To ensure a long and productive service life, operators should follow manufacturer recommendations for cleaning and maintaining their combi ovens. In general, operators should rinse their combi units daily and thoroughly clean this equipment weekly.

Automated cleaning systems help reduce labor and allow the operator to manage costs in terms of cleaning chemical usage. Combi ovens with this feature provide a variety of options and cleaning levels. These range from a 20-minute quick rinse to heavy-duty cleaning, which could be a 3-hour process in some ovens. The benefit of this is that the operator can select the level of cleaning necessary.

Operators should only use the type of cleaning chemicals the equipment manufacturer recommends, as some agents can be abrasive and damage the oven interior as well as components. Using incorrect cleaning agents can potentially result in the voiding of the
manufacturer’s warranty.

Cleaning chemicals used with these units vary significantly. Many manufacturers call for the use of cleaning tablets for their units. The tablets dissolve in water and at certain temperatures result in a contained slurry, which circulates through the oven, like a dishwasher.

Some models utilize liquid concentrate and sanitizing chemicals for cleaning, which can be remotely pumped to the oven. Most ovens also have a means of decalcifying and preventing limescale buildup in the boiler or steam generator. In the case of boilerless technologies, the oven cavity must be treated.

The average lifespan of a combi oven is 10 to 15 years, depending on conditions in the kitchen. Placement in the back of house can also impact a combi oven’s service life.

Combi ovens will show a variety of signs indicating the need to replace the unit. Signs of age, such as dents, rust or other visible indicators of deterioration, may indicate a need to replace the unit. Also, utilizing unfiltered water will cause lime buildup and can significantly shorten the combi oven’s service life.

If operating the unit becomes costly because it is working harder to maintain proper cooking temperatures, consider purchasing a new combi oven. When the service costs begin to escalate, operators should weigh the cost of running the combi oven versus purchasing a new, more energy-efficient model. Plus, parts may become obsolete, which will necessitate replacement.

Safety of the operator should always be front of mind so if the equipment is deemed unsafe to operate for any reason, the combi oven should be retired.