"What about used equipment?"

As a foodservice consulting firm, many people look to us for advice regarding their equipment purchases.  When asked about “used” equipment we respond in a very specific manner.  It is important to first categorize the items that you are looking to purchase.  As an example used slicers, mixers, buffalo choppers, grinders and shelving are items that we often recommend to purchase used—if and when possible.  There are many mixers, slicers and grinders that have been in operation from 10 to 30 years with little maintenance requirements.

"Beware the trap door."

Refrigeration, fryers, steamers, and convection ovens all have much shorter life-spans than the aforementioned equipment.  We recommend that you find out the exact year the equipment was built and what a new unit costs to ‘gauge’ making a purchase decision.  We do not recommend buying any used refrigeration over three years old.  We also think that any piece of used equipment being sold should have some type of warranty to operate for up to 6-months.

"Putting lipstick on the pig."

We have all heard the old saying “putting lipstick on the pig” and it has never resonated so clearly as with used equipment.  If you are unable to determine the date a piece of equipment was built do not make a decision based on the way a piece of equipment “looks.”  Make qualified decisions only and know where the piece of equipment came from if possible.  Keep in mind that the warranty for a fryer tank is 5-years for mild steel and 10-years for stainless steel.  If the fryer is 8 or 9 years old it is at the end of its life.  Dish washers generally last 8 to 10 years before major work is required.  It strictly depends on the environment the equipment was operated within.  Steamers are notorious for boiler and sensor problems.  What type of “steamer” are you buying?  Is it a pressure steamer, convection steam, or an open boiler pressure less steamer?  The functional operation and the life-span of each of these steamers are very different from one type to the next.  Average life-span is 5-years.  Educate yourself before purchasing!  Any piece of equipment can be made to “look good.”

"Gas equipment...A good bet."

The average life-scan for most broilers, griddles, ranges, salamanders and cheese-melters is 7 to 12 years.  Again, determine the date the item was put into service so that you may make a qualified decision about what to expect from your purchase.  Also be sure that the item is for the type of gas that you are using.  You may need to change all of the orifices if you are using propane and the item is setup for natural gas—and vice versa.