Does your business rely on walk in coolers? If you serve food and drinks or handle temperature-sensitive materials, the answer is probably yes!
Commercial refrigerators are a major investment at the heart of your business. And, with proper care, they will last for years to come! But, are you giving yours the care and maintenance that it needs to keep running perfectly?
In this article, we'll share our top tips for keeping your cooler in working order. Plus, we'll cover when to get professional help and who to call!
And, if you're considering buying a walk in, read this guide first! Your refrigerator will last for way longer if you take great care of it from day one.
Ready to learn more?
Awesome! We're here to help. Keep reading for tons of helpful advice and information.
Caring for Walk in Coolers
Proper care for your cooler won't just help it last longer. It will keep it operating more efficiently, too!
This can mean big savings when it comes to your electric bill.
If you run a restaurant, hotel, convenience store, or supermarket, treat these tips like a checklist. If you haven't been taking refrigerator maintenance seriously, now is your chance to make a change.
And, if you're not sure how your cooler works, this is a great opportunity to get educated.
1. Evaporator and Condensing Coils
Over time, dirt and dust can build up on these vital components, especially if your cooler is located outside. You should clean both your evaporator and condensing coil at least twice a year to prevent major issues later on.
Proper cleaning of these parts will require using an industrial vacuum.
These high powered machines can suck up even the toughest dirt and debris. Plus, most models can be set to blow air, too. This allows you to clean small cracks and spaces, plus those hard to reach crevices.
If you don't own the proper vacuum, this is a job best left for a professional service.
2. Proper Storage
Keeping your cooler organized will help it operate more efficiently and reduce waste.
You should always keep walkways and aisles inside your refrigerator clear. And, be sure that you don't overload it by stacking too much inventory inside. This can create a safety hazard and force your walk in to work harder than it should.
Never use the space above your refrigerator for storage. Even lightweight items can damage ceiling panels and tiles.
Maintain proper spacing inside, and avoid stacking anything around your cooler's coil. This can restrict airflow and prevent uniform cooling.
3. Doors and Hinges
Your walk in cooler needs to close properly to stay cold inside.
This is especially important in case of a power outage. Your refrigerator should maintain its temperature for about 12 hours as long as the door stays closed. But, not if it doesn't seal well.
Visually inspect both doors and hinges regularly to make sure they are in good condition. You should check the hinges for proper lubrication, and be sure they aren't sticking or creaking.
Keep in mind that your refrigerator door is opened multiple times a day, so it experiences more wear and tear than other components.
If you notice a lot of damage during your inspection, you might need to repair or replace your cooler's door.
4. Turn off the Lights
The lights inside your cooler produce heat. So, your refrigerator has to work harder to stay cold if they stay on all the time.
Turning the lights off any time you aren't inside will help keep your inventory cold. Plus, it will cut down on energy costs and extend the life of your cooler by keeping it from having to work harder.
Consider installing a switch with a pilot light or other visual indicator. This will let you know if the light is on inside without opening the door.
5. Clear Drain Lines
Have you noticed moisture gathering on the floor of your walk in refrigerator?
Coolers constantly produce condensation inside of their freezer compartments. This liquid runs down a drain line into a pan, where it eventually evaporates. A blocked drain line can cause this water to back up and pool inside, usually on the floor.
Minerals, mold, and debris can slowly build up in your lines over time. And, if you aren't having them cleaned regularly, you have no way of knowing whether or not they are clogged until it's too late.
Because cleaning your drain lines is a complicated and time-consuming process, most businesses prefer to hire a commercial refrigerator technician to perform the service. If there is any blockage, your cooler's lines will likely require deep cleaning and disinfecting.
6. Chemicals for Cleaning
When it comes to cleaning your walk in, soap, warm water, and a bit of scrubbing are best. You should avoid harsh and abrasive chemicals that could damage your cooler's metal surfaces.
While the soap and water method might require more frequent cleaning, it will also extend your cooler's life by protecting it from rust and corrosion. Plus, it lowers the risk of contaminating the items you're storing with cleaning products.
This is especially important if you are storing food and drinks.
Natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda can help with issues like hard water stains and mineral buildup. And, if mold control is a concern, you can tackle it with a dilution of bleach and water.
7. Gaskets and Door Sweeps
Over time, bacteria and mold can build up on your cooler's door gaskets. This isn't just unsightly; it's unsafe too, especially if your cold storage is being used for food and drinks.
