Food service professionals need a commercial kitchen that includes a reliable, functional, sanitary and safe food preparation area. Food-related illness hits between 3.3 and 12.3 million Americans, and is responsible for 3,900 deaths, each year. There is zero tolerance for any risk that an unsanitary kitchen environment may create.
The construction of a commercial kitchen is one of the most critical links in the efficient operation of a restaurant or food service facility. Go deeper into the kitchen and you’ll find the work of plumbing and mechanical contractors that is most critical to the overall operation of the facility.
Proper plumbing installation and strict code compliance reduce safety risk. Equipment must be properly connected and operational. Sufficient resources such as hot water, steam, gas, ventilation and drainage are critical to achieving a proper flow for the equipment and stations throughout the kitchen and the facility.
Commercial kitchen concerns include the following:
- potable water for drinking as well as non-potable water for other applications, flushing and cleaning;
- drains from sinks, floors and equipment that must drain properly and to the right place;
- steam and gas for various pieces of equipment;
- backflow prevention for all water systems;
- lavatory facilities;
- hood exhaust;
- ventilation; and
- numerous other mechanical concerns that depend on the type, size and operation of the facility.
Each mechanical system has its own specific needs. Water at 140 degrees Fahrenheit is required for industrial dishwashers using 180-degree water for their final rinse cycle. A booster heater needs to boost the supply water to the required 180-degree temperature. The kitchen generally requires one lavatory facility for washing hands, and at least one mop basin will be required in the kitchen. Floor drains need to be provided throughout the kitchen area. Waste piping that intersects or is routed above or near food preparation or storage areas requires a protective drip pan or containment.
Cross-connections between the potable water supply and any non-potable water supply are, of course, forbidden. Non-potable water systems for things such as air conditioning and fire protection must not have contact with any food, potable drinking water or equipment that has contact with food or utensils. The piping of any non-potable water system must be identified so that it is readily distinguishable from piping that carries potable water.
Grease traps need to be installed throughout the drainage plumbing because most plumbing codes require grease interceptors to be installed for any equipment that generates greasy waste. Having grease extracted at a central point is a design attribute of the plumbing. An experienced plumber may add some intuition and know-how to the design and installation to avoid problems in the future. For example, an experienced plumber may know when to centralize the grease extraction or when to install it locally with individual equipment.
A plumbing contractor can hardly work on commercial kitchens without some knowledge of backflow prevention. Equipment must have some protection from any contamination coming through a device and back into the drinking water. Usually, a backflow presenter is installed to preclude backflow of a solid, liquid, or gas contaminant into the water supply system at each point of use in the kitchen.
Dishwashers, beverage dispensers, food macerators, ice makers and water spray systems all require sufficient backflow prevention to prevent contamination. The flood level rim of the plumbing fixture or food equipment must be at least twice the diameter of the water supply inlet and not less than 1 inch.
When it comes to the construction and renovation process, one of the greatest challenges for the commercial plumbing contractor in outfitting the kitchen is working as part of a multifaceted team. The property owner is a member of the team and is the overall customer of customers in the construction. But between the owner and the plumbing contractor are numerous other parties: an architect, a kitchen designer, an engineer who may work for the architect, and a food service equipment consultant.
In many projects, there is a division of responsibility established between the plumbing contractor and the food service equipment contractor. The plumbing contractor may have to pick up additional requirements that the plumbing engineer or food service equipment contractor misses. These include pressure regulators, filters for ice makers and drinking water, connections for two different pieces of equipment, indirect waste piping from equipment to spillover floor drains, unions, hoses or other miscellaneous final connections that may get left out in the aftermath. The plumbing contractor must work with architects, engineers and kitchen designers to ensure that all of the details get ironed out and also that they’re in the best interest of the job.
For example, the plumbing contractor may coordinate the tie-in of floor drains, sinks and water/waste penetrations with the overall building structure. The majority of the drains and connection points can be moved a short distance without affecting the performance. The team is composed of many minds with many different types of experience, and the plumbing contractor is undoubtedly one of those minds with much to offer.
A plumbing contractor needs to review the installation plans and the details of the equipment being installed. Missed details or ambiguous facts about the plans can cause confusion and have been known to throw projects off schedule and budget. The plumbing contractor has the advantage of being able to install much of the main plumbing before the equipment arrives. This leaves a cushion of time to find any inconsistencies or potential problems.
If skill in working as part of a project team isn’t demanding enough, there are multiple agencies that regulate the commercial kitchen, sometimes leading to conflicting requirements. Consider the many jurisdictions: local building code, plumbing code, sewer and drainage requirements, and health department regulations. Plus, there may be another jurisdiction, such as a school authority or a penal authority, that has its own specific requirements in the kitchen construction.
Call S&K Quality Plumbing to start the process of building your commercial kitchen or for commercial kitchen plumbing repairs.