• Maintaining Your Walk-in Cooler or Freezer

    March 8th, 2013

    Whether you run a restaurant, convenience store or a supermarket, your walk-in is an important investment. It should be taken care of to ensure many years of efficient usage. Here are tips from walk-in manufacturer U.S. Cooler for maintaining your walk-in cooler or freezer.

    How to keep your walk-in operating efficiently:

    • torn gasket

      Torn gaskets can let warm air infiltrate the box.

      Close the door when not in use. Do not block or prop the door open for extended periods of time. Make sure it is closed at all times except when entering and exiting the walk-in.

    • Periodically (minimum of twice a year) clean the evaporator and condensing coil. If located outside, the coils should be cleaned more often.
    • Make sure fan motors are running at optimum speed.
    • Clean fan blades to reduce drag.
    • On outside condensing units, maintain clear and adequate airflow. For example, do not allow trash or weeds to accumulate around the walk-in.
    • Make sure there is nothing stacked around the coil to restrict airflow.
    • Occasionally have service technician check all electrical connections to make sure they are good and tight. Loose wires could cause high amperage, which will cause your unit to use more energy.
    • Check for damage or decay in the insulation on suction lines between condensing unit and evaporator coil. Replace as needed.
    • Hinges should be lubricated once a year to ensure the closes properly. (Some hinges utilize self-lubricating nylon cams, so this will not be necessary if that is the case.)
    • Make sure the lights are off when exiting the walk-in. Lights produce heat, which will cause your unit to run more to hold its optimal temperature. Make sure your walk-in has a switch with a pilot light so you can tell if the light is on without opening the door.
    • Do not pile anything on top of the walk-in. This could cause damage to the ceiling panels.
    • Check the door sweep for tears and make sure it is sealing properly against the threshold.
    • Periodically, check gaskets between panels to make sure they are not cracked or weathered. If so, check with your local health codes for the correct procedure to follow as far as repair and replacement. Read the rest of this entry »
  • The Brew Cave on NBC’s Take It All

    January 3rd, 2013

    U.S. Cooler’s Brew Cave had the wonderful privilege to be featured as a prize on a number of high profile game shows in December, one of them being “Take It All”.

    On December 10th, the Brew Cave was a round 1 prize on the premiere of NBC’s weeklong event Take It All. Take It All, hosted by Howie Mandel, is a “yankee swap” style game show in which contestants can take an opponent’s prize or get an unknown prize from the “dream screen”. Here is NBC’s stream of the full Take It All episode.brew cave take it all

    The Brew Cave is a walk-in kegerator for the consumer market that features a LED lit glass door, 4” thick insulation, an external tap and storage space for over 30 cases of beer and 6 kegs. Follow Brew Cave on Facebook or Twitter.

  • Replacing Your Hinges and Latches

    December 18th, 2012

    When replacing hinges and latches for walk-in refrigerators it is important to get an exact or comparable replacement part. The back of the part will stamped with a series of numbers and letters called a mold number. The back may also read “flush” or have the offset size (e.g. 1-3/4″). It is important to have that number on the back to ensure you get the proper replacement. Additionally, having the serial number of your walk-in (often located in the door jamb on the hinge side or in a corner inside panel) can be a huge help if you’re ordering the replacement part from the walk-in manufacturer or your parts supplier.

    hinge with serial number

    Call the walk-in manufacturer or get the mold number off the back of the part.

    Hinges

    Walk-in cooler and freezer hinges are either flush or offset. The easiest way to determine which style you have is to place your hand on the outside wall of the walk-in and slide it towards the door. If the door stops your hand from moving across the door, then you have an offset door. If your hand slides across the door, it is flush.

    Determine the offset measurement by measuring from the wall surface to the door surface. The offset measurement combined with the mold number on the back will ensure you receive the correct hinge.door offset Read the rest of this entry »

  • Reduce Energy Costs in Your Walk-in

    November 26th, 2012

    Whether you own a restaurant, bar or convenience store, your walk-in cooler or freezer is likely one of the largest line items in your energy usage. If you’re looking to reduce your overhead it is imperative you do all you can to optimize your walk-in for maximum energy efficiency. In this article we’ll cover everything from maintaining your refrigeration system to energy saving accessories.

