the cleaner and sanitizer, which can lead to big problems. A number of these units run through a cleaning cycle on the off hours, so it’s important to have enough of the proper chemical on hand to properly run these programs on a regular basis.

FE&S: Are there tasks that need to be performed less often?

AA: The main thing with combi ovens is utilizing good-quality water. Filters should be checked on a monthly or quarterly basis, depending on use, and changed when needed.

FE&S: What is the main cause of failure with combis?

AA: Usually where we see combi ovens fail is when the boiler is not well maintained. Either operators or service agents need to annually descale these units. If this isn’t performed, the oven may fail prematurely. There are instruction guides that come with the equipment for descaling. Typically, a pump runs a descaling solution through the boiler system, where it sits for a certain time period before being pumped out. Boilerless combis require water sprayed on the elements rather than descaling, unless there is lime scale buildup, which requires a service call.

FE&S: How can operators make combi service calls go more smoothly?

AA: Most units provide an error code if service is needed. It’s helpful to provide this information to the service company since it gives us a heads up in terms of the supplies or parts that may be needed. This not only saves service time but also money.

FE&S: What are the signs that a combi oven needs replacing?

AA: The average service life of these units is between 10 and 15 years with good care and maintenance. There comes a point when parts become obsolete and a new combi is needed. Also, if fans, motors or other major parts begin failing, it may be time to replace the oven. If it is more expensive to repair than replace, the equipment should be retired.

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