Managing Water Use in Restaurants, Bars & Food Markets
Refrigeration and Ice-making Equipment are Your Biggest Water Users
New York City restaurants, groceries, food stores and other similar establishments that store and prepare food may have cold boxes, ice-makers, beer and soda cases, freezers and other equipment that is cooled by city water. This type of machinery consumes large volumes of water that flows “once-through,” and is then disposed of into the sewer, resulting in higher than necessary water and sewer bills for food-related businesses.
When the equipment is properly maintained it can use between 100 and 1,000 gallons of water daily. Unfortunately, once-through water-cooled equipment is often not well-maintained and consumes more water (and also electricity) than required for the cooling process.
Even when properly maintained, the relatively small beer and soda cases located in small food stores throughout the city use several hundred gallons of water a day. Basic maintenance, such as insulating the water pipes to the water-cooled equipment, can avoid unnecessary water use.
Checking Your Equipment for Excess Water Use
You can often tell if the control valve has failed, by reaching down the drain where the used cooling water flows to the sewer. Look for a small hole in the floor to the side or behind the refrigeration equipment with a pipe leading to, but not connected to, another pipe. If you see water flowing, test the temperature with your fingers. If the water is warm, the compressor is working and the cooling water is doing its job. If it’s cool, the cooling water flowing to the sewer is wasted. Refrigeration, ice-making and air-conditioning equipment that use once-through cooling water should have maintenance checks at least once a year.
Faulty and poorly maintained equipment can cause an unwelcome spike in your water and sewer bill. Regular maintenance and troubleshooting can save your hard-earned revenue from being flushed down the drain. Ask the AquaAudit team to help you with a basic maintenance program.
Don’t Get Soaked
“Once-through” cooling refrigeration and ice-making equipment that uses city water for cooling, is usually the largest water consumer in any food-related business. When this equipment works properly, it does its job but uses hundreds of gallons of water a day. Often, the valve that controls the flow of water fails, causing water to flow 24 hours a day. Ask us how you can check and maintain your equipment regularly to keep you from getting soaked on your next water bill. Or for more information, visit the NYC DEP website.
Tips from DEP
- Make sure the control valve on refrigeration equipment is checked at least annually.
- Keep walk-in freezer or cooler doors closed.
- Insulate cold water pipes leading to water-cooled equipment.
- Make sure that interior lights in walk-in freezers or coolers are turned off when no one is inside.
- Keep exposed cooling coils clean.
- Install plastic inner door strips in walk-in coolers to seal in cold air.