5 Easy Freezer Case Troubleshooting Steps You Can Do Yourself

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Usually, commercial freezer and refrigerator cases in grocery stores don't mix well with do-it-yourself approaches to repairs. However, this doesn't mean an enterprising manager or store owner should avoid doing some basic troubleshooting to get a better grasp of the problem before calling for professional maintenance. Taking the time to record symptoms and try basic fixes could save you thousands of dollars in repair calls over the course of a year.

Observe the Fans

Listen and look for movement from the evaporator fans responsible for blowing the air around the condenser so it can cool. These fans often block up with ice or dust, so if you can't hear them spinning and the blades look still, you likely need a service visit for maintenance. The evaporator fans can also break down or get disconnected from power sources. You can find this fan on the interior of the freezer unit, usually on the ceiling of each case.

Look For Ice

Aside from frost that blocks up the interior fans of the cooler, check the evaporator coils and condenser unit on the back for ice build up too. Commercial refrigeration units are particularly prone to ice development because of the large volume of cooling the equipment provides. If you find half an inch of ice covering every part of your evaporator coils, don't try and defrost the unit yourself. This is a clear sign something is wrong with the condenser or the automatic defrosting technology, so call a technician immediately when you notice serious ice accumulation.

Adjust the Humidity

Sometimes the cause of a problem lies outside of the freezer case or cooler instead of inside it. Wet and foggy glass doors obscure the customer's view of the product and lead to water pooling at the bottom that freezes and interferes with airflow. Before assuming there's something malfunctioning with the freezer, ask yourself a few questions like

  • Has the ambient indoor humidity level in the store risen recently due to a rainstorm or heat wave?
  • Does the store have dedicated dehumidification or air mixing equipment to manage humidity levels?
  • Did air flow decrease recently due to changes in air conditioning or ventilation patterns?

Wet and frost accumulating freezer doors are most commonly caused by high humidity in the store, not a problem with the refrigeration equipment. Try setting up a few fans to blend the hot and cold air better around the cool aisles and check for a reduction in fogging and condensation.

Check the Power

It's all too often the simplest problems that take the longest to solve because everyone overlooks the most obvious cause. Before panicking because your refrigeration units won't start at all, trace the power cord back to the source and look carefully for cracked insulation or a bent plug. Double check the breakers too, and give the unit at least 15 minutes to prime the condenser and circulate air once you restart it before deciding it's broken.

Listen for Noises

Your ears are one of the best tools for troubleshooting commercial refrigeration equipment with no training. Condensers act as the workhorse for the cooling unit, so a failed one needs immediate replacement no matter the cost. Rule out condenser problems or prepare for the expense by:

  • Standing next to the condenser unit while a helper turns the freezer on and off
  • Listen for a steadying humming
  • Take note of a faint hum followed by an immediate metallic clicking noise, which indicates the condenser motor is locked up
  • Check the power supply again if you hear nothing at all from the condenser

You can also check the operation of the condenser and evaporator fans by listening for their hum, even when they're tucked away inside the case and hard to see. Once you have a better idea of what the problem might be, contact local commercial refrigeration services for repairs. 

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14 July 2015

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