Clean your gaskets regularly with warm soapy water to keep them clear of debris. This is also an excellent opportunity to inspect them for signs of wear like stiffness and cracking, which could be preventing a proper seal around your refrigerator's door.
Door sweeps help keep your walk in airtight by preventing dirt and debris from interrupting the floor seal. If your door sweep is damaged or showing signs of wear, replace it before you start to notice a difference in temperature.
Keeping the floor of your refrigerator spotless will extend your door sweep's life. So, make this a part of your daily cleaning routine.
8. Electrical Connections
Have you ever inspected your cooler's electrical connections? Damaged plugs and loose wires can cause your refrigerator to operate on a higher amperage.
This electrical issue wastes power, and can eventually cause your cooler's fans and motors to overheat or even break. Frayed wires can also become a fire hazard if they come into contact with any flammable surface.
If you suspect any issues with your walk in's electrical connections, call a professional electrician!
Servicing electrical equipment and access points is dangerous if you don't have the proper training. Plus, you could do just as much harm as good to your refrigerator if you don't know what you are doing.
9. Filters, Fans, and Motors
Dust and dirt can build up on your cooler's fan blades. Over time, this debris can cause drag, slowing the fan's speed.
This slowdown forces your walk in's motor to work harder, to try and keep those blades spinning. That extra effort uses unnecessary energy and can potentially wear your motor out faster.
Thankfully, inspecting and maintaining your refrigerator's fan is easy. Check for dirt and dust frequently, and use warm soapy water to clean any buildup away. This simple task will help you avoid extensive electrical complications later on.
Another big issue that can lead to a slowly spinning fan and overheating motor is a clogged air filter. This is especially true if your walk in is being used inside a commercial kitchen where grease is present.
Keep your filter fresh and clean so that plenty of air makes it through to the fan. If you let the buildup get too dense, you'll have to replace the filter altogether.
If you suspect something is going wrong with your fan or the motor that powers it, call a professional fast. During your service, they can determine if your motor is running at its optimum speed. And, if it isn't, they can make vital repairs to keep your cooler running.
10. Routine Inspections
If you only read one tip out of ten, make it this one!
Have your walk in cooler inspected by service technicians at least once a year. Twice, if possible.
This will prevent routine maintenance issues from transforming into major problems in your cooler's performance. And, it will extend the unit's life, saving you tons of money in the long run.
Plus, it's an opportunity for a professional deep cleaning. This service will keep the refrigerator looking and smelling like new for years to come. And, it minimizes your risk for dangerous bacteria and mold buildup.
Don't wait until you notice something wrong to call for help! You'll spend way more on refrigerator maintenance if your unit requires significant repairs instead of regular service and cleaning.
Other Top Tips
If your walk in isn't running efficiently, spend some time observing the situation.
Start by watching how employees treat the cooler door.
Your refrigerator door should stay closed when nobody is entering or exiting. Never block or prop the door open for long periods of time, even while you unload inventory. Leaving the door ajar forces the cooling system to work way harder than usual and can lead to major maintenance issues.
Make sure your walk in is set to the right temperature at all times. Turning it down too low for the products you're storing can cause the cooling system to overwork, wasting power and wearing vital parts and pieces faster than normal.
Use a backup thermometer.
While your refrigerator probably has a thermostat on the outside of the door, there's always a chance of mechanical failure. Eventually, most of these systems will require recalibration and replacement. Keeping a backup thermometer inside your cooler can help ensure that you're maintaining the ideal temperature at all times.
Your thermostat system uses a sensor or bulb to read the walk in's temperature. Never stack things around this. Blocking airflow can cause a false reading of your cooler's temperature. And, damage to the thermometer-sensing bulb can cause it to fail entirely.
Take care of your refrigerator's floor.
Clean up spills as soon as they happen, especially if they are liquid. Use non-skid strips or mats as an extra layer of protection. And, check regularly for condensation and pooling water.
Have you been neglecting your refrigerator's maintenance?
If this article helped you recognize some areas that need improvement, don't wait.
Your walk in cooler was a major business investment, and taking good care of it is vital to helping it last as long as possible. Whether it runs efficiently for one year or many is totally in your hands.
When was your last professional service? If you can't remember, it's time to call in the pros.
Contact us to schedule your cooler's next service.