The refrigeration unit is a core component of any food and beverage based hospitality business. Without it, you’ve got no way of storing your ingredients at a safe temperature, thus no way of serving your customers all those tasty menu items for which you’ve become so well-known for now.
And should your fridge happen to break down, the cost to your business could be astronomical. Not only will you lose all income for that day, but you’ll likely have to throw away a massive amount of spoiled produce as well.
Therefore, you must do everything possible to ensure your fridge is always in good working order. Check out the following five commercial refrigeration maintenance techniques to keep those costly potential breakdowns at bay.
5 Commercial Refrigeration Maintenance Tips
Keep Everything Dry
The more moisture you have inside your refrigeration unit, the faster it’ll freeze up and fail to function. Clean any spills with a damp washcloth immediately, both inside and out. You should include a manual review for moisture build-up into your scheduled maintenance routine, ideally once per month.
The same logic applies to walk-in refrigeration units. However, there’s an added incentive here as removing spills reduces the likelihood of staff falling over and hurting themselves, as well as the corresponding lawsuits that may arise.
Keep Everything Clean
“Cleanliness is next to godliness,” as they say. And the adage certainly applies to the commercial refrigeration space. The easiest way to keep your fridge functioning like clockwork is to schedule a thorough and regular cleaning session, both inside and out.
Aim to clean the interior and exterior at least once a fortnight. For the interior, first, remove your produce and store it in another unit or an ice-filled esky for the duration of the process. Now, remove any retractable draws and shelves and soak them in warm soapy water before rinsing them clean. Finally, it’s time to tackle the inside of the unit; but you have to be careful. If you’re too forceful or use sharp equipment, you could easily puncture the freezing tubes and cause permanent damage to the unit.
Harsh chemicals are best avoided as they could contaminate the food. Instead, use a soft brush or a cloth with warm soapy water and clean the interior using a firm circular motion, taking into account that plenty of elbow grease is often required.
Again, avoid the temptation to use any course scrubbers or brushes on the exterior as you’ll only scratch the unit, diminishing its aesthetic appeal and potential resale value. Likewise, it’s best to avoid harsh cleaning products on the exterior is these can leave unsightly marks on steel refrigeration units.
Opt for a bucket of warm water with a dash of vinegar or a detergent-based solution and use a cloth or a brush to clean the exterior. Caked-on grease and food will require something stronger such as baking soda paste or a degreaser designed to work with stainless steel.
An essential component to clean is the condenser coil. Otherwise, the cabinet could become too hot, which might, in turn, force other parts to fail. Although specific advice varies between manufacturers, you should generally aim to clean your condenser coil every three months or so.
Turn off your refrigerator and look for a coil residing right near the condenser, then clean off any dust and dirt with a coarse brush. Next, use an air pressure hose or vacuum cleaner to remove any remaining particles from the region. If the coil and the area around it suffer from a build-up of grease, you should consult your manual for advice on how to safely degrease the area.
Watch Out For Slime
Sludge and slime build up over time and will eventually cause your unit to freeze up and stop working, not to mention creating an ungodly smell. Clean out your drain pan at least once a month using a detergent or vinegar-based solution in warm water.
The drain tubes can also clog up with gunk, so it’s best to clean them out at the same time to prevent a blockage from occurring. A pipe cleaner and your preferred degreaser will do the trick.
Maintain the Evaporation Coil
Another essential component is the evaporation coil, which keeps the unit cold by powering the evaporation fan that absorbs any warm air that might make its way inside.
Maintenance is pretty simple: keep the coil and fan free from dust and debris. It’s also a good idea to avoid overstocking the fridge, as blocking off the vents might cause the coil to freeze, which can result in leakage or an elevated cabinet temperature. A refrigerator’s air filter is also prone to become dirty, often from a build-up of grease. Arrange to review and clean the air filters as part of your regular maintenance routine.
Check On the Gaskets
A sure-fire way to waste electricity and spoil good produce is to run a fridge with a broken gasket, which is a crucial mechanical contraption that ensures the door remains sealed firmly shut. If you do come across a broken gasket, don’t just try and replace it with any old substitute; otherwise, it just won’t seal properly, and cold air will escape the unit. Contact your manufacturer and arrange to obtain a gasket for the same model type instead.
Although maintaining a commercial refrigeration unit may seem like a daunting task, the process isn’t all that difficult for those prepared to put in the time and effort. So rather than buy a brand new commercial fridge on sale every time you encounter an issue, try adopting a rigorous maintenance routine to extend the life of your current unit instead.