When you own a restaurant or any business that requires commercial refrigeration, discovering that your unit stopped working overnight can be an absolute nightmare.
Before you make the decision to throw out the fridge’s contents, it’s important to understand the steps to take after discovering that your commercial refrigeration quit overnight – it may be possible to save your product! It’s also important to understand what causes commercial refrigeration units to break down so you can avoid this disastrous issue in the future.
Before disaster strikes and negatively impacts your business, here is everything you need to know about commercial refrigeration malfunctions and how to deal with it.
5 Common Causes of Refrigeration Malfunction
The best way to diagnose and fix an issue with your commercial refrigeration is to call in the experts who can rectify the problem quickly.
However, knowing what issues to look for can help you prevent them in the first place:
1. Voltage Surge
Power surges can cause an increase in voltage which leads to an inrush of electrical current. This surge creates an excessive amount of heat which can damage components of your commercial refrigeration unit.
The component most likely to be damaged includes the control board and the compressor. Because the control board is the most sensitive part of your refrigerator, it can easily be damaged by a voltage surge. Luckily, control boards can be repaired and replacement is inexpensive and easy.
A voltage surge can also damage the windings inside the compressor that controls its start and run functions. Compressors are not cheap to fix and often require replacement if they are damaged.
2. Compressor Failure
The compressor is the most crucial component of a commercial refrigeration unit and, without one, the refrigerator cannot function. The functionality of a compressor diminishes with age causing it to seize and lock. When this happens, you may notice a humming sound as the compressor attempts to start and it may be hot to the touch.
3. Fan Motor Failure
Over time, the fan motor bearings can become plugged up with dirt which prevents the motor from working. Fan motors can usually be replaced.
4. Dirty Condenser Coils
Another common cause of refrigerator malfunction is dirty condenser coils. Without regular cleaning, the coils can become clogged with dust and dirt which prevents heat to efficiently transfer from the refrigerant to the air. This will cause the compressor to overwork itself and fail. Routine cleaning of your condenser coils can help prevent this issue.
5. Lack of Maintenance
While normal refrigerators can last a long time with little routine maintenance, commercial units need more care. Wear and tear can cause issues with the compressor, fan motor, and allow dirt to accumulate in the condenser coils.
In order to prevent your commercial refrigeration unit from quitting, especially during the night, it’s important to have an expert HVAC team maintain and inspect the unit on a regular basis.
Commercial Refrigeration Malfunction: First Steps
Your first step when your commercial refrigeration quits overnight is to call a repair service. Time is of the essence when it comes to saving your business’s foodstuff, so don’t hesitate to call a certified technician – especially one that offers 24-7 emergency service!
After you’ve made the call, here are the next steps you should follow:
Once perishables have gone unrefrigerated for longer than 2 hours, they may no longer be safe. At this point, you may want to throw out the food to avoid any health risks. Taking appropriate precautions can extend this period of time but you still have to be certain that perishable items are safe to consume.
Typically, the temperature of your refrigerator should be 40℉ (4°C)or lower with the freezer at 0℉(-18°C). Your refrigerator should have a thermometer inside the appliance, but you should also use a food thermometer on each item to ensure it is safe for consumption.
Prioritize and Separate Foodstuff
If the food has maintained a safe temperature, take inventory of your commercial refrigerator and decide which items are a priority. For example, some foods need refrigeration more than others while others can safely survive for a short time in a cupboard (condiments, soft drinks, etc.). However, high-priority foods need to be kept cool in order to stay safe and fresh. Move these items to the coldest section of a backup fridge to prevent them from spoiling.
Find an Alternative
If you don’t have a backup fridge at your business to store food, consider loading coolers with ice, ice packs, and colder food items to keep food fresh until your commercial refrigerator is fixed. You can even move items into the freezer even if that portion of your unit is not working. This will give you more time to protect the food until your fridge is fixed.
In a pinch, you can pack your refrigeration full of ice to keep the interior cold. This will give you a few hours until the internal temperature starts to rise but the fridge will eventually start to lose cool air as the temperatures even out.
Keep an eye on the temperature inside your refrigeration unit. Once the temperature gets too low, food will start to spoil.
Don’t Put Your Business at Risk!
Even if you can troubleshoot the cause of your commercial refrigeration breakdown, can you really afford to take the time to have it fixed? When it comes to saving your food and avoiding closure, acting fast can make all the difference.
This is why Advantage Refrigeration offers 24-7 emergency service in the Edmonton area. Should you find yourself facing a refrigeration unit that quit overnight, you can rest assured that our team can get it up and running in no time – saving you lost time and profit!
Our team of expert HVAC technicians at Advantage Refrigeration believe that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is why we offer maintenance packages that ensure your commercial refrigeration unit is routinely inspected to avoid any future issues.