Preventative maintenance of commercial refrigeration equipment helps reduce the risks of equipment breakdown and extends the life of such appliances.

Commercial refrigeration equipment – refrigerators and freezers – are essential and mission-critical equipment in any commercial kitchen. Any malfunction or breakdown can cost your food business a fortune. To reduce the risks of equipment breakdown and extend the life of your equipment, routine cleaning and professional maintenance are a must. Keep the equipment clean and follow the maintenance requirements (set by their respective manufacturers) diligently to reduce both the health and financial risks associated with poorly maintained kitchen equipment. Or, rely on a commercial kitchen maintenance program which provides preventative maintenance such as cleaning of equipment.
Preventative maintenance of commercial refrigeration equipment is far better than emergency repair, as the latter can affect your bottom line and lead to loss of customers and profits as well as food spoilage. You can also save unnecessary kitchen equipment replacement costs with on-time maintenance. Here are some helpful tips that will help to keep your unit clean and performing well.

    1. Avoid emergency breakdowns: Get regular checks by a refrigeration expert, and spot the problems early and fix it, before the equipment breaks down and affects your business. Invest in relatively small cost of regular maintenance so that you won’t face larger commercial refrigeration repair bills later on. You can also check electrical connections to prevent power loss and replace worn parts of your appliances before they cause the unit to shut down.Even if you are vigilant about maintaining your food-service equipment, appliance breakdowns happen. In such situations, develop a protocol for refrigeration interruption:
      • The first rule is to open the fridge and freezer doors as seldom as possible, because if kept closed, a full freezer can maintain a safe temperature for up to 4 hours without power.
      • Install a backup generator
      • Use dry ice in appliances
      • Share appliance space with another business
    2. Avoid the spread of mold and contaminated ice: Dirty and smelly ice can have a negative impact on customers’ health and your business reputation where you may even lose your customers. These problems are caused by dirt and mold accumulating inside your ice maker. Ice machines that are not well-cleaned can carry bacteria and viruses including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli. In the worst-case scenario, your business can end up with health code violations / lawsuits. Even if the machine has an automatic cleaning cycle, it might not provide the same result as that ensured by a refrigeration maintenance expert. Experts dissemble the unit and thoroughly clean all components with cleaning solutions specifically designed for ice machines/refrigeration systems. Cleaning also has the added benefit of increasing the ice yield.

      So, schedule a refrigeration maintenance expert to come in at least twice a year for this preventive maintenance.

    3. Consistently clean the interior & exterior: Be it interior or exterior, try to schedule a thorough cleaning of your entire refrigeration unit on a weekly or biweekly basis. Make sure drips, splashes and splatters are wiped up as quickly as possible and using a soft cloth or brush, slowly scrub the shelves, drain pans, tubes, and surfaces of the refrigerator with cleaning solutions and abrasives that will not harm your refrigeration units. If you can remove the drawers and shelving, soak them for a few minutes, and then rinse. Follow this regularly. Other important areas to keep clean are coils and blades, because when the coils fill with dirt and grime, they work harder, and it may end up having frost build-up inside the unit. However while scrubbing interior or exterior parts don’t use abrasive scrubbers or sponges as well as chlorine cleaners. Instead use a wash cloth or soft brush and for routine cleansing solution use a combination of warm water and a vinegar or detergent-based solution or use a baking soda paste or an appropriate stainless steel degreaser to remove grease or baked-on food.
    4. Check and reduce your energy bills: Regular inspections and maintenance can save up to 5 to 10 percent on energy costs while keeping your units running at optimal performance. This is because, if your condenser coils are dirty then your commercial refrigerators and freezers have to work harder to maintain the temperature inside, and thus using more energy in the process. Similarly, worn gaskets, hinges, door handles or faulty seals cause cold air to leak from the unit, forcing the unit to run longer and use more electricity.

      So for maximum efficiency and minimum power consumption ensure that your refrigeration systems are routinely inspected and serviced.

    5. Have a maintenance contract in place: If problems occur with your commercial refrigeration, it’s better to have a maintenance contract on a reputable company that can provide trained technicians. Such technicians can respond quickly to your breakdown, diagnose the problem and efficiently carry out repairs. Outsourcing to reliable providers will help identify small and emerging issues before they develop into larger and expensive problems.Most importantly, educate yourself on preventive measures such as
      • Clean evaporator and condenser coils
      • Thoroughly clean all ice maker components such as filters
      • Check lines for condensation
      • Clean fan blades and inspect the fan motor
      • Check integrity of insulation
      • Check for air leaks through cracks, holes, and worn parts like gaskets and seals
      • Lubricate door hinges and handles
      • Check for loose electrical connections
      • Clear drain lines of debris
      • Check temperature and defrost settings and calibrate thermometers
      • Check filters on ice makers

Follow these tips to ensure your refrigeration equipment continues to work efficiently for the remainder of its life.
Don’t waste your time worrying about commercial refrigeration equipment breakdowns, instead, take action to prevent the problem. Consult a qualified commercial kitchen maintenance company to put together a customized maintenance plan for your business.