How to Maintain Your Walk-in Cooler or Other Commercial Refrigeration Equipment
Commercial refrigerators and walk-in coolers aren’t just used in the service industry. They can be found in butchers, supermarkets, fishmongers, hotels, hospitals, medical and scientific laboratories and more. As one of the most important pieces of equipment to many businesses, it’s crucial to make sure your walk-in cooler is kept in good condition.
Read on to find out how you can maintain your industrial fridge and identify when you should call a service technician.
How to Keep Your Walk-In Cooler Clean
One task of walk-in cooler maintenance is cleaning. A dirty commercial fridge not only impacts the quality of the food being kept in it, but it can also cause the cooler to malfunction.
Here’s how you can clean your commercial cooler:
- Soap and water. Harsh cleaners may react with the metal surface of your cooler, so it’s best to use simple soap and water.
- Evaporator and condensing coils. Twice a year, you should clean your condensing and evaporator coils. This can be done with soap and water and a stiff-bristled brush.
- Drain the lines. Have a service tech drain the lines annually to make sure they are free of debris.
- Door gaskets. Wipe down the door gaskets weekly with soap and water. This will help prevent the growth of bacteria or mold.
- Sweep and mop the floor. By keeping the floor clean you will prevent the growth of mold.
Tip: Make sure you understand the food safety requirements for your business, including proper maintenance of refrigeration equipment, as set out by the Canada Food Inspection Agency.
Checking Your Walk-in Cooler for Damage
Damaged parts prevent your cooler from doing its job properly and can compromise the items inside. On top of regular cleaning, you should regularly check the cooler for damage. Prevention is easier and far less costly than constantly needing the unit serviced or having to replace it.
Here are a few ways you can prevent damage in your walk-in cooler:
- Close the door. When the cooler isn’t being accessed, the door should be closed. Propping the door open will result in a change in the interior temperature but can also damage the door gaskets.
- Clear airflow. Keep exterior condensing units clear of debris to maintain proper airflow.
- Clear coils. Ensure the coils are not blocked by boxes or produce.
- Clear roof. Do not store anything on top of your walk-in cooler as this may cause the ceiling panels to become damaged.
- Check electrical connections. A few times a year, have a service tech check all the cooler’s electrical connections to ensure they are tight. Loose wiring may result in higher use of electricity.
- Check insulation. The insulation on the suction lines needs to be intact for proper function. On a regular basis, check for signs of damage and replace the insulation as needed.
- Lubricate hinges. A noisy hinge can mean that the door isn’t closing properly. Lubricate the hinges annually to make sure they work smoothly and the door shuts properly.
- Turn the lights off. Leave the lights off when there’s no one in the cooler. Lights produce heat, so the cooler will use more energy just to maintain the proper temperature.
- Check the sweep. The door has a sweep that is meant to keep the entryway clear of debris and prevent drafts. Make sure the sweep is intact and replace it if it is damaged.
- Check gaskets. Damaged door gaskets won’t keep drafts out and results in the cooler using more energy to keep the desired temperature. By replacing damaged gaskets, you can keep your energy bill down and prevent spoilage.
Commercial Refrigeration Maintenance Tips
Many of the tasks required to keep your commercial freezer or refrigerator in top shape are the same as those identified for walk-in coolers. These tasks include things like performing regular cleanings, keeping the coils and evaporator clear of debris and checking the whole unit for signs of damage.
Commercial refrigerators also have some unique maintenance requirements that need to be addressed:
- Check air filters. In a commercial kitchen, grease and dust from your fryers can clog up the air filters in your refrigerator, preventing proper air circulation. Loose dust can be removed with a vacuum but you should consult the refrigerator’s service manual about degreasing the filter.
- Drain pans and tubes. Industrial refrigerators accumulate sludge if the drain pans and tubes are allowed to get too full. A sludge build-up causes the refrigerator to become too cold, resulting in frozen product. The drain pans and tubes can be cleaned with warm soapy water or plain white vinegar.
- Keep it dry. If there’s liquid on the shelves or floor of the unit, wipe it up as soon as possible, since it will result in the refrigerator temperature lowering to the point of freezing. On a display freezer, be sure to wipe up any condensation that forms on the glass.
When to Get Your Industrial Fridge Serviced
Luckily, industrial fridges are built to last. If the unit is being used correctly, your cooler or refrigerator won’t need to be repaired often. Still, you may need to have your unit serviced periodically.
These are some of the more common problems associated with walk-in coolers and commercial refrigerators:
- Excess noise. Commercial fridges typically only emit a low hum. Strange noises or changes in the type or level of sound can indicate that some part of the unit is not working right.
- Crystallization. Most people don’t realize this, but ice forming on the outside of your unit is not normal, nor is it good. Exterior ice crystallization is caused by a fault in the unit’s insulation.
- Malfunctioning doors. Sometimes, door gaskets and seals can wear out with excessive use. If the door doesn’t close completely, it’s time to think about replacing the damaged part.
- Temperature shift. Whether inside or outside the unit, a temperature change indicates a malfunction. Make sure your thermostat is set at the correct temperature – if it is, and the temperature is still off, call your service provider to have the unit repaired.
Call South Island Mechanical For Walk-in Cooler Servicing
If your commercial cooler needs servicing or you suspect it is faulty, contact South Island Mechanical. We’ll get an experienced technician out to you in no time and get your unit working like new again.
Commercial appliance repair experts serving southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, South Island Mechanical can help with all your commercial and industrial heating, cooling, air conditioning and refrigeration needs.