Most refrigeration failures can be traced directly to neglect and lack of maintenance, according to Mitch Byrne, President of Northeast Cooling. He added that operators that receive quarterly planned maintenance have “virtually no breakdowns.”
Qrsmagazine.com states, “maintaining your refrigeration equipment can potentially save between 5 and 10 percent on energy costs.” With as much as 50 percent of your foodservice operation’s energy bill accounting for refrigeration, you can see why it is important to maintain your units to limit energy usage and costs.
Refrigeration will likely not fail without warning – monitoring holding temperatures, how long your refrigeration’s cooling cycles are, food shelf life, and an ear tuned to the compressor can help you avoid costly and catastrophic breakdowns.
Setting up a preventative maintenance contract will undoubtedly help your equipment “operate better, last longer and have less down time,” said Wayne Sneel, a Preventative Maintenance Administrator at All-Temp Refrigeration. You can prevent a refrigeration failure nightmare from becoming reality by investing in a planned maintenance contract and following these simple steps.
Refrigerator Components to Monitor and Maintain:
- Most condenser problems arise from heat related issues. When the condenser is clogged with dust, dirt, and grime, it forces the condenser to work harder.
- This not only stresses you condenser, it wastes energy and increases your utility bill.
- “All of that grime builds up as insulation. The condenser can’t eject heat… the refrigerant gets too hot and starts damaging other components,” according to Fermag.com.
- Failure to maintain condenser coils will increase electrical consumption and lead to major failures such as burnt wiring, a damaged condenser fan motor, a restricted metering device or a damaged compressor.
- This expensive repair can be avoided with planned maintenance. Wouldn’t you rather spend money on keeping your coils maintained compared to spending money on “four to six hours of labor – a $1,000 - $1,400 repair for a $20 part?”, Byrne pointed out.
- With a planned maintenance contract a service technician will routinely rid your condenser coils of accumulated dust, grease, and grime.
- Gaskets can make a big difference in your refrigeration’s performance. A cracked or broken gasket allows unwanted warm air in and allows the expensive, chilled air to escape. When the condenser has to work harder to make up for lost chilled air, the chances of burning out your condenser coils is much higher.
- The drain lines are vital to your refrigeration’s functioning because it allows interior condensation to escape. If drain lines are clogged, the built up condensation has no where to go creating flooded interior spaces. This creates a harsh environment for the condenser to do its job and increases the chance of it failing.
- Since door hinges are an important part of how you access your refrigeration, it’s important to make sure they are properly aligned and lubricated. This avoids compromising the door seal and avoid energy loss.
- Seals pick up dust and dirt that can prevent them from properly sealing and can cause component erosion.
Quick Tips For In Between Planned Maintenance:
- Check your gaskets weekly
- Check any visible drain lines for clogs or leaks monthly
- Lubricate your door hinges annually
- Keep all foods, oils, and containers away from drain openings
- Check door sweep for tears
- Leave breathing room around your refrigeration and keep it away from heat sources
- Keep acidic foods sealed. High levels of acidity in foods like tomatoes and pickles contribute to the corrosion of your refrigerant lines.
- Do not leave doors propped open for an extended amount of time
- Turn off the lights when walk-in isn’t in use. Leaving lights on produces extra heat making your condenser work harder.
- Purchase strip curtains for walk-in units to minimize the amount of hot air entering
- Keep your walk-in between 35-40 degrees, a lower temperature will overwork the equipment
To learn more about Preventative Maintenance visit www.ClarkServiceGroup.com
Written By: Emily Shuler
Edited By: Marcie Byrd