Specifying considerations for Undercounter Warewashers

Undercounter warewashers can include a variety of features, including built-in electric booster heaters, top-mounted slide-out controls, larger door openings, double-wall construction, fully automatic wash and rinse cycles, touch-panel control systems with digital displays and diagnostics, and extended and shortened wash cycles, to name a few. Wash requirements will vary, depending on the operation’s cleaning needs, volume and space.

Here, James Camacho, principal at Atlanta-based Camacho Associates, Inc., provides details on what operators need to know to properly specify this equipment.

  • Assess the incoming water temperature to determine if the unit requires a booster heater. Water needs to be at 180 degrees F to properly sanitize items during the final rinse cycle. If water is at 140 degrees F, a 40-degree rise booster heater becomes necessary. Foodservice consultants will typically specify a 70-degree booster heater to ensure the proper water temperature.
  • For operations that lack hot water capability, specify low-temp warewashers. In this case, the washing water temperature should be between 120 degrees F and 140 degrees F.
  • Operators should determine the durability of the items being washed. Some warewashers produce as much as 20 pounds of pressure, which can cause water to shoot up hard enough to break glassware. A soft start feature begins cycles with more gentle water pressure that builds up more gradually. This may be necessary to prevent breakage of glassware and other delicate items.
  • Silverware typically requires higher water pressure for proper cleaning. With most warewashers, operators will need to pull out baskets, shake them and run them through a second time. Keep this in mind when choosing a unit.
  • Consider the operation’s volume in relation to the warewasher’s turnaround time. Warewasher cycles can vary from as short as 90 seconds to as long as 2½ minutes, depending on the model.
  • For warewashing areas near the dining room, a unit with added insulation can provide quieter operation.
  • From an ergonomic perspective, warewasher stands make it easier to get racks in and out without the user having to bend over as far.
  • Another consideration related to warewasher use is storing the soap and chemical bottles, which may require as much as 12 inches of space. Ideally, it’s best to allocate an area close to the unit for easier accessibility. Some units come with a cabinet underneath for added storage space.
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