How To Care For Your Walk-In Cooler
Your walk-in cooler is essential for keeping your restaurant running. Without the walk-in, you would have nowhere to keep your meat, produce, and other ingredients. Many restaurants each year have their walk-in coolers fail, which presents a huge calamity and may require them to close for a day or two. But this does not have to happen to you! Follow these tips to take great care of your walk-in cooler, and you'll greatly reduce its risk of failure.
1. Vacuum the condensing coil.
The condensing coil is essentially the "guts" of your walk-in cooler. Refrigerant runs through the coil, and in the process, it absorbs heat from the air circulating past it. The cooler air is then pumped out into your cooler. If the condensing coil gets dirty, the heat won't pass through it so easily, and your walk-in cooler will have to work a lot harder to stay cooler. Over time, this leads to increased wear and tear, increasing your risk of failure.
Luckily, keeping your cooler's condensing coil clean is easy. Once a month, turn the power off to the walk-in cooler. Use a vacuum cleaner to suck dust and debris off the surface of the coil. You may have to use a soft brush to loosen some stuck-on debris. When you're done cleaning, restore power to the cooler.
2. Keep interior surfaces clean.
You might think that keeping the interior of the cooler clean is simply a matter of aesthetics. But if bacteria and fungi build up inside the cooler, they will ultimately get sucked into the cooler's air circulation system. There, they can replicate and start exuding nasty smells, which is definitely not what you want in a food storage area. Bacterial and mold growth can eventually clog the air circulation system and lead to failure.
Make sure you set distinct protocols with your staff regarding cleaning. For example, you may want to have them wipe the cooler shelves from top to bottom every Friday and sanitize the floor every other day.
3. Disassemble and clean the fan.
Another way to keep gunk from building up in the air circulation system is to keep the fan blades clean. Turn the power off to the fan before you do this. First, use a screwdriver to remove the screws that hold the cover over the fan compartment. Then, use a nappy rag dipped in soapy water to wipe each fan blade clean. If there is any mold on the fan blades, add a splash of bleach to your wash water. The bleach will kill any mold and help keep it from growing back. Let the fan air dry, and then put the cover back on before restoring the power.
4. Check the gaskets, and replace them if necessary.
The rubber gaskets that run around the border of your cooler doors are very important. They keep cold air from leaking out. If the gaskets fail and cold air escapes, your cooler will have to work harder to stay cooler, which ultimately increases its risk of failure.
Look over the gaskets each week when you clean the cooler. If they appear torn, worn, or loose, you need to replace them. This is pretty easy to do yourself. Buy a roll of rubber gasket material. Measure the perimeter of the door, and cut the gasket material to the proper length. Remove the old gasket by loosening the screws that hold it in place. Squeeze the new gasket into place, and then tighten the screws again.
To learn more about caring for your walk-in cooler, reach out to a commercial refrigeration repair company in your area.