Author Archives: Tim Sands

Choosing The Right Commercial Refrigeration Mechanic

Even the most advanced commercial refrigeration equipment encounters problems after years of use. With proper care, parts may still require replacement or upgrades. In addition, maintenance needs to be performed to ensure a commercial refrigerator cools as it should, maintains its efficiency, and doesn’t have premature failure of expensive parts. If a unit isn’t working the way it was intended, it’s time to call in a refrigeration mechanic. Since commercial refrigeration units can require extensive and complicated repairs, it is important to choose a mechanic that is ready to tackle any problem. Before picking up the phone, utilize these tips to find the best person for the job.

Anyone who works on a commercial refrigerator should be licensed and hold the proper certifications for the job. Certification ensures that the mechanic has had the proper training needed to perform the most difficult repairs. A license is required for commercial work within the state. Working with an unlicensed refrigerator mechanic may result in further damage and expenses, including full replacement costs. The mechanic should also have insurance (and have proof readily available) to protect himself, as well as your property, while working in case of an accident.

It’s also important to hire someone who has experience working specifically with commercial refrigeration equipment. It is perfectly acceptable to ask for references that you can call or e-mail to learn more about the mechanic’s experience. Testimonials, whether written through letters or posted online, should also be made available in order to prove competence. While working with someone new isn’t always a bad thing, it’s a good idea to choose someone who has repaired and maintained a variety of units. An experienced mechanic will have worked with units of different sizes, from various manufacturers. In addition, units often have different problems and a mechanic should be confident whether it’s replacing a compressor or simply performing routine maintenance.

Another way to gauge a mechanic’s level of experience is researching how long the individual or company has been in business. If a mechanic has been providing service for many years, it is one indicator of a successful business. The longer a mechanic has been working professionally, the more references and testimonials he will have from satisfied customers.

When it comes to expensive commercial refrigerators, hiring a mechanic based solely on rates, availability, or other unimportant criteria can be a gamble that can cost much more in the long run. By doing research and hiring a reputable commercial refrigerator mechanic, equipment can be restored to like-new condition without the worry of expensive replacements or further problems that can cost a fortune to remedy.

Food waste is never good. It means loss of inventory as well as loss of money.

Here are a few things you can do to help keep the food and ingredients in your walk-in fresh and reduce waste for your business.

DON’T OVER STUFF YOUR WALK-IN REFRIGERATOR.

Make sure there is sufficient air circulation in your walk-in cooler. Cold air circulation prevents mold and other bacteria from having a chance to grow and flourish. There should be three inches of space between each container so all sides have access to fresh and flowing air. In addition to lack of circulation, over stuffing your unit leads to high utility bills since your walk-in usually has to work harder to cool more items.

BE STRATEGIC ABOUT ORGANIZATION.

More temperature sensitive foods such as raw meat and fish should be placed in the coldest areas of your unit. Generally, lower bottom shelves at back of your walk-in cooler tend to be coolest. Keep more stable items in warmer areas such as near the door (where warm air can infiltrate the cooler) and on top shelves (since heat rises).

MAKE SURE THE TEMPERATURE IS SET PROPERLY.

Depending on the inventory in your walk in cooler, items require different temperatures to stay fresh. Find out the best storage temperatures for your specific inventory and ensure that the unit is set to the correct temperature range.

LEAVE EXTRA ROOM ON THE FLOOR AND DIRECTLY BELOW THE CEILING FOR AIR MOVEMENT.

Bottom shelves should be six inches off the floor to allow for proper circulation as well
as easy cleaning. In addition, avoid stacking items all the way to the ceiling or it will
block air movement.

FOLLOW FIFO GUIDELINES AND LABEL FOOD WITH DATES.

FIFO means first in, first out. Whatever item has been in the unit the longest should be removed first. In addition, labeling is essential to an organized cooler and greatly assists in reducing food waste. Labels should include the contents of items as well as the date they entered the freezer and/or a produced on date.

Hopefully these tips will help you and your business reduce food waste and profit loss. Regular maintenance on your walk-in also ensures that it is working properly and storing your inventory to the best of its ability. Please contact us with any questions about food storage in your walk-in cooler

Commercial Refrigeration Safety Guidelines

When you have a commercial refrigeration unit installed, you typically focus on things like the interior capacity, overall size to ensure it fits in your store, restaurant, or supermarket, as well as the efficiency of the unit and how much it costs to operate. However, one thing that you really need to consider is how to keep your unit safely operating.

There are a few safety guidelines that should be followed when you have any type of commercial refrigerator installed in your business. Not only does following these guidelines increase the longevity and optimize performance, but it also keeps your business safe from potential damage that could be caused by a faulty installation or poor maintenance.

Refrigerant within the system is required in order to be able to reach lower temperatures needed to preserve food and prevent it from spoiling. If your refrigerant is low, this indicates that there is a leak somewhere within your system. Instead of simply refilling the system, the leak must be detected and repaired. Failure to do so results in the refrigerant being released into the atmosphere, which is a violation of the Clean Air Act’s regulations and can result in heavy fines.

Another important guideline to note is that you should always make sure that fans are unobstructed. Since these fans work to push out hot air to keep the interior of a cooler cold, blocking them can not only run up your utility bill, but it can be dangerous for the components in your unit. Your unit should never be pulled out from the wall a bit, particularly where there are fans or vents to prevent overheating. Read more in our previous post on maintaining proper commercial refrigerator temperatures.

