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Commercial Refrigeration

The Complete Refrigeration Preventative Maintenance Checklist


refrigeration preventative maintenance checklist

Nothing will stop your business cold like a refrigeration equipment meltdown. That’s why it is vital for you as a restaurant or food service owner or manager to be vigilant about refrigeration preventative maintenance. Having a refrigeration preventative maintenance checklist will help you complete routine commercial refrigerator maintenance tasks that will prevent untimely breakdowns and headaches.

Refrigeration Preventative Maintenance Checklist: Tasks you can tackle yourself

Let’s take a look at tasks on the refrigeration preventative maintenance checklist that you and your staff can and should perform on a daily or weekly basis.

Clean the equipment.
Though the fast pace of your kitchen lends itself to food and beverage spills and little time for prompt cleanup, it is an imperative that you clean drips and splatters on a timely basis as part of your daily commercial refrigerator maintenance program. Be careful not use steel wool and other abrasives and chemicals, such as bleach, that can damage your appliance’s finish. The longer you let a spill settle, the harder it will be for you to clean it without the use of a potentially harmful cleaning agent. Uncleaned spills can lead to unpleasant odors effecting the quality of your ingredients and mold growth that can jeopardize the safety of your food.

Check settings.
Another simple item on your refrigeration preventative maintenance checklist is to check your temperature and defrost frequency settings daily. If the temperature is set lower than necessary, your system will be working too hard, which can shorten its life. If the unit is too cold, ice could form, especially on liquids. On the other hand, if your temperature is not cool enough, your food could spoil.

Defrost on schedule.
Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for defrosting. Defrosting your unit too often is creating unnecessary work for your refrigerator.

Clean out units to prevent crowding.
No one likes to be packed in like sardines; even the sardines. When coming up with a refrigeration preventative maintenance checklist, make sure to include a reminder on overcrowding. The air will not be able to freely circulate in a refrigerator packed to the gills, which will make the unit work harder to maintain its set temperature.

Clear the area to maximize airflow.
Besides the proper interior airflow, do not overlook exterior airflow issues. Unfortunately, kitchens are often cramped spaces. Although you may have little room to spare, it’s important that you don’t block the air intake and exhaust vents. If you do, your unit will have to work harder to cool the food stored inside. This not only chews up electricity, it could bring about the premature end to your system. That’s why this item on the routine refrigeration preventative maintenance checklist is vital.

Inspect seals and fix leaks.
Another regularly performed task on your refrigeration preventative maintenance checklist should be air leak inspections. When the gaskets or seals on your doors are ripped or loose, air can escape, which is another reason why your unit might be overworked and your electric bill on the rise.

Minor gasket leaks can be repaired with silicone caulk. Also, make sure your unit’s door hinges and latches are tightly secured. If the doors are not properly aligned, cool air is likely escaping. This should be a monthly activity.

Check interior lights.
A lights-out refrigeration preventative maintenance checklist item is remembering to shut off the lights in your freezer or cooler. It may seem trivial, but lights generate heat, which again is another reason your refrigeration units might be working harder than necessary.

Refrigeration Preventative Maintenance Checklist: Tasks you can choose to DO or DELEGATE

These are tasks that you can take on yourself if you have some experience with the techniques, as long as you’re careful to use the right cleaners, tools and cleaning methods. However most busy restaurant managers choose to assign these tasks to a professional, who can do the job better with the proper equipment and supplies to do the work safely and efficiently.

Clean coils.
Coil cleaning is critical to the efficient operation of your system and should be on every refrigeration preventative maintenance checklist. Each month, you should inspect and clean your unit’s condenser and evaporator coils. If your coils are caked in dirt and grime, it will interfere with the transfer of heat from your system. This is yet another cause of inefficiency and your system working overtime, which will accelerate repairs.

Clean fan blades.
Another DIY chore you might want to entrust to the professionals, is fan blade cleaning. Dirty blades will force the fan motors to work harder to rotate the blades. When cleaning the blades, make sure screws are tightened. Blade cleaning is another monthly job.

Refrigeration Preventative Maintenance Checklist: Trust the professionals for these tasks

On your refrigeration preventative maintenance checklist, these are the tasks that definitely require professional expertise. These jobs should be completed twice annually.

  • Disassemble and clean icemakers. Believe it or not, unsanitary icemakers are a top health inspection violation.
  • Check refrigerant levels.
  • Observe motor operation.
  • Examine all parts for wear and tear before a minor problem becomes a big problem.
  • Check suction line insulation.
  • Clean drain lines.
  • Inspect compressor operation. Compressor failure can prompt the replacement of the refrigeration unit, which makes compressor operation checks a priority on the refrigeration preventative maintenance checklist.
  • Check electrical connections
  • Test thermometers and recalibrate if necessary.

The #1 reason you need a refrigeration preventative maintenance contract

It’s have a professional regularly inspect your equipment for signs of trouble and preventing problems before they turn into breakdowns.

The majority of operational sub-par conditions that can plague your refrigeration system will result in your system working harder, which will likely hasten repairs and drive up electricity costs. An ignored problem can result in a costly breakdown when you can least afford it.

Worse yet, the consequences of an unchecked problem could be a complete system failure, a failed health inspection or a diner getting sick on food not properly refrigerated. Doesn’t it make sense to make it a priority to completing this refrigeration preventative maintenance checklist to protect your businesses most valuable assets – content diners, expensive equipment and choice ingredients?

Though a refrigeration preventative maintenance checklist is a key to keeping kitchen operations running smoothly, it is vital to have a reputable refrigeration service company, such as Arista Air, perform many of the tasks on the checklist. This will give you an added comfort level that the maintenance work is being executed properly and that any potential problems are being detected and addressed. Also, it will allow you to devote your time to what you do best: food preparation and service.

To learn more about how a preventative maintenance contract could benefit your business, check out our free guide: Refrigeration Preventive Maintenance Contracts: How to Find the Right One for Your Food Service Operation.

Refrigeration Preventative Maintenance Contracts