When it comes to keeping food fresh for your business, you will need some heavy-duty equipment such as commercial freezers and refrigerators. These supersized refrigeration rooms need special attention and care to prevent contamination and keep food fresh. If you own a supermarket, restaurant, bakery, or any foodservice business, you will have to set aside time and resources to make sure that you avoid costly equipment breakdown.
Commercial walk-in freezers and refrigerators are under a lot of strain. They have to be always working and they need to adjust to constant temperature fluctuations as your personnel walk in and out at various times during the day.
Walk-in Freezer and Cooler Maintenance Guide
Here are several tips to help you with your walk-in freezer and cooler maintenance to ensure you get the most use out of them:
1. Conduct regular inspection and cleaning of the interior
Proper care of your coolers and fridges begins with vigilance. Ensure you or a colleague conducts regular inspections of each layer of the walk-ins each day—conduct spot-checks of the spaces behind your containers, especially those out-of-sight. These areas tend to accumulate food spillage, which can lead to bacteria build-up or possible pest infestations. Wipe down the shelves and mop the floor of the chiller with food-grade disinfectant.
2. Don’t overstock
While commercial equipment is oversized to give you ample space to store all your perishables, don’t be tempted to fill it to the brim. Make sure there is still enough room to walk around comfortably and leave space for cold air to circulate. When there isn’t enough space for air to flow, your food will not be able to cool to appropriate temperatures and your unit may have difficulty maintaining the selected degree of cold as well.
3. Practice FIFO
As with any process in food preparation, you should observe a First In, First Out policy when storing food in your walk-ins. The first of any kind of food acquired should be used or discarded to manage your inventory efficiently and prevent accumulating expired food. Proper food rotation is not only important for managing inventory but is also an important part of walk-in freezer and cooler maintenance. Rotating provides an opportunity to inspect shelving and wipe down surfaces.
4. Seal and label your food containers
Use food-grade containers with rubber gaskets around the openings that create tight seals. Never store open containers or packages of food in your commercial walk-in freezer. This will not only contaminate the food, but it may spread bacteria to other products as well. Indicate their production date properly so you can know which ones are near expiration and need to be disposed of.
5. Clean the evaporators and condensers
Your regular cleaning schedule should also involve the cooling apparatus. Clean out your fridge evaporator fans at least once a week. Cleaning the fan should be done to prevent dirt and dust buildup and clean out any ice or frost that may have settled around it, making the equipment run less efficiently.
6. Do a total shutdown every few months
The condenser coils should be cleaned every two to three months. Shut down your equipment according to the manufacturer’s directions. Using a vacuum cleaner, clear the coils of dust and debris gently. If you don’t feel confident handling this delicate part of the equipment, call your local refrigeration repair company to have an expert technician conduct the cleaning process.
Having refrigeration equipment is a significant investment. Understanding what is required from your walk-in freezer and cooler maintenance can help you avoid equipment downtime. A broken freezer may cost you not only expensive repair and parts replacement but also precious food and inventory. When your walk-ins operate efficiently, you can support your business’s smooth operations. Prevent breakdowns by performing regular maintenance, conducting frequent cleaning, and practicing safe food storage policies.
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