Having your walk-in cooler fail can be a major disaster for your restaurant. Your product may spoil, and you will probably have to shut down service until you can have the cooler repaired. While not all cooler malfunctions can be prevented, there are four steps you can take to reduce the chances of a breakdown and keep your walk-in cooler in good, working order.
1. Check and Replace Gaskets as Needed
Gaskets are the rubber components that run along the edges of your cooler door, providing a tight seal. If the gaskets on the cooler become torn or loose, then warm air will seep into the cooler. When warm air gets into the cooler, it will have to work extra hard to keep your products cool. Over time, this additional wear and tear can lead to premature malfunctions.
Look over your gaskets every week or two. If you notice that any of them are beginning to break down, then order a new gasket from the cooler's manufacturer. If you give the manufacturer the model number of your cooler, they should be able to recommend the right gasket.
Once the gasket arrives, you should be able to install it yourself. Remove any screws holding the old gasket in place, then slide the gasket out. Some cooler gaskets do not have screws holding them in place. In this case, you can remove the old gasket just by pulling from the corner.
Soak the new gasket in hot water to soften it, and then wedge it into place, if you need to, you can use a rubber mallet to push it into place. Tighten the screws, and admire your work.
2. Keep the Condenser Clean and Free of Obstructions
Your cooler's condenser contains the refrigerant, and in order for the cooler to work, heat needs to easily pass out from the refrigerant, through the condenser coils, and into the air. If the condenser coils become too dirty, this process is prevented. Your cooler may not reach the desired temperature, or it may have to work excessively hard, causing wear and tear that leads to malfunctions. Dirty condensers can also accumulate ice and mold.
Clean your condenser about once a month simply by vacuuming the fins with a shop vac. You can also brush the dust away with a soft brush if you prefer. Make sure you leave clear space on all sides of the condenser so you do not restrict airflow to the unit. If your condenser is outside, make sure all trees and bushes near the unit are properly trimmed to permit airflow.
3. Have the Drain Lines Cleaned
It's common for walk-in cooler drain lines to become clogged with dirt, mold, and debris, causing icebergs to form on the cooler floor. Keeping the drain lines clear is a lot easier than removing ice accumulation.
Cleaning the drain lines is a pretty intense job, so you might want to hire a trained technician, like those at Golden State Repair, to tackle the job. It's usually a good idea to have your drain lines cleaned annually, but your technician may have different recommendations based on your individual cooler.
4. Do Not Stack Items on Top of the Walk-In Cooler
The top of your walk-in cooler may seem like a convenient, out-of-the-way storage space. However, stacking items there can cause the cooler's ceiling to bow or seams to burst open. In addition, six inches of above airspace is required for indoor coolers. This will lead to air leaks, which may keep the unit working overtime to maintain its temperature.
If you have trouble with employees placing items on top of the cooler, then consider posting a sign on the cooler to remind them of this rule.
When you follow the four steps above, your walk-in cooler should continue to operate smoothly and efficiently. Contact us if you're in need of any cooler repairs or maintenance. We're available to help you take the necessary preventative steps and prevent an emergency cooler failure.