Salamander Broiler Cleaning


This article was written by up-and-coming young tech and new contributor Kaleb Saleeby. Thanks, Kaleb!


Recently, I came across a work order description in my dispatch that made me scratch my head.

Clean Salamander broiler

I had to ask the omniscient Google for answers. It turns out it has nothing to do with vividly-colored, “fireproof” amphibious creatures! The name does, however, pay homage to 17th-century lore that salamanders could withstand the heat of a fire, and they were even believed to come from the fire itself.


None of this information aided me in understanding how to clean this particular type of open-air broiler, so I did more research on how the appliance was constructed and how it operates. From my findings, the overhead broiler is a very simple design. The basic components of a gas salamander broiler are as follows:

  • Gas valve
  • Gas manifold
  • Fuel orifice
  • Distributor
  • Igniter
  • Burner
  • Food racks

The gas valve on the appliance I worked on was quite literally just a knob the client manually turned on or off. When open, the gas valve allows a set fuel pressure through the manifold to be fed out a single orifice, which then gets fed through the burner. The gas is spread through the burner via a distributor to feed the ceramic plates at the end of the burner. The igniter would be the next in this sequence of operations; however, the appliance I worked on did not have a functioning igniter, and the client refused replacement, resulting in manual lighting. The ceramic plates of the burner are littered with tiny holes that allow the flame to burn uniformly across the burner with little to no major fluctuation.

None of my research gave me any answers on how to clean this equipment. I reached out to Refrigeration Technologies’ Chief Executive Officer and Founder, John Pastorello, for advice on what chemicals, if any, he recommended for this job. According to John, Viper HD cleaner is safe and appropriate for cleaning this type of broiler. Viper HD is a slightly alkaline (basically neutral on the PH scale) cleaner that will not damage the fragile ceramic burner as long as it gets rinsed. John states:

You will need Viper HD and a scrub brush. As long as you rinse you will not have a problem with the heating elements. On stainless [steel], you can use HD with a soft scrub. Rinse then use a stainless steel cleaner to finish. The [stainless steel cleaner] will have a mineral oil that leaves a finger proof coating and brings out the luster. This is a labor [intensive] job because of the heavily carbonaceous soil.

The cleaning of the appliance was fairly simple, albeit frustrating. The grease and grime were the hardest part. Once everything was clean and dry, I reassembled the appliance and relit the burner. After a few minutes of allowing the flame to stabilize, the appliance was operating well and to the satisfaction of the client.

In retrospect, I probably would avoid forcing water into the burner section. The burner assembly I worked on was riveted together and did not allow access to the inside. I have since learned that there is insulation on the inside of the burner assembly, and wetting the insulation can potentially cause issues with the equipment, even if it has been dried off. I would recommend anyone else who encounters a job like this to use a Viper HD saturated towel and wipe the ceramic burner to clean it and then rinse with a water-damp towel. I would also recommend focusing on the distributor inside the burner, as it may be heavily caked with carbon buildup. All other steps would remain the same. I also learned that there are overhead broiler models that have a burner design that does allow you to change the ceramic plates and insulation, if necessary, to make the cleaning process easier.

I hope this helps other guys who, like me, may get sent to do hot side service. It certainly is interesting!

—Kaleb

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