As a chef, your main focus in the kitchen is simply cooking good food because let’s face it, you’re really good at it. If you’re lucky enough to open your own restaurant, you know there’s a lot more on your plate than just cooking. Between managing employees, getting customers in the door and passing regular health inspections, you also have to play “Mr. Fix It" when things break.
In this buying guide, we’re going to focus on one heavy hitter in your kitchen: restaurant equipment. If any of your restaurant appliances utilize gas, you need to know what kinds of gas connectors and hoses you need to buy (and install) to meet health and safety codes. Proper and secure gas connections not only prevent leaks, but also stay put when cleaning in and around large pieces of equipment.
Put down the knives and strap on your tool belt, because your DIY side is about to come out.
As you would expect, much of the health and safety codes surrounding gas connectors and hoses include: reducing fire risk, improving kitchen efficiency, reducing foodborne illness and promoting kitchen performance (Tom Stroozas CFE, 2007). Many of these issues are a result of improper cleaning regimens, which can lead to excessive buildup of oil, grease and other flammable materials. Not only do these materials pose a serious fire hazard for your kitchen, but can also result in food contamination and attract insects and rodents. Up until recently, most (heavy) restaurant equipment sat on immobile legs, and was connected with hard-piped gas connectors; this made it tricky to disconnect the equipment and adequately clean behind it. Failure to clean your kitchen properly can start you down a domino path of trouble, which is why many inspectors place greater emphasis on the ability to move equipment for routine cleaning maintenance.As a result of code-required cleaning priorities, more commercial kitchens have made moveable gas cooking equipment a priority. Many restaurateurs discovered that utilizing casters for heavy restaurant equipment made cleaning tasks easier, and thus they were able to follow a specified routine more regularly. They soon found, however, that moving equipment on casters wasn’t possible with a hard-piped connector. Enter the flexible gas connector. Flexible gas connectors have long been used in residential settings for home kitchen appliances. However, like most residential equipment, these connectors were not designed for the repeated movements and heavy use seen in commercial settings. As a result, these residential connectors damaged the structural integrity of the connector, which would eventually lead to gas leaks. And remember, as with your equipment itself, steer clear of using residential gas connectors or hoses in your commercial kitchen. Should disaster strike, the evidence of non-commercial grade products could put your insurance claims at risk. The standards and codes were changed in the 2006 edition of the National Fuel Gas Code (ANSI Z223.1 / NFPA 54) to specify the use of commercial-grade, flexible connectors on all foodservice installations of gas cooking appliances must be able to be moved for cleaning and sanitation purposes. Gas hoses like the Dormont Blue Hose® are made of heavy-duty, flexible and corrugated stainless steel tubing to prevent stretching as equipment is moved. Inspectors also look for connectors that are NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) certified to ensure that hygienic requirements are met. Commercial hoses treated with an antimicrobial coating will also help keep harmful bacteria at bay. Since mobility is such a priority for inspectors and restaurateurs, many manufacturers are also utilizing “quick disconnect" type of connectors. For example, Dormont specializes in their Safety Quik® which not only makes it easy to quickly remove, but it also features a safety feature that prevents operators from disconnecting the hose until the gas valve is shut off. These features ensure you’re easily able to quickly, and safely, move equipment in your kitchen.
When installing your flexible connectors, ensure that they are not hidden from view or enclosed. Connectors should always be easily accessible so they can be replaced as needed. Also consider your equipment placement to the gas line, because flexible appliance connectors cannot exceed 6 feet in length. While hard pipe connections are still allowed, it makes equipment mobility extremely difficult, which could jeopardize your cleaning goals. Not to mention the fact that you often need skilled service technicians to disconnect and reconnect appliances for each cleaning to avoid a serious safety risk. Read on to learn more about other installation considerations:
Most people in the kitchen are aware of the inherent risk that gas poses. Gas leaks are a tragic disaster waiting to happen, which is why your number one priority is to avoid any kind of leak in your gas lines. Loose connections or damaged hoses will allow gas to seep through, creating a serious safety hazard in your kitchen.
Watch our video on how to diagnose leaks and maintain a gas hose:
Size correctly! Before purchasing your gas connectors, contact your service representative or give the Tundra Restaurant Supply team a call at 1-888-388-6372. Improper connector sizing will restrict gas flow and reduce your equipment performance and efficiency.
Cleaning is the #1 way to reduce your risk of fire. Invest in commercial-grade flexible connectors for added durability that meets code requirements, and make sure your equipment is on casters so it can be easily moved away from the wall. Regular maintenance will improve the performance of your equipment, reduce the risk of cross-contamination, and ultimately score you a passing grade on your inspection.
Watch our video on how to install or replace a gas hose for more information:
As always, to learn more about code compliance and gas safety, check with your local health inspectors.