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Which Repair Projects Can You Do Around Your Restaurant, and Which Require a Professional?

Owning a restaurant brings challenging but rewarding work. Occasionally, you’ll come across fixtures and appliances needing repair, so do you whip out the screwdriver or dial a professional? 

Some repairs you can do by yourself — but others you’ll need to leave to a trained specialist. Here’s a guide on doing repairs around your restaurant.

Which Repairs Can You Do Around Your Restaurant?

Some repairs are easy enough to do alone if you have the tools, saving time and money. Here are four repair projects to try by yourself around the restaurant.  

1. Unclogging the Drain

Clogged drains are a typical problem at restaurants. Tiny food scraps from diners’ plates build up in the drain over time despite the dishwasher’s attempts to clean them thoroughly. Oil and grease are major culprits when they solidify and clog your pipes. When the drain clogs, save time by resolving the issue yourself.

A drain snake is the primary tool you’ll need when unclogging the drain. Lower the snake into the drain until it reaches the clogging, then twist it to break up the materials. Most drain snakes are manual, but you may have better luck with a motorized version. 

2. Replacing the Refrigerator Gasket

Restaurants rely heavily on the refrigerator to keep meat, dairy and beverages cold and fresh for customers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends storing food in the fridge at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to prevent bacteria growth. A blown gasket could be detrimental to your entire operation.

Don’t blow your gasket for this repair — fix it yourself. Start by unplugging the refrigerator and relocating its items to another fridge if possible. Unscrew the gasket to remove it and replace it with a gasket of the same size. After installing, close the refrigerator door and test the seal by sticking paper between the door and the frame. 

3. Mitigating a Running Toilet

A frequent problem in the bathroom is a running toilet. Here, the toilet continues to run water despite releasing the object’s handle. Running toilets wastes enormous amounts of water, so fixing them as soon as possible is best. 

Fix the running toilet by removing the tank’s lid to inspect the inside. You may find an improperly sealed flapper or a faulty float valve here. Worn flappers allow water to drain from the tank, so the toilet constantly replaces the water.  

4. Painting the Walls

When you purchase an old building, you might prefer a different color on the walls to fit your restaurant. Painters can eclipse $100 per hour, stretching the budget for restaurant owners and entrepreneurs just starting out. Save your money by grabbing a paintbrush and doing the job yourself.

Painting interior walls is one of the easier DIY jobs if you have time and patience. Before painting, you may need to sand and clean the walls to prepare for painting. Grab a step ladder to support your body if you paint the ceilings. Injuries occur most often when falling from six feet or less. 

Which Restaurant Repairs Require a Professional?

Doing repairs yourself saves time and money, but some projects require a professional. The last thing you want to do is compromise your safety or another employee’s. Hire a professional for these four repairs. 

1. Repairing the Roof

Strong winds and storms can damage your roof over time, leading to loosened or broken shingles and unseemly appearances. Roof repairs may seem easy, especially if your roof is low and relatively flat. However, this assignment is best left to the professionals.

Roof repair can quickly become dangerous because you’re high on uneven terrain. Falls are the most common risk, and even roofing professionals have issues with it. National Safety Council (NSC) data shows workplace falls injured over 211,000 workers and killed 805 in 2020. 

2. Handling Electrical Issues

There are some electrical projects most restaurant owners can do themselves. Simple tasks like changing lightbulbs or light switches are easy enough if you have the tools. However, anything more complicated than these repairs means you should call an electrician for their services. 

Your building may need new breaker boxes, circuits or an oven. These jobs can be dangerous when dealing with live wires and other objects that can electrocute you. Research shows Americans face over 30,000 non-fatal shock incidents annually. Plus, some electrical work requires a permit to ensure safety and building code compliance. 

3. Removing Asbestos

Imagine you purchase a building for your restaurant. The facility is from the 1970s, meaning the insulation likely contains asbestos. This mineral provides excellent heat and electrical resistance, but it’s toxic and can be lethal. Research shows over 39,000 Americans die from asbestos-related illnesses annually.

After you purchase the building, hire a professional to remove the asbestos. In fact, most cities and states require a permit to complete this job. It may be tempting to do it yourself, but you’d endanger yourself, your employees and your customers if done improperly. 

4. Tending Gas Appliances

Gas stoves are convenient for restaurants because they’re inexpensive and instantly provide heat for the chefs. However, fixing them can quickly become dangerous for restaurant owners. Gas is flammable, so one mistake can quickly lead to an unwanted fire or explosion, endangering yourself and your employees. 

Another risk you take with gas appliances is carbon monoxide (CO). CO is invisible but can quickly become lethal if you’re not careful. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says accidental CO poisoning kills over 400 Americans and sends 100,000 to the emergency room. Call gas technicians or the fire department if you suspect a CO leak.   

Ensuring a Safe Restaurant

Restaurant owners prioritize safety for employees and customers, so they should apply the same belief to themselves. If your restaurant needs repairs, call a professional if there’s any danger involved. The last thing you want to do is turn a problem from bad to worse. 

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