Know When To Replace Your Commercial Refrigerator Or Compressor

When it comes to repairs, think of your commercial refrigerator like you would your car. Imagine the compressor in a cooler is like an engine in a vehicle. If the compressor goes bad and is replaced you get a new compressor, not a whole new cooler. The same way the garage doesn’t tell you to get a new car just because you need a bit of engine work. In other words, all the other components including coils, fans, controls, piping, and  gaskets (door seals) are still old. This is similar to an engine in a car going bad and being replaced. You end up with a new engine in an old car. There are a couple of key factors to consider when trying to decide whether or not to do a major repair on a piece of refrigeration equipment. Here are a few things to ponder before pulling the trigger on an expensive repair.

1. How old is the cooler? If older than 10 years it is advisable to price out a new one.

2. What kind of refrigerant is used in the cooler? If the answer is R12, R502, or R22, consider pricing out a new cooler. R12 and R502 have been banned by the EPA for years and R22 is currently being phased out by the EPA.

3. What is the overall condition of the cooler? Check door seals, hinges, floor in cooler, coils, and fans. If everything looks like it’s falling apart, it may be time to price out a new cooler.

We are happy to perform repairs for customers, but don’t want to see them throwing good money after bad.

Commercial Refrigerator Condensing Unit

Last week a customer in Chicago had a large walk-in freezer compressor go bad. The condensing unit that the compressor was part of was around 18 years old. The system was set up to run on R502 gas which is now obsolete, since it has been banned by the EPA. There were two options for customer: 1. Get same compressor and convert the  system to a newer style gas called R404A,  or 2. Replace the entire condensing unit including compressor, condenser coil, fans, controls, and enclosure with a new unit set up for R404 gas. The new unit is far more efficient than the old condensing unit.

Our customer ended up going with option #2 and we installed a new R404A condensing unit for their freezer. That was a good choice.

If your commercial refrigerator is set up to run on obsolete gas it’s time to replace it when any major repair comes up. The unit is most likely very energy inefficient.

5 Steps To Conserve Energy & Extend Life Of Refrigeration Equipment In Chicago

The following is a short, but extremely important, list of things end-users can do on their own to reduce power usage and extend the life of their commercial refrigeration units including coolers, freezers, and ice machines.


This list is easy to check, and  critical in maintaining proper product temperature. If, after reading this, you should have any questions please feel free to contact us!


This includes condensers on coolers, freezers, and ice machines! The condenser coil is the heat exchanger on refrigeration units. It’s the coil located on the outside of unit and expels the heat from refrigerant by passing it through a coil with the aid of a fan. It is ESSENTIAL TO KEEP THIS COIL CLEAN for proper operation of the unit. Failure to do so will result in expensive repairs including, but not limited to, compressor failure, fan motor failure, capillary tubing restrictions, burnt wiring and thermostat failure.

We recommend that the condenser coil be pressure cleaned by a service company at least every six months. In between professional maintenance users can clean the coil with a brush. The brush method does not clean within the coil though, and should not be considered a substitute for regular maintenance. On a kitchen line these coils may need to be degreased and cleaned more frequently. Self contained coolers and freezers usually have the condenser coil located at the base or on top of the unit. It can usually be accessed by removing 4 Phillips type screws at the corners of a cover. Ice machines generally have condenser coil located at rear of machine. It may have an air filter covering it, that should be washed. Routine inspection should be done frequently. A clean condenser coil is one way to GO GREEN by saving on power consumption and greatly prolonging the life of  the equipment. The following picture is a condenser coil long overdue for cleaning. We see this on a daily basis.

Refrigeration Condenser Coil


In order to maintain proper air flow around the condenser coil it is important to keep minimum clearances around units. Most factories recommend 2 to 4 inches of clearance around sides & back of self contained units. Our recommendation is the more clearance the better!  We would like to see 5 to 8 inches of clearance around sides and the  back of unit. We understand that space is limited in commercial kitchens. We also know that the more air that can freely move through the condenser section of a unit, the less power will be consumed and the longer vital components will last. Jamming coolers against one another and directly against a wall is a sure way to expend the most amount of energy and guarantee many problems. We do not recommend boxing coolers in under bars or any enclosure. Not only will this create airflow issues, but units that are built-in are extremely difficult and time-consuming to service.


