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March 10, 2015

Walk-In Refrigerator Preventative Maintenance Components & Checklist

Written by SmartSense | Food Safety

Commercial refrigerator maintenance begins with understanding your unit


The previous piece in this series looked at home refrigerator maintenance, something many if not all readers are familiar with and in fact may have done themselves. Now they own or are responsible for commercial units in their restaurants, cafés, sandwich shops, food trucks, or bistros. That unit comes with the blessings of cold air and fresh food and the curse of cleaning and maintenance. The message from the first piece in this series is that cleaning and preventive maintenance are needed and the consequences of not doing preventive maintenance can be demonstrated as seen in the first piece in this series. The cleaning and maintenance can be contracted out to commercial services as is done in many national chains, but small business owners may not have the budget for such services. So what can they do themselves?


All refrigerators and freezers, commercial and home units, rely on fans, coils, and a compressor. And they’re all charged with a refrigerant such as fluorinated hydrocarbons such as the family of Freons or newer mixtures of fluorinated hydrocarbons designed to address ozone depletion like R407A.


Download our case study to see how Festival Foods realized a 300% ROI by  reducing employee labor and preventing loss.


The refrigerant is a fluid that can convert from a liquid to a gas and back to a liquid as it is heated up and cooled during the refrigerator’s operating cycle and at temperatures inside the refrigerator (Evaporator Assembly) and inside the restaurant or outside the building (Condenser Assembly). Finding and identifying these systems is demonstrated here.


Back to the question, “What preventive maintenance and cleaning can commercial refrigerator and freezer owners do themselves?” The answer is quite a bit, but not everything. So let’s take a look at the tasks which are assembled from several websites listed below:

  1. Clean condenser coils
  2. Clean evaporator coils
  3. Clean fans and fan grills
  4. Check thermostat vs. actual thermometer
  5. Clean interior and door gaskets with mild detergent
  6. Clean drain lines
  7. Relocate items that block airflow inside or outside of unit
  8. Check door latch and gaskets are intact and working properly
  9. If needed, thaw ice from coils
  10. Listen to note any wobbles, rattles or other unusual noises during operation


Below are links to commercial refrigerator maintenance lists in no particular order. Disclaimer: SmartSense is not endorsing these or any other companies or websites regarding commercial refrigerator or freezer preventive maintenance; links are provided as examples of what the industry offers.

Topics: Food Safety

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