Walk-in refrigerators play a key role in many commercial kitchens, keeping products cool and at food-safe temperatures. Because this equipment stores food, which would be pricey to lose, perform proactive maintenance at least twice a year.
Use a damp soapy cloth to clean the entire unit inside and out. Food particles left behind are unsanitary, especially if the operator turns off the unit nightly.
Keep door gaskets clean, wiping them down with soap and water to prevent bacteria or mold growth. Also, inspect the gaskets for wear and tear. A gasket that fails to seal will allow too much moisture to enter the compartment and either freeze up the evaporator coil or flood the drain pan or floor of the cooler. If door gaskets are damaged, cracked or stiff, the magnet will not seal, and gaskets will need to be replaced.
To ensure a long service life, don’t pile anything on top of the walk-in. This could damage the ceiling panels. Avoid setting holding temperatures too low for the food items it will hold as this causes the unit to overwork. On outside condensing units, maintain clear and adequate airflow. Do not allow trash or weeds to accumulate around the walk-in.
Clean the evaporator and condensing coil biannually, using a self-rinsing cleaner, soap and water or stiff-bristled brush. If located outside, clean the coils more frequently. Clean the fan blades to reduce drag.
Annually, check for damage or decay in the insulation on suction lines between the condensing unit and evaporator coil. Have a service technician check all electrical connections to make sure these are tight and that drain lines are not clogged. Loose wires could trigger high amperage, which will cause the unit to use more energy. Also annually, lubricate hinges to ensure they close properly. This is not required for self-lubricating hinges with nylon cams. Check the door sweep for tears and make sure it seals properly against the threshold. In addition, check gaskets between panels to make sure they are not cracked or weathered.
When a walk-in runs inefficiently due to wear and tear or does not maintain proper temperatures, the unit needs replacing. Frost buildup on interior panel surfaces typically indicates that the unit is not holding appropriate temperatures for food storage.
Higher electric bills may signify that there are leaks in the unit. If doors are damaged and not sealing properly and the walk-in is more than 10 years old, a new unit may be necessary.
With heavy use, walk-in floors and panels may experience deterioration. Sagging doors allow outside air inside, causing ice buildup on the evaporator coil. Cracks and rust compromise walk-in operation. These are signs that the unit has reached the end of its service life.