Your refrigeration has worked hard to achieve proper product temperature, why let the cold seep out? Routinely inspect the door gaskets (seals) on all coolers and freezers.  Make sure all four sides of gaskets are making good solid contact with door frame. Check for tears, rips, or missing magnetic strips in gaskets. If gaskets are found to be worn out and not sealing well they should be replaced. The key to maintaining temperature and reducing run times, as well as power consumption is a good door seal. This is especially true in a hot kitchen!


To ensure that doors on refrigeration units close properly most hinges have spring cartridges that assist in closing the doors. On larger coolers and freezers, especially walk-in equipment there may be a hydraulic door closer located at the top of the door on exterior section. Most cooks, and kitchen employees, are much too busy rushing orders out to be worried about ensuring doors are properly closed. This is why automatic door closers are so vital. If automatic door closers are not working properly then there is a good chance the doors are ajar. Doors that are not closed all the way will lead to excessive run time, inefficient use  of energy, and shorten the life of the equipment. It will also cause the evaporator coils to ice up. Check your door closure operation by opening the door all the way and then gently pushing it closed. If closer is working correctly it should do the rest of the work and pull door closed. If door does not close on its own we recommend new hinges or closer hardware.


We recommend using a product sensing thermometer versus an air sensing thermometer in refrigeration units due to rapidly changing ambient conditions. Using an air sensing thermometer only tells you how cold the air is in a refrigeration unit at the moment you open it. There are times when it does not give an accurate picture of a product’s actual temperature. For actual average product temperature use  Sure Temp Glycol filled thermometer. This thermometer is encased in liquid and will provide an accurate average temperature reading of the product in a conditioned space. After leaving the Sure Temp thermometer in a conditioned space for a few hours take a look and see what the temperature reading is. On a cooler 34- 40 F degrees is good. If it’s colder you can raise the thermostat to a warmer setting and thereby save energy. A freezer storing ice cream should be around  -10 F. After establishing average temperature with Sure Temp thermometer adjustments to the thermostat can be made.

We hope this information has been useful and IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS about energy conservation, maintenance, or the Sure Temp thermometer in the Chicago area GIVE US A CALL AT: 847-409-3332.


Northeast Cooling offers Emerson’s Energy Saving Refrigeration Units

Emerson Technologies
Emerson Technologies

Northeast Cooling is pleased to announce that it will be offering some amazing new energy saving products by Emerson Climate Technologies. We will be offering both the K5 compressor and the XJ condenser and are ready to assist businesses upgrade to these Green units. Both products were showcased at the AHR Expo last month in Chicago.  These new Emerson products show great promise in the effort to Go GREEN for businesses with walk-in coolers, freezers, and other commercial refrigeration needs.

Emerson K5 Compressor
Emerson K5

Copeland Scroll® K5 Refrigeration Compressor

Emerson recently debuted its new commercial refrigeration systems that have the potential to help businesses reduce their refrigeration expenses by up to 10 percent. The unit is powered by the Copeland Scroll® K5 refrigeration compressor. The compressor is designed for those with large volume refrigeration needs in commercial situations. It is equipped with CoreSense ™ technology that allows a contractor to diagnose issues on-site and remotely. This technology reduces downtime and even unnecessary service calls saving you time and money!

Emerson XJ Outdoor Condenser
Emerson XJ Outdoor Condenser

Copeland Scroll ® Outdoor Condensing Unit, XJ Series

The Copeland Scroll ® Outdoor Condensing Unit, XJ Series, offers the highest energy efficiency available to those needing commercial refrigeration. The XJ Series features the latest  Copeland Scroll® compressor technology with a “variable speed fan motor control, large condenser coils, and a high efficiency fan blade design to deliver up to 40% higher annual energy efficiency when compared to standard industry offerings.” The XJ Series can lower utility bills and can pay for itself in less than a year. As an outdoor unit is also quieter and more attractive than current standard units, making for happy customers and neighbors. This unit also has CoreSense ™ Diagnostics that enable service technicians to locate and troubleshoot issues, again savings for you: the business owner.


