What is Walk-in Cooler Maintenance?
Usually, a walk-in cooler is used by commercial establishments (like supermarkets, convenience stores, warehouses, and restaurants) to store large amounts of temperature-sensitive goods such as meat products like poultry, beef, pork, and fish, as well as other frozen goods. As the name implies, walk-in freezers and coolers are large enough that humans can freely move inside. Inside it, there is usually an array of racks on which the perishable goods are stacked.
Although larger than regular home refrigerators, walk-in coolers still operate on the same heat exchange process called refrigeration. Refrigeration is the process of continuously transferring heat from a low-energy source to a high-energy source by introducing compression work. The components of a walk-in cooler and home refrigerator are also similar: both have coils, a compressor, refrigerant, and fans. These mechanical components are the focus of the walk-in cooler maintenance checklist.
Requirements regarding walk-in coolers and freezers may vary depending on the regulations set forth by national or local governments. So the following guide includes an amalgamation of walk-in cooler maintenance checklists from various manufacturers and a sample walk-in freezer safety checklist from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
In this article you will learn:
What Components are Checked during a Walk-in Cooler Maintenance?
Walk-in cooler maintenances are focused on inspecting the mechanical components of a walk-in cooler and freezer. Aside from a visual inspection, this also includes subjecting these mechanical components to various tests to know if they are in good working condition. Below are the main components and a brief summary of its inspection and test procedures.
Condenser and Evaporator Coils
The condenser and evaporator coils are the components at which the heat exchange process happens between the refrigerant and the ambient air. These coils are made from corrosion-resistant metal pipes that are melded inside an array of cooling fins.
Ambient air is forced to flow into the outside fins where its heat is removed by the refrigerant flowing inside the coils. If these fins happen to be blocked by an accumulation of dirt and debris, then the cooling efficiency of the cooler or freezer is greatly decreased.
This is why manufacturers suggest a regular cleaning of the cooling coils of walk-in coolers and freezers. Aside from regular cleaning, it is also necessary to check for any signs of damages such as bent fins, corroded pipes, and frozen coils.
Compressor and Fan
A compressor is a mechanical component that drives the refrigerant into the coils. And as its name implies, it generates flow by continuously putting the refrigerant into a high-pressure state through compression. When the desired pressure is not reached by the compressor, it greatly lowers the efficiency of the refrigeration cycle.
That is why the generated pressure should be tested by the compressor. This may be easy to do depending on the design but usually, compressors have testing ports for this purpose that are called “service ports”. Aside from refrigerant pressure, other compressor parameters that need to be tested are oil level, voltage, current, temperature, and grounding.
Condenser fans are what drive the air towards the condenser coils to absorb the heat from the refrigerant. A dirty fan reduces the airflow rate which in turn reduces cooling efficiency. And that is why it is recommended to conduct a regular cleaning schedule of the condenser fans as well as test the fan parameters like voltage, current, and fan speed to ensure that it is operating at an optimal condition.
Interior and Exterior Conditions
The interior and exterior conditions mostly refer to the visual condition of the walk-in coolers and freezers. You shoulf regularly inspect the interior and exterior for any physical signs of damage. This procedure includes checking the seals and gaskets of the door and wall panels. This is important since these damages can affect the insulating capacity of the cooler.
Also, it is recommended to ensure that the interior is clean and that the drain is not clogged to prevent any water buildup in the cooler. This is to prevent the accumulation of unwanted bacteria and molds.
Temperature sensors are a crucial part of the cooling efficiency and effectiveness of walk-in coolers and freezers. You should calibrate all temperature sensors because they dictate how the refrigeration system will behave.
If the sensor reading is lower than the real temperature, then the refrigeration system will ramp down its cooling despite not meeting the set temperature. This can lead to the spoiling of the products inside the freezer. And if the sensor reads higher, then the refrigeration system will still ramp up despite already meeting the set temperature which leads to inefficient power consumption.
What Hazards are Addressed in the Walk-in Freezer Safety Requirements?
Aside from the inspection and maintenance of the mechanical components, a walk-in cooler maintenance checklist should also include safety requirements that need to be followed by commercial establishments. The sample walk-in freezer safety requirements from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) give you an idea of what you should pay attention to:
One of the major hazards in walk-in cooler safety is being exposed to the extreme cold by being locked inside the cooling chamber where victims can suffer from physical injuries like hypothermia and frostbite. In worst cases, being locked inside a walk-in freezer can even lead to death.
To prevent this hazard from happening there are various methods that are recommended. You could provide an illuminated emergency exit installed with heaters or set up emergency alarm buttons inside the freezer.
Accidental Release of Class 2 Refrigerants
Another major hazard of walk-in freezers is freezers and coolers that utilize Class 2 refrigerants. Class 2 refrigerants are those that exhibit hazardous properties like flammability and toxicity.
One example of this is ammonia. When accidentally released, ammonia can cause severe respiratory issues to workers who have inhaled it. To prevent this from happening it is important to put up proper hazard signages, vapor detectors, and emergency exhaust systems.
Another hazard of working inside a walk-in freezer includes accidents due to slipping. Since walk-in freezers are very cold in nature, any liquid due to spillage might become a slipping hazard and severe injuries such as fractures may follow. You should practice good housekeeping to keep the floors dry and require workers to wear shoes that have good grip.
Keep Refrigeration Maintenance Cool With a Digital Checklist
A walk-in cooler maintenance checklist is a document that contains all the required maintenance procedures for a walk-in cooler or walk-in freezer to ensure that it is operating efficiently. It also contains a list of safety considerations for the operation of walk-in coolers and freezers. By digitizing such a checklist with Lumiform you can perform safety and quality controls and audits much more time efficiently and effectively to keep your systems running and your workers safe.
Perform audits on the go from your smartphone or tablet – be it online or offline and easily create checklists of any kind to collect data in the field or to reduce machine failures and threats to employees.
- With more than 10,000 ready-made templates to choose from, Lumiform allows you to go digital quickly and safely.
- If you prefer to create your own checklists, why not try Lumiform’s flexible form builder? It helps you convert any paper-based inspection sheets into a digital format within minutes.
- With the intuitive and easy-to-use mobile app you and your team can perform any kind of inspection with ease and save time. Wherever you are: always be up-to-date about the status of your refrigeration systems and keep track of any walk-in freezer safety requirements: uncover damaged equipment and address safety hazards wherever you are.
- All results are automatically summarised in a report that can be sent to responsible personnel on-the-fly.
- Comprehensive and automated analyses help you uncover damages faster than ever before so you can act and concentrate on improving your equipment continuously.
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