    Maintain your Walk-in

    door with icing

    Investigate icing around your door immediately

    Check your door sweep, door and panel gaskets for any rips, cracks or icing and replace if necessary.  Icing around the door could indicate a failure of the gasket, heater wire, or the door closer. Lubricate hinges twice a year to keep them closing smoothly. Make sure your walk-in is organized and covered items are clearly labeled to reduce the amount of time spent searching for ingredients.

    Maintain your Refrigeration

    Every six months, visually inspect your unit for corrosion, electrical issues, leaks or improper fan operation. Clean the evaporator coil and blades. Make sure the drainage system is clear of any debris. Ensure airflow to the unit is unobstructed.

    There are many more steps to take to make sure your refrigeration unit is running efficiently. Visit this page for more refrigeration maintenance tips.

    Upgrade Your Refrigeration System

    New Department of Energy standards went into effect in 2009. If your walk-in was manufactured before 2009, your refrigeration unit is likely less efficient than newer energy act compliant units. Read the rest of this entry »

  • When to Buy a New Walk-in Cooler or Freezer

    November 14th, 2012
    leaking water

    Freezer panels will sometimes leak water when returned to room temperature.

    Buying a new walk-in cooler or freezer can be a large expense, but so can inflated electricity bills. Depending on how bad of shape your current walk-in is in, a new walk-in could pay for itself within a year or two.

    How long will my walk-in last?

    There’s no set time limit for when you will need to replace a walk-in. This depends on many factors including the original quality of the box, type of insulation used, how well the box and refrigeration were maintained, and if it has suffered any harsh usage. After 10 years or when your warranty runs out, you should do a cost-benefit analysis for purchasing a new walk-in.

    ice accumulation

    What are some signs that I need a new walk-in?

    • If you notice a steady increase of energy bills from month to month, it could be an indication of the gradual decline in the R-value of your insulation.
    • If there is condensation or ice buildup on your walls or ceiling it could be an indication that your insulation has failed and is saturated with water or ice. This moisture accumulation could also be the result of air leaks between panels. Read the rest of this entry »
  • Walk-In Cooler & Freezer Installation Tips

    September 25th, 2012

    All U.S. Cooler walk-ins are test assembled in our plant prior to shipment. This ensures problem free on-site installation. If you have had problems setting up your walk-ins, we have some tips that may be helpful.

    1. Receiving your walk-in: When your walk-in cooler or freezer is delivered by the freight company, it is critically important that you inventory the items delivered.

    packaged for shipping

    Most walk-ins are shipped “knocked down” or in stacks of panels.

    a. You must be sure when you sign the delivery receipt, you have received the freight in good condition and not damaged in anyway. The person signing the delivery receipt is responsible for inspecting the freight.
    b. If you see any damage to the container or boxes, this is a good sign that you may have hidden damage. If you have a camera, take pictures of any damage to your freight, even before it is taken off the truck. Call U.S. Cooler and ask for Customer Service if you see a problem with your shipment. When you call, have your order number available. The order number allows us to pull up all details needed to answer your questions.
    c. Insist that the driver does not leave until your satisfied all freight damage has been noted on the delivery receipt before the driver signs the delivery receipt.

    2. Take time to read the instruction manual and review drawing: Before you get started take out the installation instructions and drawing package. Inventory your parts against the drawing to be sure you understand the layout. If you have any questions on how to assemble the walk-in call U.S. Cooler or the manufacturer of your walk-in and ask for Customer Service.

    3. Make sure your area where the walk-in will be installed is flat: Level is critical when installing a walk-in cooler or freezer. Before installation you should get an exact tolerance of the entire space you are planning to install the walk-in. The longer the box, the more important it is to have a level area. Floorless boxes should be shimmed inside the vinyl screed to prevent gaps and air infiltration. A liquid leveling compound is very useful for floors that are not completely level. Read the rest of this entry »

  • Operating Costs for Walk-In Coolers and Freezers

    September 6th, 2012

    Before purchasing your walk-in, you may be wondering how much it will cost to operate your walk-in.

