As a restaurant owner, you already understand how important your commercial appliances are to your business’s day-to-day operations. And this, of course, includes your reach-in refrigerators.
Responsible for keeping food and beverage chilled at the perfect temperature; when these appliances start to malfunctioning, it’s not long before it can start costing you money.
Now, in some cases, you’ll need to call in a professional appliance technician to repair your issue. But before you do, there are a few simple troubleshooting steps you can take, which might save you a bit of money on the cost of your repairs.
Common Problems With Reach-In Restaurant Refrigerators
While we don’t often think about it, refrigerators function by using a fairly simple principle.
For instance, any refrigeration unit has a condenser pump that helps circulate coolant, also known as freon, throughout a system of condenser coils, which are typically located either behind or underneath your unit.
Then, there will also be an internal fan that will help circulate the cool air inside the unit itself.
With that said, when any of these components stop working properly, you’ll start running into issues with your appliance.
Refrigerator Takes Too Long To Cool
If you notice that your refrigerator isn’t cooling down as fast as it once did, it’s most often caused by dirty condenser coils that are having trouble properly dispersing the heat generated by the unit.
To check this, take a look at your condenser coils. If they appear to be covered in dirt, dust, and food grease, this is likely the source of your problem. While you can purchase a special brush to clean these, you can also use a vacuum to clean them.
However, before you do, first unplug your refrigerator and allow the coils to cool down to avoid burning or injuring yourself. Then, vacuum or scrub your coils before wiping them down with some soapy water and a cloth.
Next, plug the unit back in and check to see if you’ve resolved the issue.
Door Won’t Close Properly
When your unit’s door doesn’t close properly, this can cause a few common issues, such as excessive condensation inside your unit, or the unit won’t be able to maintain the proper temperature.
If this is the problem you’re experiencing, it’s usually related to a worn-out door gasket or an issue with the door latch or switch.
To check the gasket, try placing a piece of paper in the opening and closing the door on it. Then, with the door closed, try to remove the piece of paper by pulling it out.
If your door is forming a proper seal, you should feel quite a bit of resistance when you pull on the paper. Alternatively, if the piece of paper slips out easily, you can be sure that your gasket isn’t forming a proper seal.
On the other hand, you could have a broken door latch or switch preventing the door from closing properly. However, to diagnose this, you’ll likely need to use a multimeter to test for continuity, which is best left to a professional.
Basic Diagnostic Tips
While repairing your unit is best left to the pros, diagnosing your problem’s source can sometimes be done by yourself.
Below, we’ll go over a few simple diagnostic and maintenance tips.
Commercial Refrigerator Maintenance
Like any appliance, without a bit of proper maintenance and care, you’re bound to run into issues and frequent breakdowns.
That’s why we recommend performing a bit of simple maintenance at least twice per year, which ensures your appliance will function at its optimal capacity at all times.
For this, it’s important to clean the inside and outside of your unit, including any vents that might occasionally become blocked due to a build-up of dust.
Ensure the Door Closes Properly
As mentioned above, you’ll also want to check that your unit’s doors are closing properly and forming a good seal. This helps keep the cool air trapped inside as much as possible and keeps the warm air out.
Over time, your unit’s door gasket will dry up and wear out; therefore, if you can see any visible signs of damages to your door gaskets, such as cracks, rips, or tears, you can be sure that it’s time to replace it.
Make Sure Condenser Coils Do Not Overheat
Once again, when your condenser coils are gummed up with dirt, dust and debris, they won’t be able to properly disperse their heat, which can lead to your unit overheating.
This is precisely why it’s vital to clean your condenser coils at least twice per year.
Not only will dirty condenser coils prevent your unit from cooling properly, but if left unaddressed, it can also cause other components, such as your condenser pump or internal fans, to work harder than necessary, which can lead to them wearing out prematurely.
Avoid Opening the Fridge Door Too Often
Although this is easier said than done, especially in a restaurant setting, opening and closing your refrigerator door too often will cause its components to wear out faster than expected.
For instance, this puts additional strain on the door hinges, gasket, and latch/switch, which are all vital components that keep your reach-in refrigerator working properly.