If you are in the food services business, you have probably developed a love hate relationship with your commercial refrigeration system. On the one hand, they help you serve fresh and appealing food and without your coolers, chillers or walk in freezers, you would be serving lukewarm drinks, wilted salads, and melted ice cream. And that is when the hate part of the relationship comes from: when they break down and your business quickly comes to a screeching halt.
If you have been in the business for a while, you have certainly experienced the anxiety (even panic) that occurs when a critical refrigeration unit goes down during a busy dinner shift. Not only can you lose thousands of dollars in wasted product but more importantly lost business and possibly a loss in your reputation in a very short period. Oh, and let us not forget the repair bill, which can often cost you double if it happens at night or a weekend, which of course it will!
Luckily, avoiding commercial refrigeration repair is not as daunting as it seems; most breakdowns of commercial refrigeration equipment can be prevented with regular refrigeration maintenance and predictive analysis with technology such as ArtikControl™. I am sure that you are aware that your heating and air conditioning equipment needs to be cleaned, inspected, and tuned up at least twice each year (and possibly more often depending on your usage). But many restaurant owners do not realize that their refrigeration equipment also needs TLC to keep working reliably and I am not talking about using bubble gum and duct tape either! I have seen this with my own eyes being done.
Commercial Refrigeration Maintenance Checklist
Here is a handy checklist of the refrigeration maintenance tasks that need to be taken care of to keep your coolers, freezers and chillers operating reliably and prevent the need for a restaurant refrigeration repair at the worst possible time.
You can do the everyday tasks yourself, but the others will require the expertise of a professional refrigeration company. How often these tasks need to be done may vary depending on your system load and the demands of your business. A qualified commercial refrigeration service company can work out the refrigeration maintenance schedule that is right for you.
Your daily/weekly to-do list:
- Check temperature and defrost frequency settings. If the temperature is set too high, your food will spoil and you could have a public health risk on your hands. If the temperature is set lower than necessary, the unit needs to work too hard and can shorten the life of your system. The same goes for defrosting more often than needed.
- Clear space around the equipment. Air flow blocked by debris or stacks of stuff can put a strain on the unit, causing it to run inefficiently and even overheat. Reduced air flow can also increase power consumption.
- Be vigilant about turning out the lights inside walk-in coolers and freezers. Not only do the lights drive up your electric bill, but they generate heat that forces your equipment to work harder to keep it cool. A best practice: use LED lights that generate less heat inside coolers and freezers.
- Clean the inside of all units. Remember not to use steel wool, bleach or caustic chemicals which can damage the finish. Be sure to consult the owner’s manual and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
- Check for cold air leaks. When hinges, latches, strikes, gaskets, or seals are in poor condition, the door of your units may not be airtight. Test the door gasket by closing a dollar bill in the door. You should feel some resistance when you pull on it; if it slides out easily the door is not sealing properly. Call in a professional refrigeration company for advice and repair.
Monthly to quarterly maintenance and inspection tasks:
Schedule a refrigeration service company to do a detailed inspection, cleaning, and tune-up of all your refrigeration equipment. These tasks require the expertise of professionals who know what problems to look for. Keep in mind that attempting to do repairs yourself could void your equipment warranty.
- Inspect and clean each unit’s condensing and evaporator coils. A buildup of dirt and grime impedes the air flow through the equipment which causes your unit to lose efficiency. This should be done with a commercial condenser coil cleaner and the right tools. We recommend having this done by a professional to avoid damage to the sensitive coil fins.
- Disassemble and thoroughly clean ice makers. Did you know that dirty ice is one of the most common health inspection violations? Even if your ice looks fine, you could be making people sick if the inside of your ice maker is covered with mold.
- Check compressor and fan motor operation. If the compressor goes, you probably need a new unit. If it is working too hard, your technician can find the cause and fix it before the unit fails.
- Inspect all parts for wear. A commercial refrigeration services expert can spot degrading parts and replace them before that cause the entire unit to fail.
- Clean fan blades. Dirt and grease on the fan blades cause drag that slows down the motor.
- Clean gaskets, lubricate hinges, and repair any air leaks. Gaskets need to be clean to form a tight seal, and hinges should be regularly lubricated to keep doors closing properly. Cracks or holes in the exterior walls will also cause the unit to lose cool air and must work harder. If parts need to be replaced, your refrigeration professional can install more efficient versions such as automatic spring hinges.
- Check refrigerant levels. If your equipment is leaking refrigerant, it is an EPA violation as well as a repair issue. Your technician will determine where the leak is coming from and repair it before recharging the refrigerant.
- Check electrical connections. Loose wires can often cause those unexpected equipment failures.
- Calibrate thermometers. You cannot be sure your equipment complies with health regulations if the thermometers are not regularly tested and calibrated unless you have installed the ArtikControl™ Package.
To prevent breakdowns that cost your business, sign up for a preventative maintenance program for your refrigeration equipment.
Do you want to love your refrigeration system again?
Contact Refrigeration Technologies’ today to schedule a FREE No Obligation Energy and Equipment Audit.