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How to Troubleshoot Important McDonald’s Kitchen Equipment

Hey, McDonald's employees! Get troubleshooting tips for deep fryers, grills, and espresso machines to avoid equipment downtime and extra repair expenses.

We know corporate may not offer an Applied Equipment Class anymore, but that doesn’t mean that McDonald’s teams no longer need to know how to troubleshoot equipment issues.

Enter 86 Repairs. We partner with McDonald’s franchises across North America to manage maintenance and repairs from end to end. Before we ever schedule a vendor for service, our Customer Service team offers McDonald’s employees step-by-step troubleshooting directions to try and get equipment up and running again.

Based on our conversations with franchise Owner/Operators and Directors of Operations, we understand that deep fryers, grills, and espresso machines are most important to the business. Here, we’re offering our troubleshooting tips for each piece of equipment to help you avoid unnecessary downtime and expenses.

Remember, these are general troubleshooting tips, and the specific steps may vary depending on the make and model of the equipment in each of your locations. Always defer to the instructions in a user manual for precise guidance.

Table of Contents

mcds fries-1

Deep fryer troubleshooting

Deep fryer not working properly? Your customers won’t be lovin’ it when you have to take fries, nuggets, and Filet O’Fish off the menu. 

Some deep fryer models have digital displays that show error codes when the equipment falters. If that’s the case in your McDonald’s kitchen, use the error code to consult the user manual for precise troubleshooting steps before following the general advice below.

Oil won't filter

The team should be changing fryer filter paper and cleaning screens regularly so solids are removed before passing through the pump. If oil won’t filter in the fryer, there might be too much buildup.

Check that the filters have been changed and cleaned recently. Ensure all cleaning solution is rinsed off and the filters are completely dry before they’re replaced. If the filters aren’t properly cleaned, dried, or aligned, the fryer may be destroyed—costing the business $2,000 or more to replace. 

If the filters have been properly cleaned and replaced, but the oil still won’t filter, move on to Unit won’t turn on/work correctly before calling a vendor.

Unit won't turn on/work correctly

Verify that the fryer has power:

  • Check the hood. If the hood isn’t functioning properly, it’s probably shut off power to other hot side equipment. Learn how to troubleshoot hood problems here.

  • For electric fryers, check the cord. It should be plugged into the unit and the wall and clear of any excessive wear.
    • Examine the outlet, and verify all connections are tight.
    • Reset the GFCI outlet, and toggle breakers to see if it’s an electrical issue. 
    • See if power to the fryer is restored.
  • For gas or gas/electric combination fryers, check the valve behind the unit. It should be open and parallel to the gas line. Secure the gas line connection as follows:
    • Turn off the fryer, then close the gas valve.
    • Disconnect the flexible gas lines from the unit, removing any kinks that may be present.
    • Reattach gas lines. Be sure the collar snaps into place!
    • Open the gas valve. 
    • See if power to the fryer is restored.

If power isn’t the problem, check the fryer’s pilot light.

  • If the pilot light is out, skip to the Pilot light out section below.
  • If the pilot is lit, ensure the filter is in place underneath the fryer compartment.
  • If the pilot is on and the filter is in place, the fryer might have been working too hard. Find the red reset button on the fryer motor and turn it back on.

If these steps don’t get the fryer going again, you’ll need to call a vendor for service.

Unit won't turn on/work correctly

Ever notice a standing flame in the bottom compartment of the fryer? That’s the pilot light. It should always be lit, even when the fryer isn’t in use. Always wait 20 minutes between lighting attempts—that’s the standard timeout period in pilot systems.

  • If the flame is out, relight the pilot. 
    • Toggle the gas knob off and on again.
    • Push the knob in and light the pilot flame with a match. Be sure to hold the gas knob down for 30 seconds to one minute to ensure the pilot flame stays lit.

  • If you try to light the pilot and it won’t hold a flame, the fryer doesn’t have power. Go back to the Unit won’t turn on/work correctly steps above.

