Commercial Refrigeration Troubleshooting Guide

No matter what industry you are in, commercial refrigeration systems definitely pull their weight when it comes to keeping products, supplies, and food safe and cold.

Because they work harder than standard home refrigerators, they suffer more wear and tear, which can lead to a number of problems and issues.

And when you dedicate your time, money, and energy to setting up the refrigeration in your commercial kitchen, you want to protect your investment!

This commercial refrigeration troubleshooting guide will help you identify some common issues that you can fix yourself.

However, some problems require the expertise of a refrigeration expert – and we’ll talk about those too.

Let’s get started!

Common Commercial Refrigeration Issues

Commercial refrigeration units don’t last forever, and over time you may start running into some issues with your equipment.

However, not every issue is cause for alarm, and there are many that you can rectify yourself!

Here are some common issues you may face and some commercial refrigeration troubleshooting tips:

Temperature Issues

If your refrigerator is set to the required temperature, yet your food is not staying cold, there may be an issue with the thermostat.

Alternatively, your commercial unit may have a dirty fan, refrigerant leaks, a faulty compressor, or limited airflow.

What Can I Do?

Double-check the temperature on the thermostat before assuming there is a mechanical issue.

You should also ensure that the refrigerator has space between the back and the wall to allow proper air circulation.

Lastly, check to see that the doors are sealing properly.

Lighting Problems

Lighting problems are a common issue that can be simply caused by a burnt-out bulb or disconnected lights.

What Can I Do?

If you need to replace the bulb, make sure it is one that is approved by your unit’s manufacturer. Using non-approved bulbs can burn out the light’s electrical sockets.

Power Issues

If your commercial refrigeration unit is not powering up, you need to act quickly to avoid lost products and spoiled food. 

Sometimes, it could be that the power plug became unattached or the switch was turned off.

However, if this is not the case, you need to contact a professional immediately to ensure a swift repair.

What Can I Do?

Check the power plug and switch to ensure nothing was pulled or turned off by mistake. 

You can also use a voltage detector to check the wall outlet and ground wires to see if there are any issues with the wiring.

Ice Buildup

Frost can build up in your commercial refrigeration unit due to defective door gaskets, poor air ventilation, or the doors being left open for too long.

These issues will cause warm air to enter your unit, leading to condensation that eventually turns into frost and ice.

What Can I Do?

Check your refrigerator’s defrost cycle to make sure it is set up correctly.

You should also take a look at the coils and clear them of any dirt and debris since this can also cause an ice buildup.

When to Call a Professional

technician stands with kitchen worker signing papers

While there are certain issues you can tackle with commercial refrigeration troubleshooting tips, some problems with your equipment will require the expertise of a refrigeration professional.

Especially if your unit has stopped working altogether!

Here are some commercial refrigeration issues that will require professional care:

Strange Noises

Commercial refrigeration units normally make noise, but strange noises, such as banging or grinding, can indicate a problem.

Strange noises are usually caused by issues with the compressor, fans, motor, or other mechanical issues.

Because this is likely an internal issue, this problem should be addressed by a professional.

Leaks and Puddles

There are a number of reasons why puddles may be forming around the bottom of your fridge, and while you can easily mop up the mess and carry on, this type of issue needs to be looked at by a professional.

There could be clogs within the system, or the water may not be able to reach the drain due to the unit being unlevel.

However, there can also be internal damage causing leaks and puddles.

Increased Bills

If you notice a significant jump in your electricity bill, it’s possible that your commercial refrigeration unit isn’t working properly.

Not only can this negatively impact your finances, but if your equipment is using up more electricity, that means it’s working harder than it should – this can lead to wear and tear, breakdowns, and more.

Ignoring a unit that is not energy-efficient can end up costing you more in repair bills down the road.


Commercial refrigeration units don’t last forever, and when they reach the end of their lifespan, they lose efficiency and can stop working altogether.

While you can continue to repair your unit, the cost of the repairs may begin to outweigh the cost of a new unit.

A professional refrigeration technician can help guide your decision of whether or not it makes sense to continue repairing your equipment or if it’s time for a new fridge.

Commercial Refrigeration Maintenance

The best way to avoid issues altogether is to perform regular maintenance on your commercial refrigeration unit!

Commercial refrigeration maintenance will help you avoid costly repairs and replacement of your refrigeration equipment.

It will also help extend the life of your commercial fridge, improve efficiency, and reduce downtime.

While there are certain maintenance steps you can perform on your own, it is recommended that you take advantage of a Preventative Maintenance Program offered by an expert HVAC company.

At Advantage Refrigeration, we offer plans that are tailored to your business’s unique needs to give you peace of mind when it comes to the operation of your commercial refrigeration unit!

Commercial Refrigeration Repair & Maintenance in Edmonton

Advantage Refrigeration is dedicated to offering exceptional services for your business’s refrigeration needs.

From maintenance programs to 24/7 emergency service, we have your Edmonton business covered!

Contact us today for more information.