    Estimates for Standard Sized Walk-ins

    To give you a rough estimate of how much it cost to operate a walk-in cooler or freezer, using the national average of $0.1022 per kilowatt, look at the chart below.

    Cooler Average Cost per month Freezer Average Cost per month
    6×6 $67.50 6×6 $232.96
    6×8 $67.50 6×8 $232.96
    8×8 $120.70 8×8 $232.96
    8×10 $113.84 8×10 $355.24
    8×12 $113.84 8×12 $355.24
    10×10 $144.15 10×10 $355.24
    10×12 $144.15 10×12 $415.73
    Note: The above figures are estimates in a controlled environment; your exact numbers will vary.

    *These numbers were figured using the 12-month rolling average of $0.1022 kilowatt hour cost. According to the Energy Information Administration this is the average cost in the United States for commercial electricity.

    This chart was created using several assumptions that can affect your actual operating cost.

    1. The type of insulation in the walk-in.
    2. Efficiency of the refrigeration system.
    3. Inside and outside temperature of walk-in.
    4. Where the walk-in is located.
    5. The temperature and the weight of the product entering the walk-in.
    6. How often the door is opened.
    7. The age of the walk-in.
    8. Cost of electricity.

    This is just to name a few. If you would like to be more accurate using your electric rate, follow the instructions below. Read the rest of this entry »

  • Troubleshooting Defrost Problems

    August 28th, 2012

    When troubleshooting walk-in freezers, technicians often find a frozen evaporator coil. Although there are several possible causes, one common cause involves the defrost system. For some reason, the system is not properly defrosting the evaporator’s coil on a regular basis. In order to effectively troubleshoot this problem, a technician must understand the design and operation of the defrost systems typically used.

    frozen evaporator coil

    Frozen evaporator coil

    One popular method of defrosting walk-in freezers is the electric defrost system. This is comprised of several components, including a defrost timer, resistive heater(s), defrost termination switch, fan cycling control, and drain line heater. An electric resistance heater is placed on the outer surface of the evaporator’s coils. The energized heater supplies enough heat to completely defrost the coils.

    The resistive heaters used on a typical electric defrost system are sized to provide sufficient heat to effectively defrost the coil’s surface. Their capacity is normally rated in watts per foot. They are shaped to fit snugly onto the coil surface, creating efficient heat transfer during defrosts.

    Most heaters are manufactured for a specific coil, and when replacing these heaters it is best to obtain the OEM replacement. Universal defrost heaters are available, but matching their wattage and shape may be difficult.

    A defrost timer controls the entire defrost operation. It initiates the defrost cycle, controls the operation of the compressor and defrost heaters, and is part of the defrost termination. Defrost timers can be adjusted to initiate defrost from just once a day to several times a day.

    The actual number of defrosts per day depends upon the location of the walk-in. Walk-in freezers are usually designed to defrost once or twice a day. The more humid and warm a location, the more defrosts will be needed. If a system needs to be defrosted more frequently, add only one additional defrost period at a time and monitor the results. Adding too many defrost periods will not be beneficial to the system or the customer.

    In a common wiring diagram for a time-initiated, temperature-terminated electric defrost system the time motor (TM) is energized continuously. Normally closed contacts 2-4 of the defrost timer are wired in series with the compressor and the evaporator fan motor (EFM). Normally open contacts 1-3 are wired in series with the electric defrost heaters and the timer release solenoid (TRS).

    The timer motor controls the operation of contacts 2-4 and 1-3. They work opposite each other. When contacts 2-4 are closed, 1-3 are opened. When contacts 2-4 are opened, 1-3 are closed. When the timer motor initiates a defrost, contacts 2-4 will open and 1-3 will close. This stops the compressor and the evaporator fan motor, and energizes the defrost heaters. Read the rest of this entry »