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Must-Follow Maintenance Techniques for Long Lasting Food Warmers


We pride ourselves on developing quality warmers that last generations. However, quality on its own does not guarantee longevity – proper care and maintenance techniques help extend your warmer’s life, ensuring you save money in the long run. Our Senior Repair Technician, Roger, who has been with Server for more than 35 years, shared his wisdom and learnings to help you keep your food warmer operating at peak performance. These tips run true whether you have a Server Products or other commercial countertop food warmer.

Daily Exterior Cleaning

Most countertop food warmer breakdowns stem from a lack of cleaning or improper cleaning. Daily exterior cleaning is imperative especially when dealing with greasy, buttery, and sugary products. Roger compares potential mishaps to soldering.

“If you have ever done any soldering, you know the solder flows toward the heat,” he says. “Same thing happens here. As the fats and food product break down from a solid to liquid, they flow toward the heat.”

From there, food product seeps into the unit and around electrical components. Best-case scenario, this may only cause the unit to smoke. Most often, seepage eventually damages thermostats, thermal cut-outs, switches, or wiring, which leaves operations with a non-operational warmer until replaced or fixed.

Daily Water Basin Cleaning

If your warmer utilizes a water bath, empty and clean – or, at the very least, rinse – the basin daily. Hard water deposits will cause vessel failure. It may seem like adding water to existing will do no harm, but the minerals in fresh water don’t evaporate, so they build up over the course of several refills.  Rinsing and washing will remove them completely.

“If someone knows their local water is extremely hard it is best to use softened water if available,” our tech says. “The deposits of hard water can and will corrode even the best stainless steel if they are not removed. Leaving them in the vessel then heating it just speeds the process.”

Cleaning Materials to Avoid – and What to Use Instead

Daily cleaning only matters if you use the right tools.

Do not use:

  • Steel scouring pads
  • Wire brushes
  • Metal Scrapers
  • Cleaners containing acids, alkalines, chlorine or salt

These supplies damage the stainless-steel surface, which can lead to corrosion. Another analogy is like a tooth – we have a protective enamel around the tool that protects the tooth structure, once that enamel is worn away, it’s a fast route to tooth decay.

Use instead:

  • Non-abrasive cloth
  • Mild dish detergent or spray cleaner
  • Mildly abrasive nylon or brass brush ONLY for stubborn food or mineral deposits on unit interior

As a parting word of wisdom, be sure to thoroughly rinse any areas you have cleaned. Heating cleaner residue can damage the water vessel’s protective film.

Troubleshooting tips for Server Products Countertop Food Warmers can be found in your unit manual – under Support > Resources & Downloads on our website.