6 Maintenance Tips for Keeping Your Walk-In Cooler in Working Order

6 Maintenance Tips for Keeping Your Walk-In Cooler in Working Order

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Trouble is usually preventable. In big issues and small, prevention is smarter than paying for the following results. This goes for mechanical things, too. Let your car, washing machine, or walk-in cooler go without attention to the signals and symptoms, and you multiply your stress and costs.

The U.S. Department of Energy explains: “As defined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), ‘walk-in cooler’ and ‘walk-in freezer’ (WICFs) mean an enclosed storage space refrigerated to temperatures, respectively, above, and at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit that can be walked into, and has a total chilled storage area of less than 3,000 square feet.”  

You’ve seen them in butcher shops, beer distributors, and other wholesale and retail environments. But homeowners are installing them in larger kitchens, caterers find them convenient, and restaurants can’t do without walk-in coolers.

So, how do you keep yours in good shape?

You should be present at installation. Watching closely helps you understand how things work. Then, read the manual in detail and file it where you can get your hands on it. It helps to bookmark the sections about warning signs needing your attention.


  • Maintenance Plan: You should explore the guaranty and warranty in advance of purchase. You need to know what is covered and what is not and for how long. For instance, you should be clear on what parts and services are protected. The specifics of the guarantee can make or break your buying decision if it adds value to the deal.


Investing in a maintenance plan calling for regular visits by the vendor or technicians can save you major expenses. You should consider how much you use the walk-in cooler. The machine’s performance is tested every time the door opens and closes, so higher volume taxes the mechanics. A good maintenance plan provides service by a trained technician on a schedule convenient for you and necessary to top performance—even beyond the expiration of the guarantee.


  • Clean Machine: Much of the walk-in cooler is accessible to you for convenient and regular maintenance. The cleaner you can keep the cooler, the more likely it will perform like new. There are cleaning tasks you can do, but others should be left to professionals. The chores “assigned” to you are covered in the manual and guarantee.


For example, you can and should clean the condenser unit with a shop-vac on a monthly schedule. You can also clean fans and vents with recommended detergents. There are drains and catch pans that need attention. And, you must sweep and mop floors and wipe down walls monthly because you want to maintain the machine and you must meet or exceed sanitation requirements.


  • Routine Inspection: If you use the appliance or delegate its use, someone must run routine inspection checks. The easiest way to run your own inspection is to link it with your regular cleaning. When washing walls, for instance, you can check the seams where panels join for damage, deterioration, and separation in the sealing materials.


But most problems involve the doors. The cool or freeze is only as good as the door is tight. You can make some adjustments manually, and the manual will describe them. Beyond that, you must check the gaskets and the vinyl protector at the bottom for tears and pliability. These elements are subject to the most wear and tear and necessary to temperature control.


  • Monitor Temperature: Walk-in coolers run steadily, so you must monitor the temperature controls. Keeping watch will save the use and cost of energy. Maintaining an energy-smart temperature will save excessive wear on the operating systems. You can read more now that the energy concern is “of critical importance, because not only does energy efficiency correspond directly with cost and performance, it is also subject to government regulations that must be followed to remain compliant with federal law.”


With the help of the cooler installer, you should set up the thermostat to control temperature according to your use and needs. After that, you should leave it alone and prevent other users from changing the settings. If you do notice the settings are not serving your needs, it’s time to revisit the thermostat with your technician. Food Safety Magazine recommends, “Make a temperature map of the inside of storage and walk-in refrigerators by placing several thermometers throughout the unit and take readings at 10- to 15-minute intervals during periods of temperature recovery. The coldest section of the refrigerator should be used for potentially hazardous foods.”


  • Place It Well: The size of walk-in coolers and freezers presents a problem. They do take up space, but they also require some space around their location. Restaurant and retail designers have a sense of the space required. But it is common for management to forget these needs ignoring the stacking of supplies and storage next to and behind the machines.


Coolers require specific space to breathe. They take in air and expel evaporation, so they must have room. Fans and condensers must run at optimum speed. For condensers to work efficiently and safely, the air must flow freely around the unit. Its environment must be free of interference.


  • Electrical Charges: Coolers run on electricity, and electricity means wiring you can’t ignore. The wiring feeding the appliance and the wiring inside are taxed constantly. The outside wiring is delivering a higher volume than household demands. And, the inside wiring is subject to the pressures of cold, condensation, and evaporation.


If lights turn on when you open the door, the mechanism needs checking. If you operate interior lights by a switch, it needs occasional inspection. And, the thermostats, fans, and condensers require the scheduled attention of an electrician who understands amperage, insulation, and energy consumption.

Proper maintenance is a gift that keeps on giving!

Maintenance is an investment worth making. Keeping a walk-in cooler running well saves money and worries. It reduces energy consumption, wear and tear replacement, and offers peace of mind.

It’s your job to keep it clear and clean, monitor temperature inside and outside the cooler, and make a routine eye and hand inspection. But you need professional maintenance service to prevent, reduce, and eliminate fundamental operating, electrical, and plumbing problems. It will pay off!

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