  • If the pilot will light but extinguishes quickly, it’s likely a thermocouple or sensor problem.
    • Clean the thermocouple with a dish scrubbing pad or steel wool.
    • Use a stainless steel scouring pad on the sensor to remove buildup.

If the pilot still won’t light, it’s time to call in a professional for assistance.

mcds big mac

Grill troubleshooting

Big Macs become big problems with an underperforming grill. We understand the heat is on to get equipment fixed quickly, so try these ideas the next time your grill isn’t doing great.

No power

Verify that the hood system is working.

  • If it’s not, it’s probably affecting the power flow to the unit. Troubleshoot hood problems here.

Check to see if the grill is correctly connected to a power source.

  • For gas grills, ensure the gas supply is turned on and that no gas leaks are present.
  • For electric grills, make sure the power cord is securely plugged into both the unit and an outlet.

If an electric grill is plugged in and not turning on, there could be a problem with the electrical current and not the unit itself.

  • Plug the grill into another outlet to see if it receives power.
  • If there’s still no power, try toggling the breaker for the general area where the grill is plugged in.
  • If toggling the breaker doesn’t work, the GFI may have tripped. Hit the “Test/Reset” buttons on the outlet.

Not heating

This is likely a pilot light or cleaning issue.

  • Verify the pilot is still lit. Look for a flame to appear through the holes next to the burner knobs.
    • If the pilot is out, relight it using the Pilot light out tips above.
    • If the pilot is on, clean the grill burners. Remove buildup with scouring pads.

If troubleshooting doesn’t give your flat top grill heat or power, call a vendor to investigate further.

Uneven cook

Is the grill getting cleaned regularly? Built-up grease and residue can cause uneven heating, potential flare-ups, and other grill issues. 

Make regular grill cleaning a habit—and that includes the burners, ignition, grates, and drip trays! Correct and consistent maintenance like this can prevent many common grill issues.


Espresso machine troubleshooting

Nothing goes better with an Egg McMuffin than a nice, hot coffee drink. But a McCafe may become a McCrisis if the espresso machine starts acting up.

Follow this troubleshooting guidance for common espresso machine issues:

Unit won't turn on

  • Double check the unit is plugged into a working outlet.
  • Ensure the power switch is turned on.
  • If neither of those steps works, see if a circuit breaker has tripped or if something else is affecting the power supply.

No water flow or low water pressure

  • Ensure all installation directions from the local water authority have been followed.
  • Confirm the water supply is properly connected and turned on.
  • Inspect the water supply line for any kinks or other blocks that might stop the water flow.
  • If applicable,
    • Check the pre-filter on the water line for excess calcium and mineral buildup.
    • Clean or replace the external water filter to remove any potential clogs.
    • Ensure the water tank is filled and correctly inserted.

Poor quality or weak extraction

  • Clean the group head and shower screen to eliminate any residue.
  • Examine the coffee grind size, checking it’s suitable to brew espresso.
  • Verify if there are enough grinds in the portafilter for flavorful extraction.
  • Descale the machine at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals to avoid mineral buildup.

Machine leaking water

  • Inspect all water connections and fittings.
  • Ensure the water tank or water lines are sealed properly.
  • Check the steam wand and hot water tap for loose connections.
  • Replace damaged or worn gaskets and seals.

Steam wand won't produce steam

  • Confirm that the steam wand is fully closed before use. Open it gradually.
  • Ensure the machine has reached the right temperature to generate steam.
  • Clean the steam wand tip to remove any residue or other blockages.
  • Check steam boiler pressure. Adjust if necessary for optimal performance.

Take repairs off your plate

You can maintain focus on customers while we handle repairs. When McDonald’s franchisees partner with 86 Repairs, the entire team gets 24/7 on-demand support from real people with restaurant experience.

Want to hear how it works? Just click the “Learn More” button at the top of the page.

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