The thermometer and all parts should be kept in working order to maintain the proper temperatures. Temperatures that are too low can result in food that is frozen and spoiled, while higher temperatures can help bacteria breed and spoil everything contained within your unit.

If a leak is detected in your drain line or around any other part in your unit, you should have it immediately inspected and repaired, as this can result in standing water that can lead to slips and falls by your employees or customers.

Regular maintenance is a must to ensure complete safety of your product. Faulty wiring can result in failure at best, or at worst, a fire that can damage your property. All electrical components should be checked at least semi-annually or quarterly. Other important components including the condenser coils, evaporator coils, and drain lines. If any of these components fail, your refrigerator will not maintain its temperature, your energy bills may rise significantly, and you put your whole unit at risk for damage.

Several times a year, a licensed commercial refrigeration professional should fully inspect your unit and should make repairs as needed. While you can certainly take a look at certain components yourself, the more extensive maintenance and repairs should out be performed by a licensed and experienced professional.

The History of Commercial Refrigeration

Whether you own a convenience store or manage a grocery store or the kitchen of a restaurant, you probably rely a lot on refrigeration units. Whether you’re storing cold drinks for your customers on the go or you’re keeping your meats, cheeses, and other vegetables cold before you cook a delicious meal, you need a commercial refrigerator. Modern refrigeration systems for commercial use have come a long way since their early beginnings.

Hundreds of years ago, the first buildings made for storing snow and ice were built. Straw and sawdust were used to insulate these buildings. Later in the 1700s, William Cullen made a breakthrough with a very impractical cooling box. At this time, there was no use for such a box. Benjamin Franklin and John Hadley later experimented with ways to cool using volatile liquids. While this wasn’t the direct invention of commercial refrigeration equipment, these breakthroughs did help lead to later development.

In the mid-1800s, Ferdinand Carre developed the ice machine Three of these machines were brought to New Orleans when the city could no longer get ice from New England. Throughout the 1800s, more people continued to advance upon these discoveries. In the 1840s, refrigerated boxcars were used to transport dairy products. In the late 1800s, ships were equipped with units that allowed food to be transported longer distances.

In the 1900s, commercial refrigerators became very important for many industries, particularly the meat-packing industry. Big companies like Armour and Wilson purchased units to be used on box cars and in storage facilities to keep meat cold and fresh. These early units were very large, many weighing between five and two hundred tons, and they relied on toxic gases for cooling power, making them quite a hazard.

Throughout the 20th century, advances were made to make commercial refrigeration systems more lightweight, less expensive, and more readily available for a variety of businesses, including supermarkets and restaurants. Improvements were also made in safety, and volatile gases or very harmful chemicals were no longer used for cooling. Not only are today’s systems smaller, more lightweight, and affordable, but they even come equipped with modern features like digital thermostats, clear glass display doors, unique designs, and LED lights.

The history of commercial refrigeration goes back for centuries, and the advances and innovations made to these systems have made them a staple in many industries. The years of research, development, innovation, and improvements have led to the modern systems found in convenience stores, restaurants, hotel gift shops, grocery stores, and many of the establishments that we frequent daily.

Energy Optimization

In Commercial Refrigeration and HVAC

It has been stated that 30% of the energy used to heat or cool a building or a commercial refrigeration unit is wasted.  This is caused byenergy optimization old commercial refrigeration equipment, inefficient HVAC equipment, leaks in the system, over-sized compressors, out of date refrigerants, and commercial refrigeration units that were not designed correctly from the start.  All of these issues can have drastic impact on a company’s bottom line due to the ever increasing cost of energy.

How Does Energy Optimization Work?

There are many ways to improve the efficiency of a commercial refrigeration or HVAC system.  Some of them are expensive and some of them are not.  The first step in improving the efficiency of your system and thereby reducing your energy costs would be an Energy Optimization Audit.

A technician certified in energy optimization can provide you with an audit that will clearly specify how to improve your heating and cooling efficiency.  Ways to improve your energy optimization could include the following:

  • Refrigerant Retrofits
  • Eliminating Leaks In Your HVAC, Ventilation & Commercial Refrigeration Systems
  • Installing Energy Efficient Lighting In Your Commercial Refrigeration Equipment
  • Installing Modern Control Units
  • Installing Variable Speed Motors On Heating and Cooling Equipment
  • Upgrading To More Efficient Compressors For Your Commercial Refrigeration & HVAC Equipment
  • Scheduling Regular Maintenance On Existing Refrigeration & HVAC Equipment

The recommendations from your Energy Optimization Audit can be simple and inexpensive ways to lower your energy costs or they could be more expensive.  Simple, inexpensive ways to improve the efficiency of your commercial refrigeration or HVAC system could include regularly scheduled maintenance and eliminating leaks.  More expensive recommendations to improve your energy efficiency could include replacing the compressors in your refrigeration equipment or HVAC system or possibly complete system upgrades.

The Results Of An Energy Optimization Audit

The bottom line is that energy savings means better business.  If you’re wasting energy, and therefore money, needlessly it will continue to be a drag on your company’s profitability.  An efficient business is a successful business.  An Energy Optimization Audit will give you the tools, resources, and possibly even rebates necessary to improve the energy efficiency of your business.

Finding a qualified technician to provide you an Energy Optimization Audit on your commercial refrigeration and HVAC system could be as easy as calling your energy supplier or contacting the company that provides your maintenance and service.