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:
- 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. Clean the fan blades to reduce drag.
- Make sure fan motors are running at optimum speed.
- 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 prevent restricted airflow.
- Do not pile anything on top of the walk-in. This could cause damage to the ceiling panels.
- Occasionally have a 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 the condensing unit and evaporator coil. Replace as needed.
- Hinges should be lubricated once a year to ensure they close 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.
- 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. Replacement of damaged gaskets will ensure your walk-in is efficient and up to local health codes.
How to keep your walk-in cooler or freezer clean:
- Soap and water is the best cleaning method for your walk-in. Do not use harsh chemicals as it may react and harm the metal surface of your walk-in. For chemicals not to use read this pdf.
- Minimum of twice a year use a self-rinsing cleaner, soap and water or stiff bristled brush to clean your evaporator and condensing coils.
- Drain lines – at least once a year, work with a service tech to make sure the drain lines are clean and not clogged with any debris.
- Door gaskets – Regularly wipe down with soap and water to prevent bacterial or mold growth. If door gaskets are damaged, cracked or stiff, the magnet will not seal and will need to be replaced.
- Sweep or mop floors to make sure they are kept clean from food debris that will mold or attract pests.
Mistakes operators most commonly make:
- Turning holding temperature too low for product, this causes the refrigeration to overwork.
- Walk-in manufacturers install a thermostat on the outside of the door that reads the internal temperature of the walk-in. There is a chance that the thermostat is faulty or needs to be recalibrated. Always have a backup thermometer in the walk-in to make sure the walk-in is holding the optimal temperature.
- Stacking boxes or food too close to the door thermometer-sensing bulb or thermostat-sensing bulb can cause a false reading of the temperature in the walk-in.
Advice on safety related issues:
- Make sure you clean up any liquid spills as soon as they happen. This is especially important in freezers as the liquid will start to freeze immediately and can be dangerous.
- Non-skid strips are available for the floors, to ensure a non-slip environment.
- Keep aisles clear and do not overload walk-in by stacking too much in your cooler or freezer. Stack things neatly to make sure you are able to take good inventory of your stock.
- Power outage – A typical walk-in will maintain temperature for about 12 hours as long as door is kept closed. If the power outage lasts longer than 12 hours, consider a back-up generator.