If you’re in the food service business, you know your restaurant refrigerator and walk-in freezer are the single most important lifelines. You heavily depend on different equipment to keep your food at the proper temperature, be it a low-boy refrigerator, display case, or blast chillers. It’s all vital to the operation of your eatery and without these, you’d quickly be shutting the doors. Of course, whenever the slightest problem emerges, it’s more than enough to send you into a panic. This is why it’s helpful to know the most common restaurant refrigerator problems so you can be prepared for a quick turn-around fix.
Common Restaurant Refrigerator Problems
To most people, refrigeration is something that’s taken for granted, to restaurateurs, this is indispensable equipment, often costing a lot of money to acquire and operate. When food isn’t stored properly, it not only creates expensive waste, but also, poses a risk to those who consume it. What’s more, it’s not just about the food you serve, but also, what you serve alongside it. For instance, studies have found substantial bacteria levels in restaurant ice that exceed samples taken from toilets. Bad food means foul restaurant odors, something to be avoided altogether.
According to the Center for Disease Control, it is estimated that each year in the United States alone there are 76 million cases of foodborne illness resulting in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. Bacteria and viruses are too tiny to see with your eyes. If you do not wash your hands the proper way or keep food at the correct temperature, your customers may get sick. This is called food-borne illness, which is commonly called food poisoning. Some foods are more likely than others to support the rapid growth of bacteria that cause foodborne illness; these are called potentially hazardous foods (time/temperature control for safety foods). —Arizona Game and Fish Department
One cause might be a bad door gasket. When these deteriorate, they do not properly seal and shelves freeze solid. Two other common restaurant refrigerator problems are units won’t stop running, or, won’t cool at all. Condenser or evaporator fan motors and blades wear out over time and need to be replaced, as well as hinges and latches.
How to Keep Restaurant Refrigerators Running
Fortunately, there are proactive steps you can take to ensure that your food service refrigeration units run efficiently and keep your business and its patrons happy and healthy:
- Schedule regular maintenance. It should go without pointing out; conducting regular maintenance is a must to keep equipment running properly and to prevent problems from occurring. Not only will this help to avoid unexpected interruptions, it will also save money on energy. Plus, when technicians are familiar with equipment they’ve serviced, it is easier to troubleshoot and diagnose the problem, which means less downtime.
- Use the same service provider for all your HVAC and refrigeration needs. One mistake restaurant owners make is to call different service companies out to make repairs. Familiarity is a very powerful tool and technicians will know how various systems are incorporated, which also helps to reduce operational costs and speeds-up the ability for targeted repairs.
- Learn to spot potential problems early on before they become too large to ignore. When you notice fluctuating temperatures, ice buildup, or another unusual sign, it’s best to call your dedicated service provider right away. The problem will only worsen and that can mean a significantly higher cost to repair or even replace.