What could be your worst nightmare in the kitchen? Maybe you are reading this because have just discovered your freezer is not maintaining the set temperature, or you had taken some meat to prepare for cooking and have been overwhelmed by a bad smell.
I suppose it is better late than never to start thinking about maintenance of your fridge or freezer, but first things first. If you are in the food service industry “food safety” should take top precedence. Deal with the food that was in your failed equipment according to the food safety requirements of your location and industry. If your bins are about to get emptied then you are in a bit of luck, otherwise you could have some issues with a smelly bin!
What to do next! Before we get to the tips, you need to confirm that the fault wasn’t as simple as someone leaving the door open. Read our “guide to cold storage temperature monitoring” for help on this. How can you be certain one way or another without some live recording of events? Luckily there are some other things to check which will give some clues as to what has happened. If the following tips don’t help, we would recommend you call your equipment supplier to have them help resolve the issue. If you are looking for a new supplier, please call us. We would love to help.
Prevention is better than cure
As you will be aware, it is better to perform a regular maintenance program than wait for a break down. Generally this can be done in-house although some prefer to outsource this to a contractor that has experience and can perform minor repairs when necessary. We have outlined some tips below to keep your refrigeration running at optimum performance levels.
- Keep food evenly spaced on the shelves and avoid overfilling. This can restrict airflow and create an unbalance in the temperatures.
- Avoid placing hot steamy food directly into refrigeration equipment. If you have large volumes of hot food, cool as much as possible within the 2 hour safe zone before placing in the cabinet. Hot steamy food introduces extra moisture into the unit and also affects the temperature of other items. Breaking down into smaller portions or spreading out can help to cool food quicker. Also, covering hot food with cling wrap can help contain the steam.
- Check for any ice build up inside your refrigeration on the evaporator coil regularly and if this occurs then perform a manual defrost. (Consult your user manual for instructions.) Your unit should have automatic defrost which runs for a pre-set time on a pre-set interval, although sometimes these pre-sets may not be sufficient depending on the climate and various conditions that can be experienced.
- Clean the condenser coils with soft brush attachment on vacuum every 6 months (This period would vary depending on the condition of the environment). Even in a clean kitchen there are particles in the air that can be sucked into the cooling fins on a condenser coil, blocking the airflow. This will lead to poor performance and failure over time.
- Get a refrigeration mechanic to perform a routine maintenance check at least once every two years. They may detect early signs of failure and prevent costly repairs.
Please note that this advice is of general nature. We recommend discussing maintenance intervals, etc. with a local professional that can help with developing sound maintenance plan for your own unique requirements.