Proper refrigeration is essential in the foodservice industry. You need to keep a substantial amount of food items at a consistent, safe temperature for human consumption. To remain compliant with health and food safety guidelines, you need to rely on your walk-in coolers for dependable and spacious cold food storage. Oasis is a family-owned and -operated heating and cooling company you can trust with regular commercial refrigerator maintenance or repairs.
Preventative Maintenance for Walk-In Coolers
When your walk-in coolers and freezers are working correctly, you can decrease food waste, improve food safety and increase your restaurant’s energy efficiency. Regular, proactive maintenance and inspection are essential to prolonging the life of your appliance and increasing its value to you and your business. Using a preventative maintenance checklist can also prevent clogging, breakdowns, food waste and future strife.
Additionally, cleaning and avoiding common mistakes can help you make sure your walk-in cooler performs up-to-speed and meets your business’s needs!
How Do You Clean a Walk-In Cooler?
From everyday spill cleanup to full appliance wipedowns, it is essential to disinfect your walk-in cooler thoroughly. Proper sanitation is critical in the foodservice industry. To execute appropriate maintenance practices, you’ll need to clean your entire unit at least every six months.
So, what are the best ways to go about cleaning your walk-in cooler? Follow this schedule:
- Daily maintenance: Scrub all of your walk-in cooler’s surfaces with a cloth towel and a solution of water and soap or mild detergent. Harsh chemicals may harm your cooler’s metal surfaces. If necessary, you can mix a small amount of bleach with water to clean the inside of your unit. Wipe down the door seals with soap and water or use compressed air to remove dirt and dust. Sweep and mop the floors of any spilled food debris.
- Once a month: You should turn off all power to your unit and vacuum all of the debris that might have built up inside.
- Twice a year: Use water, soap and a stiff bristle brush to clean your evaporator fan and condensing coils. Remember to remove any ice from the evaporator coils.
- Once a year: With the help of a certified technician, make sure your drain lines are free of debris and any runoff buildup.
In addition to checking for debris, Oasis will make sure your electrical connections are tight and in working order.
Common Mistakes Made With Walk-In Coolers
Proper walk-in cooler maintenance takes time, effort and careful observation. It is essential to keep your walk-in cooler performing at its optimal level to ensure your food stays cool and fresh. Our advice can help you avoid these common maintenance mistakes and make a difference to your customers.
1. Cooler Isn’t the Right Temperature
If your walk-in cooler is above the required temperature to store food safely, you risk mold growth and food spoilage. Additionally, if your temperature is too low, it can cause your unit to overwork. It is best to keep food storage appliances at the proper FDA-recommended temperature and regularly check that your walk-in cooler maintains an appropriate temperature. You’ll know that your cooler is retaining its temperature if it is within several degrees of the original thermostat setting. Keeping a written or digital log of your unit’s temperatures can also help you keep track of any unexpected changes.
2. Doors Don’t Seal Properly
Another way to maintain the proper temperature for your walk-in cooler is to make sure your doors seal tightly. Damaged gaskets, the rubber material surrounding your cooler’s doors, can let in warm air, cause ice buildup and ultimately reduce your energy efficiency. Even a tiny leak from tearing or weathering can throw off your unit’s temperature balance. Note that leaving the lights on in your walk-in cooler will also increase the level of heat and cause your evaporator fan assembly to work harder to hold the appliance’s optimal temperature.
3. Dirty Parts and Poor Airflow
You will want to examine your unit thoroughly and take note of any potential areas of concern, as well. Check your evaporator, condensing coil and fan blades regularly, as cleaning your unit’s fan blades will reduce drag and improve your unit’s performance. Also, keep food products stacked away from the central working parts of your walk-in cooler where they could reduce overall air circulation.
4. Not Keeping a Maintenance Schedule
Most importantly, you want to adopt a proper schedule for freezer maintenance. You want to stay ahead of and prevent future complications, so set up a regular maintenance schedule with qualified technicians. Oasis can dramatically improve your walk-in cooler’s performance and provide much-needed reassurance for any areas of uncertainty.
How to Keep Mold Out of a Walk-In Cooler
While warm, moist environments are a haven for mold growth, colder environments with higher moisture levels can also put your freezer’s items at risk. Walk-in coolers are most likely to grow mold due to the frequency of use and a lack of temperature regulation during shutdowns.
Constantly opening and closing a freezer causes air to become trapped. The high level of moisture combined with the abundance of food supply creates an ideal ecosystem for fungal growth. Repeated entries and exits can also throw off your unit’s internal temperature balance. For long-term shutdowns, you want to clean your unit thoroughly and leave its doors open so it can dry completely.
Here are five easy ways you can keep your walk-in cooler and its contents fresh and free of mold:
- Keep your walk-in freezer doors closed: Tightly sealed doors will keep mold spores and humidity from seeping into your cooler.
- Remove paper products: Limit the paper towels or cardboard you keep in your cooler as they can foster mold.
- Wipe down and dry the unit’s interior: Remove excess moisture from standing water or condensation.
- Maintain proper airflow: Ensure that your condensation coil, evaporator and fans are all working to help regulate airflow.
- Clean up messes immediately and quickly: Wipe up any spills from shelves, walls and the floor as soon as possible to prevent the spread of mold.
If you can keep mold from growing in your walk-in cooler, you will provide a far more healthy and hygienic environment for your employees as well as your guests.
Schedule Walk-In Cooler Maintenance or Repairs With Oasis
When you need to repair your walk-in cooler, Oasis Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration will find the right equipment for you and your restaurant. We offer competitive prices for the best quality walk-in cooler repairs, servicing and installations in all of Northern Virginia. We ensure each installation and repair is up to code so you can focus on what matters: preparing delicious and safe meals for your customers. Oasis will guarantee you solutions and quality assistance for any walk-in cooler queries with our industry expertise.
Contact Oasis today to get an estimate and schedule your appointment for walk-in cooler maintenance!