Troubleshooting Commercial Refrigerators

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Commercial refrigerators are essential to the operation of a kitchen. When your refrigerator stops cooling properly or breaks down you have a major problem because food and stock need to be kept cold. Here we have complied a list of common problems and potential fixes to help you with troubleshooting commercial refrigerators.

The Basics of Troubleshooting Commercial Refrigerators

My fridge doesn’t seem to be running

The first thing you should do is make sure that the fridge is plugged in properly and pushed in all the way. It might have come loose when someone was cleaning. While you are there make sure that the switch for the socket is switched on, and check the power cable to ensure there is no fraying or damage to the power cord, plug or wall outlet. Any broken or loose fittings or wiring can cause the fridge to short circuit and/or the power to trip. If everything there seems to be fine, there may be an issue with the power supply to the power outlet. If you have a non-contact voltaged detector you can use this to check if there is any power coming to the outlet.

If you use an extension cord for commercial refrigerators, most often you will be voiding the warranty.

My fridge light is not working

This is a minor issue and you can often buy replacement lights from a loacl hardware store. Just make sure that the bulb is the verified and suitable for the refrigerator. Otherwise you run the risk of burning the socket out. So make sure you read the manual and recommendations.

Make sure you always put the diffuser or cover over the lightbulb when you finish replacing the bulb. If you haven’t replaced the cover and the bulb explodes or cracks, you might have to throw away all your stock.

My refrigerator is leaking

There are a few reasons why your fridge may be leaking. Firstly make sure that the door is closed. Then have a look at the level of the floor. Is it sloping? Is your fridge level and not tilting. If the fridge is tiliting the water from the evaporator pan might be filling and overflowing onto the floor. If the fridge is level, double check the drip pan. It might be that the drip pan is full and you might need to empty the pan and if it has a chamois in it (this is typically cardboard or material piece that is there to help absorb the moisture) check them to make sure that they aren’t mouldy or old as they might need replacing.

If your drip pan is unusually full you may have an issue with the heater for the pan, or where the fridge is placed is too humid and the fridge can’t cope with the extra moisture.

My fridge is not cooling properly

Double check the power to ensure everything is connected and working properly with the power. Ensure the fridge has enough ventilation around the unit. Refrigerators generate heat and if operated in confined spaces, or a cupboard it can cause the room to become very hot, and can cause stress on the refrigeration unit.

Ensuring that there is ventilation is necessary to ensure that the condenser is not over worked. So double check that there is enough space around the unit (on all sides) and ensure that there are no boxes etc. stacked on top or blocking fridge vents as this will affect the performance of the unit. Double check the internal temperature with a thermometer to confirm that the reading on the thermostat is correct. If the reading is incorrect then the thermostat may be broken or the vents are blocked.

It is imperative to ensure that the product in your fridge is evenly distributed and there is space for the air to flow around the product. If you pack the product in, this will stop the airflow and your fridge won’t cool properly.

If the reading is right, perhaps your fridge is loosing air through the door because it isn’t sealing properly. Check the door seals (gaskets) to make sure that they are all in good condition. Regular opening and closing of refrigerator doors can cause the seals to wear and tear quite quickly/easily. If your seals are torn or worn out then you might be losing cool air this way. A way that you can check this is by placing a high powered torch inside th fridge with the light facing the door. Turn all the lights of in the kitchen and if you can see any of the light coming out of the fridge, you will need to replace the seals, which can be done by calling the manufacturer, or a company that specialises in replacing door seals.

Make sure that you don’t place any hot or warm product into the fridge as this may cause the evaporator to ice and the internal temperature to rise, and make the condenser work longer and harder to cool the temperature again.

So if it is not cooling and the gaskets and thermostat are working, then the problem might be the compressor – the compressor is the part that distributes the refrigerant/coolant through the condenser and evaporator. Typically the compressor will make loud noises when there is a problem with it. Compressors are sealed so you will typically have to replace the entire part. If the compressor is ok, then the condenser may be the culprit. The condenser’s job is to remove the heat from the refrigerant/coolant so that it can be used to remove heat from the air when the refrigerant travels back into the evaporator. So make sure that the coils of the condenser are clean and free from dust. If there is a lot of dust gathered around the coils this will act as insulation and stop the heat from being removed. In some cases the coil can get damaged and crack. If this happens the refrigerant will leak. If it isn’t the condenser, then check the evaporator. The evaporator removes the heat from inside the unit, if this is frozen it won’t work properly. Make sure that the coil is clean and the drain line is clear. Whilst checking the condenser and evaporator, just have a look to see if there are any fans and make sure that they are moving freely.

Unsure about any of this or still can’t get your fridge working?

That’s ok, Refrigeration Technicians are far more experienced than you and me when it comes to diagnosing a problem with your refrigerator. So call your local technician, book a technician online with mendr AND save $20 for booking via the web. mendr technicians have many years of experience, are prompt and professional about their work. We repair various types of cooling systems including commercial freezers, door fridges or chillers, upright fridges and food displays. We pride ourselves in delivering great customer service and delivering on our promises. If you are not happy with any of our services, we want to know and we want to make it right.

Looking for more information on how to keep your commercial refrigerator running?

Read a few of our other resources here:

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