Pub kitchens suffering glasswasher breakdown epidemic

Glasswasher limescale build-up

Pubs and bars are being advised to urgently check the water softening solutions they have in place for their glasswashing equipment after a catering equipment distributor said it had received a “surge” in enquiries for support.

U-Select, a distributor business operated by portable kitchen specialist PKL, said its phone had been ringing off the hook since the summer, with customers suffering equipment failures as a result of not having the right procedures in place.

Jon Steward, sales manager at U-Select, said his sales team had seen a large amount of enquiries from pubs and bars that have been left without glasswashing facilities after breakdowns caused by mineral build-up inside the machine during the summer months.

“This summer we have fielded a lot of calls from bars and pubs urgently requiring new glasswashers, in fact more than 10% of our enquiries have been dishwasher-related,” he said.

“Most of these failures can be marked down to a lack of proper water softening. It’s one of the big issues across the catering industry. Water filter manufacturer Brita claims that 75%of all catering equipment breakdowns are due to insufficient water softening. From our perspective, the pub industry seems to be having lots of breakdowns at the moment. It’s a real concern.”

The cause of the problems is the minerals carried in hard water, which is formed when it passes through limestone and chalk.

More than two thirds of England and half the UK as a whole are listed as ‘hard water areas’ with more than 200 parts per million of calcium or magnesium carbonates in their water supply. When water flows through catering machines these particles are deposited and build up to form a hard layer which can block pipes and cause equipment malfunctions and failures.

Steward said water softening problems are particularly dangerous for foodservice businesses because they cause lots of damage very quickly.

“When an item of kit breaks down because of water softening problems, the results can be catastrophic: it can often need to be replaced. I’ve been amazed by how quickly mineral deposits can build up and cause issues with equipment in the areas with the hardest water,” he said.

Steward urged pubs and bars to check what water softening they had in place or to check with distributors before purchasing what water softening is best for their equipment, which can reap further benefits on top of protecting against breakdown.

“The great news is that the solutions are easy to install and maintain, and many newer glass washers have inbuilt water softeners or even clever ‘reverse osmosis’ systems which remove even more impurities that traditional water softening,” he said. “With the right solution in place not only will your glasswasher last longer, but you will spend less on detergent and see your glassware stay pristine for longer too.”

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