NYC Metro Area’s HVACR Blog

Commercial Kitchen, Commercial Refrigeration

Neglected Commercial Refrigeration Equipment is a Recipe for Disaster!

Last Updated on 

Last Updated on June 25, 2015


In the food service business, you spend good money on the best ingredients, because your customers expect nothing less than the freshest fare. So much depends on the quality of your food. But if you’re storing that food in commercial refrigeration units that have not been properly maintained, you might as well be throwing your money away.

What’s so important about refrigeration maintenance?

How can neglecting your refrigeration equipment cost you hard-earned money and even threaten your business? Here are just a few of the costs you could face without even realizing it:

Wasted product.

As counter-intuitive as this may sound, a NYC restaurant kitchen is a rough environment for a NYC commercial refrigeration unit. It doesn’t take long for grease and food debris to build up on the coils, impeding the cooling function and eventually causing breakdowns. If a failed unit can’t be fixed immediately, you will be throwing out a lot of expensive food.

Something as simple as grease on the door gaskets can cause leaks that let in hot air from nearby cooking appliances, resulting in a refrigerator that’s too warm. If it stays that way too long, you’ll have to feed that food to the dumpster instead of your customers. Even if you don’t have to throw it out due to fear of contamination, your food will spoil more quickly. When your refrigeration units run at optimal temperatures, they keep food fresh longer.

Lost business and your reputation.

It only takes one incident of a customer getting sick to hurt your reputation and significantly impact your bottom line. That customer won’t just tell their friends and family to avoid your restaurant, they will tell the world on social media and review sites like Yelp. Even without an illness incident, offering food that is less than fresh due to sub-par refrigeration will cause you to lose business. Maintaining your commercial refrigeration equipment is critical to preserving the freshness and quality of the food you serve.

Sky-high energy bills.

When the cooling coils on your equipment are dirty, air flow is impeded and the unit has to run continuously the keep the interior at the correct temperature. The same thing can happen because the system has a failing fan motor, the refrigerant charge is too low, or even due to faulty door hinges or improperly sealing gaskets. When the unit is constantly running, it can increase the equipment’s energy consumption between 10 and 35 percent. Multiply that times the number of refrigeration units in your restaurant, and you can see how much money you stand to save by maintaining your equipment and keeping it running at optimal efficiency.

Higher repair costs.

If a refrigeration unit fails unexpectedly, you have to fix it in a hurry or face lost business and wasted product. And doesn’t that always seem to happen at the absolute worst time, like on a weekend or holiday when the service rates are at a premium? When you have your nyc commercial refrigeration equipment maintained regularly on a schedule, your technician can often spot problems and fix them before they cause breakdowns. The fixes will usually be less expensive as well, possibly just involving a single part instead of a major failure.

Higher replacement equipment costs.

When your equipment is not regularly cleaned and tuned up, it has to work harder and the extra wear and tear causes it to fail much sooner than a well-maintained unit. And when a unit breaks beyond repair (again, probably on a weekend or holiday), you will need to replace it with whatever is available quickly, at whatever cost. You won’t have time to shop around for the best deal. Having a service company taking care of your equipment means it will last longer, and you’ll be able to plan for equipment replacement and obsolescence instead of scrambling in an emergency.

DIY Refrigeration Maintenance

The good news is, maintaining your refrigeration equipment is not difficult or expensive to do. Many simple tasks can be done yourself or by your staff to ensure a proper HVAC preventative maintenance schedule.

CLEAN: At least once a week (or even daily depending on usage) you should do a thorough cleaning of the inside and outside of each unit, using mild soap and hot water. Never use harsh chemicals or abrasive tools which can damage the finish. Don’t use water on electrical components; just wipe with a damp cloth.

CHECK: At least weekly, inspect all units for signs of problems. If you spot any concerns, consult a refrigeration service expert to take care of the problem.

  • Water leaks often mean clogged condenser coils.
  • Condensation inside the cabinet means that doors are not properly sealed.
  • Excessive noise coming from the fan motor or compressor can be a sign of an impending problem.
  • Check gaskets for proper seal and inspect hinges and fasteners to make sure they are not loose.

REDUCE CLUTTER: Remove storage items, furniture, décor or debris that impede the flow of air around your refrigeration equipment.

Call in the Experts to Handle the Rest

Mission-critical equipment like refrigeration units require specialized care from experienced professionals. Consult with a refrigeration service provider to determine the schedule that works for your needs and your budget, and make sure the following tasks are taken care of:

  • Clean the fan blades and any dirt and debris from the unit
  • Clean and check drains, pans, fan motors and refrigerant levels
  • Clean ice machines regularly with chemical sanitizer to remove mold
  • Make sure doors seal properly, lubricate hinges and clean gaskets
  • Verify correct box temperatures
  • Clean coils with chemical cleaners to remove grease
  • Inspect electrical components
  • Check condition of parts and look for signs of impending problems

There’s no time like the present

When something goes wrong with your refrigeration equipment, there’s no time to shop around. Your best bet is to evaluate and choose a service provider that you can trust to meet your needs before an emergency arises.

You may be considering changing service providers but worried about how to break off your current relationship. There’s never a need to stay with a provider that’s no longer providing the service you want and expect. To learn more about how to make a smooth transition, take a look at our helpful guide to Contract Confidence: Transitioning to a New HVAC Service Provider.
Get Your Free Guide to Vetting HVAC Service Providers