If you run a commercial business, such as catering or a restaurant, then you know refrigeration is crucial for your business. The food absolutely has to be kept chilled or frozen to ensure it doesn’t go bad. If the food isn’t cold, it’s already old.
It’s important to buy the best commercial refrigeration equipment that guarantees reliability and quality. Once you’ve done that, you should maintain your refrigerator in good condition so that it can serve you efficiently and for a long time.
Regular maintenance helps to prevent major breakdowns and food wastages but that can be costly and disrupt your business. However, DIY maintenance isn’t as expensive as some business owners imagine it is. Here are 7 DIY commercial refrigerator maintenance tips:
1. Regularly clean the interiors and exteriors
You need to consistently clean both the inside and the outside of the refrigerator. You can do this once or twice a week to clean any stains or spills in the units. Exterior spills should also be cleaned before they find their way into an exposed part and cause it to malfunction.
When cleaning the refrigerator, always wipe up any excess moisture. Don’t forget to clean underneath the refrigerator to prevent the growth of contaminants such as bacteria and molds.
Cleaning should be done using a soft brush and warm water or a vinegar solution. Avoid abrasive scrubbers and chlorine cleaners. Tough stains can be removed using a baking soda paste.
Remove the items from inside the refrigerator and place them in a temporary cooler while cleaning. Detachable drawers and shelves should also be removed and soaked in water for a few minutes before rinsing.
2. Don’t forget about the condenser coils
Remember to clean the condenser coils too. It’s advisable to clean the condenser coils at least twice every year, but you can clean them more frequently as they gather dirt. It all depends on your circumstances.
Ensure there’s no build-up of debris and dirt that could clog the coils and increase energy consumption. It’s cheaper to clean it up than call in a technician after it malfunctions.
3. Inspect the evaporator coil
Up next on the commercial refrigerator maintenance tips is turning your attention to the evaporator coil. It’s usually located near the evaporator fan, where it helps to absorb heat so that the interior stays cool.
Before cleaning the evaporator coil, ensure that the power is shut off. Clean the fan and the surrounding area too. This ensures that the coil operates optimally for a long period of time.
4. Clean up tubing and drain pans
The larger your freezers and refrigeration units are, the more slime and sludge you’ll have to deal with. The sludge mostly forms inside the drain pans and the tubing. Allowing them to build up freezes up the units and affects their functioning. They also sometimes overflow and lead to a pungent smell throughout your kitchen.
Regularly clean the drain pans and tubing with warm water and soap or vinegar solution. Periodic inspections also help to ensure there are no blockages on the tubing.
5. Ensure the door seals are okay
The door seals play an important role in your commercial refrigeration unit. Split or cracks on the seal can prevent the door from fully closing. This causes cool air to escape from the refrigerator which can lead to your food getting spoilt.
Each refrigerator comes with manufacturer recommendations for replacing broken door seals. For example, if you’re using a PeakCold refrigerator, then you should replace the broken seal with another one from the same manufacturer. It should also match with the unit’s model and serial number.
Even when you have no cracks or splits to deal with, routinely cleaning the seals helps to keep them in good condition. Grease and dirt usually wear out the door seals over time as well.
6. Clean the air filters
The air filters also get affected by the dust and grease from fryers and griddles. They prevent air from circulating properly but regular cleaning can prevent the gunk from building up in the unit.
You can use a degreasing solution to remove thick grease buildups or a shop vacuum for loose debris and dirt. The service manual should also contain guidelines on how to properly degrease the filter. Split filters should be replaced immediately before they cause more serious problems.
7. Keep the ice maker clean
There are some commercial refrigerators that come with ice makers. If yours has one, then you will need to regularly clean the ice maker too. Unclean ice makers lead to accumulation of bacteria and molds which can contaminate food.
Dirty ice looks vile and you can be held liable if your customers suffer food poisoning. The worst consequence is the loss of reputation and all the rumors that go with it. Ensure you turn off the power and remove all ice before cleaning your ice maker. You can also call in a technician to inspect the ice maker for any mechanical problems and clean it.
After cleaning, ensure that any liquids are wiped off of shelves and surfaces. It’s important to keep your refrigeration dry, so wipe up spills immediately before they freeze up. Regular checkups (at least once a week) also help to ensure there are no moisture buildups. Clean the area around the refrigerator too to avoid accidental slips and falls. They can result in bodily harm to your staff.
Heavy equipment such as commercial refrigerators require regular preventive maintenance to perform at peak levels and for longer periods of time. You’ll get optimal performance if you take good care of your refrigerator.
It’s more effective to perform these easy DIY maintenance tips than to wait for your refrigerator to fail and call in a technician. Downtimes will affect your profits and you could lose customers for closing down for extended periods. Furthermore, the US Department of Energy estimates that simple routine maintenance can help you to save costs by up to 18%. Lower repair costs, peak performance, and happy customers mean more profits for you.
However, some problems, especially electrical and mechanical ones, require commercial grade solutions and expertise. It’s not advisable to go the DIY route with such issues. It’s best to call in an expert to look at it and give advice.