Click here to try Emerson’s handy calculator to see how they can help save energy and dollars!


Give us a call today and let us find the best suited product to help you Go Green and save money.

DIY Commercial Refrigeration Maintenance Inspection

DIY Commercial Refrigeration Maintenance Inspection

We’re here to help you with all things commercial refrigeration. We’d like to help you keep your machines running smoothly between maintenance calls. So, with some information and timely tips our aim is to assist business owners in better understanding when it’s time to make that call to schedule a maintenance appointment for their commercial coolers and freezers in Chicago. We’re also sharing some handy pointers on preventive maintenance that the end user can perform on their own.

First TIP, and essential, to a well running cooler or freezer:

Routine maintenance should be performed at least twice per year.

A thorough plan performed by a service company should include the following:

  • Pressure Cleaning Condenser Coils (degrease if necessary)
  • Pressure Clean Drain Lines
  • Monitor Temperature & Cycling
  • Check Refrigerant Level
  • Check Condenser and Evaporator Fan Motors & Blades
  • Check Electrical Connections: Wiring & Compressor
  • Check Unit Thermometer: Door Gaskets & Insulation
  • Check Door Hinges & Closers
  • Ice Machines should be taken apart & cleaned.
  • An acid descale solution should then be run through the water circuit.

This is what a dirty ice machine can look like:

Dirty Ice Machine
Ice Machine covered in slime & mold.

If you own commercial refrigeration YOU should be aware of when the last maintenance service was performed.

If  you had maintenance service preformed over six months ago then you might be surprised to learn that it’s now OVERDUE. In between service calls you can help keep your machines running as efficiently as possible by cleaning out the dust and dirt. Most self contained coolers and freezers have a cover at the top or bottom. This cover can be removed by taking out two screws on each side. Refrigeration owners can remove this cover to inspect the condition of the condenser coil once a month.

This condenser so dirty it can cause compressor to fail:

Dirty Condenser Coil On A Commercial Cooler
Dirty Condenser Coil

Here is the same condenser with half,  and then all, of the dirt removed with a brush. BIG difference, right? This is something the end user can do in between full maintenance programs. Although, this does not remove all the dirt it will help you keep your unit running more efficiently between service calls. A service company will still need to come and blow out the coils with a pressure clean a few times a year.

Dirty Condenser Coil On A Commercial Cooler  Dust Blanket Removed From Condenser Coil On A Commercial Cooler










If the refrigeration unit is a remote rack type like one pictured below, remove a side cover and look up from bottom to inspect condition of condenser coil.

Remote Refrigeration Rack Unit

 Here are the main things a customer can do between maintenance visits:

  • Check air-cooled condenser coils on coolers, freezers, and ice machines. These are the fan coils on the exterior of the unit. Brush off the dirt without damaging the aluminum fins.
  • Check ice machines. Remove cover and inspect interior for signs of mold or slime build-up. If any build-up is found call a service company.
  • Check door gaskets on coolers and freezers. Inspect for rips or tears.
  • Check automatic door closers and hinges on equipment.

Keep in mind the following:

Equipment may still maintain temperature EVEN when in need of maintenance. It will also use significantly more electricity and be prone to major component failure.

In the case of refrigeration equipment an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a  pound of cure!

Summer Sizzle Elicits One Word: Maintenance!


After this past week’s heat brief, but brutal, heat wave we just cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining your commercial refrigeration equipment. While we love the business, we hate to see you in a bind!

Even one of our friends learned the hard way at home in Lake County. “Who needs to check the air conditioning?”  Our friend has since changed her tune when the a/c unit refused to turn on as the temperature inside the house was soaring to 89 degrees!  The guilty will remain nameless to shelter her from further shame at the lack of preventative maintenance.

She survived, but you don’t want the same thing to happen to your commerical refrigeration equipment!

You NEED your ice machine!

You NEED cooling for your food and beverage service.

Be sure to check out our previous maintenance checklist post!


Be sure to check out our SPECIALS all around the web!  Save $ Facebook. Track us on Google Latitude located on our home page and save on service if we’re in your area. Complete 3 Pegs on and earn cash or a gas card!

We’re here to service your needs in and around Lake County and Cook County! Check out our website and give us a call!