Why is it so difficult to find reliable refrigeration equipment?
Breakdowns are common in restaurants and other food service establishments for two reasons:
- The typical restaurant kitchen environment is really rough on equipment. Kitchens get busy and crowded. Plus, the air is hot and filled with grease and other debris. All of those things make it harder for your refrigeration units to function properly. Refrigeration equipment needs space to vent, the right conditions, and to be kept clean.
- Maintenance often gets neglected. Restaurants and food service locations have long hours, making it tricky to schedule maintenance visits. Taking care of your refrigeration units may fall low on the priority list, but neglect is the biggest cause of breakdowns that require a refrigeration repair call.
Regular maintenance reduces refrigeration repair calls
A refrigeration breakdown that interrupts your operation can disappoint customers and hurt your business. That’s why it’s important to prevent the need for refrigeration repair by taking care of your equipment on a regular basis.
Some restaurateurs view their small refrigeration units as disposable. Many don’t bother to get them professionally installed or maintained, and then just replace them when they break. However, frequently replacing even small refrigeration boxes can be very costly. Plus, you waste time and have to throw out expensive food.
You can prevent those problems and get much more life out of your equipment if you treat it properly. It’ll also save you money on energy costs and replacement units.
The best way to prevent refrigeration repair calls is to have your units professionally maintained. It may seem like a hassle to get regular maintenance, but really it’s an easy way to save yourself the headache of needing an emergency repair or replacement when something breaks.
Professional refrigeration maintenance tasks
Here’s what a professional refrigeration technician will do to keep your commercial refrigerators and freezers running reliably.
Condenser coils are some of the most important and delicate parts of your refrigeration boxes. When they get covered in grime, it can compromise cooling power and even cause the compressor to overheat. Leave this refrigeration maintenance task to the professionals, because it’s easy to damage the coil fins with the wrong cleaner or technique.
Check refrigerant charge
Professionals can safely check how much refrigerant your system has. If it’s suspiciously low, that could also indicate a refrigerant leak that would lead to a breakdown if not found and fixed.
Check electrical connections and power draw
If your refrigeration frequently trips the circuit breaker, it could be installed incorrectly and be drawing too much power for the electrical system you have. Professional installation can prevent this problem, and a refrigeration repair tech can help you fix it.
Check motor operation
A refrigeration repair tech will check the fan motor, looking for signs of an impending failure, and also clean off any grime that can slow the fan and impede operation of the unit.
Clean drain lines
Drain lines are often an inaccessible part of equipment, and if they clog, moisture can back up into the unit. Regular maintenance will ensure that they’re clean and functioning properly.
If your thermostat says your refrigeration unit is not cold enough, it could be a problem with the thermostat. The problem is worse (especially during an inspection) when your unit is actually warmer than it really is. A refrigeration repair tech can test and recalibrate thermostats for you.
Maintenance includes checking the door gaskets for cracks or an improper seal. Rubber gaskets can harden, causing gaps that leak refrigerated air. If a refrigeration unit is losing cold air, it has to use more energy to maintain the same temperature. Getting a gasket fixed is simple and can save you a lot in energy costs over time.
Clean ice machines
A professional HVAC tech can help disassemble and clean your ice makers. Ice makers can harbor and spread bacteria, and are one of the top health code violations each year. Make sure your ice machine is clean and healthy with help from a refrigeration repair tech.
More tips for business owners to prevent refrigeration repair
Get proper installation & maintain airflow around units
You can’t just plug a refrigeration unit in anywhere you can squeeze a cooler in your kitchen. Professional installation is key to getting the full lifespan out of your equipment. A refrigeration technician will know how much ventilation and airflow your unit requires. They can work with you to find the placement that works for your space and needs.
Electrical capacity for all equipment
If you installed your small refrigeration units yourself, one thing you might have gotten wrong is the electrical capacity. Your unit may be drawing more power than your wiring can handle, which can cause a fire. With professional installation, you can spread the electrical load out properly, or add more capacity for safe operation.
Maintain a comfortable room temperature
Kitchens tend to run hot, and that means your refrigeration equipment is working harder than necessary to keep cool. Overworking your coolers will lead to worn parts and faster breakdowns that need refrigeration repair. Maintaining a cooler kitchen temperature will keep your refrigerators and your employees comfortable.
Keep units clean between maintenance visits
Keeping your fridge clean is necessary for more than just sanitation, it can actually prevent you from needing refrigeration repair.
A clean machine functions better than a dirty one. This goes for the area around your refrigeration as well. Make sure to keep the area clear of junk and clutter that could block your refrigeration from being able to vent properly. Both the air intake and exhaust vents need to be clear. Without being able to vent properly, machines must use more energy to keep cool. This leads to quicker breakdowns and a higher electrical bill.
Don’t pack units too much
Air circulation is important inside the refrigeration unit as well. If your unit is too stuffed full of food, it will have the same consequences as a fridge that can’t vent. There needs to be room around everything in the unit for the cool air to be able to get to it. If you find yourself frequently needing refrigeration repair, overstuffing could be the culprit.
Learn more about refrigeration maintenance contracts
If you’re fed up with needing frequent refrigeration repair calls, there is an alternative. Keeping your refrigeration units clean and in good condition will help prevent breakdowns. Regular maintenance is the best way to keep your equipment going for as long as possible and save money on energy and wasted time.
For more information, check out our informative guide to refrigeration maintenance for food service businesses: