Keep Your Cool this Summer – Refrigeration and Ice Machine Maintenance tips
As summer temperatures climb, restaurant owners must confront the added challenges the heat brings to maintaining their refrigeration units and ice machines. The performance of these crucial appliances is often taxed to the limit during this period, making it essential to prioritize their effective operation and longevity. Here are some key considerations to keep your refrigeration and ice-making equipment running optimally during the summer months.
Routine preventive maintenance can significantly increase the efficiency and lifespan of your equipment. It includes cleaning and inspecting components, replacing worn-out parts, and correcting minor issues before they escalate into significant problems. Professional technicians can identify potential problems that may not be visible to the untrained eye, making preventive maintenance a worthy investment. Ensure to schedule regular check-ups, especially before and after the summer season. If you have your units on a program with your food service equipment company, ask them to come out sooner rather than later to take a look at your equipment. If you do not have a program, call us at DEI Foodservice Equipment & Design, and see if we can evaluate your equipment soon and advise you on a program.
Refrigeration units and ice machines generate heat as a part of their cooling process. This heat needs to be effectively dissipated to prevent the units from overheating. Ensure that your equipment is not placed against walls or in corners, which can trap heat and prevent adequate air circulation. In the case of ice machines, it’s also essential to ensure the surrounding area is cool as the performance of these machines is significantly impacted by ambient temperatures. This is especially true for outdoor units – be sure to pull them out of cabinets and away from walls a bit more during the summer months.
Buildup of dirt, grime, and other debris can put extra strain on your refrigeration units and ice machines, causing them to work harder and become less efficient. Regular cleaning of condenser coils, vents, and other critical parts can improve their performance and longevity. Using a non-acid coil cleaner and a soft brush, carefully remove any dirt without damaging the coil fins. Regular coil and area cleaning can also be covered under a regular maintenance plan with your local foodservice equipment company. In summer, dust levels can rise and negatively impact your units, especially those that are outside. Of course, never forget the internal cleaning of ice machines, as they can harbor bacteria and yeast, affecting ice quality and potentially the health of your customers.
Consider implementing energy-saving measures like keeping the door seals in good condition to prevent cold air from escaping. Other practices include minimizing the number of door openings and closing doors quickly to maintain the cold environment inside. Think of where an how products are kept before getting to your refrigeration units – keeping these products cool and dry before loading helps to keep load requirements down. Where possible, using night covers on open refrigerated displays can also save energy by letting the condensers to cycle less often through the night.
Overloading your refrigeration units can impede airflow, making the unit work harder and potentially causing food to spoil. Aim to distribute food evenly and avoid blocking vents, leaving space for air to circulate around items for efficient cooling. MORE chilled products in your refrigerator units can help keep your refrigerator running within a tighter range and more efficiently, as long as adequate spacing is maintained inside and outside of the unit.
Have an emergency plan in place for unexpected breakdowns. This could include having a back-up refrigerator or a contract with an emergency refrigeration service. We recommend calling us at DEI Foodservice Equipment & Design to see what we can provide for you. It is essential to keep an eye on the temperatures of your units so that any sudden changes that might indicate a problem can be caught and fixed quickly. We recommend remote thermometers now that be programmed to send you an alarm if anything goes outside of set ranges – some can even be set up to call, text or email you if there is a concern. Ask us about what we can provide for you.
By following these tips, restaurant owners can help ensure that their refrigeration units and ice machines continue to work efficiently, even in the heat of summer. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Regular maintenance and proper care can save a lot of headaches, not to mention costs, down the line.