Refrigeration Maintenance Pays: A Client Lesson

It never pays to be penny-wise & dollar-foolish when it comes to maintenance of commercial refrigeration. Hopefully you can learn from this customer’s expensive lesson!

We received a call on a Saturday in August for emergency service. As Murphy’s Law would have it, their 2-door cooler broke down on the weekend, when repairs come at a premium.

Let’s backtrack for a minute. We quoted this customer a full comprehensive maintenance plan back in November of 2011. This maintenance, if performed, likely would have prevented the cooler in question from breaking down. The maintenance would definitely save the customer on energy usage & extend the life of the equipment. Unfortunately, as is all too often the case, the customer did not schedule or approve our refrigeration maintenance proposal. Have a look at our quote below for the maintenance work:

Fast forward to the emergency service call. Their 2 door cooler was running at 70 degrees, which we diagnosed as a bad condenser fan motor. Most likely, the fan motor overheated due to the condenser coil being plugged with grease. The compressor was extremely overheated & tripping off on overload. We had to cool the compressor with ice, degrease the coil several times & replace the condenser fan motor. All this was done at our Saturday rate, which is 1.5 times our regular rates. Now take a look at the invoice for emergency Saturday service:

(Note: Our current regular business hour rates are as follows $65 service charge $115.50 per hour plus parts)


Here is how it breaks down:

  1. The emergency service on the one cooler was almost $200 more than the entire maintenance proposal for 12 Refrigeration Units.
  2. The other 11 Refrigeration Units are still overdue for maintenance.
  3. The compressor on cooler serviced has been severely strained & may fail soon.

This scenario is something we see all the time: We try to preach the benefits of  routine maintenance, but it is all too often ignored. For the handful of clients who routinely maintain their refrigeration equipment, the units are operating much more efficiently and have far fewer breakdowns than units that are not serviced regularly. We recommend a thorough maintenance inspection be done a minimum of twice per year.

Here are a couple other maintenance-related posts that are useful:

DIY Commercial Refrigeration Maintenance Inspection

5 Steps To Conserve Energy & Extend Life Of Refrigeration Equipment

Problems Caused By Lack Of Commercial Refrigeration Maintenance

Please contact us with any questions regarding commercial refrigeration.

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!

Ice Cream Decadence in Chicago August 18/19

Join Northeast Cooling at the Chicago Ice Cream and Gelato Festival as we indulge in two days of pure ice cream bliss.


Head on over to Grand Piazza at 1431 West Taylor Street in the heart of Little Italy on August 18th and 19th from 6-9 pm to experience the wonders of ice cream at The 3rd Annual Chicago Ice Cream & Gelato Festival.

This isn’t just an ice cream cart on a hot summer’s day. It’s ice cream as an art form, lovingly crafted into gourmet decadence. Come out and see for yourself!

There will be ice cream Chef Battles, Ice Cream Making demos, along with an Artisan Marketplace. Rest assured there will be plenty of mouth-watering ice cream to keep you cool! There will even be a book signing by author and ice officiando, Jeni Britton Bauer.

Also on hand will be a Grill Section featuring great food, Finch Beer Co.  and Koval Distillery products, and good wine!

Ice Cream provided by:

  • Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams of Ohio
  • Zingerman’s Creamery of Michigan
  • Mitchell’s Soda Shop
  • Shawn Michelle’s Canady le Chocolatier
  • Hudsonville Polyscience (The Anti-griddle)
  • Graeter’s of Ohio
  • Homer’s Ice Cream

Fabulous ingredients provided by:

  • Tate’s Bake Shop
  • Crave Brothers Cheese
  • St. Germain Liqueur
  • Barry-Callebaut Chocolate
  • Finch Beer
  • Koval Distillery
  • The Marion Street Cheese Market
  • Goose Island

Our Chefs:

  • Jeni Birtton Bauer of Jeni’s Spendid Ice Creams of Ohio
  • Toni Roberts of The WIT Hotel
  • Fabrice Boutet of The Palmer House Hilton
  • Jove Hubbard of The James Hotel
  • Ben Roche of MOTO
  • Malika Ameen of Top Chef: Just Desserts
Northeast Cooling will be on hand at the event to perform a free diagnostic evaluation on any commercial refrigeration issues should they occur.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for kids.

Don’t miss your chance to win TICKETS to this amazing event courtesy of Northeast Cooling!

Three ways to win:

1. Like our Facebook page. We will randomly award a ticket to two (2) NEW LIKERS.

2. Mention @refrigeration AND @ChicagoIceCream AND include the Eventbrite link in a TWEET.

3. Leave a comment here on the website that includes your favorite flavor and favorite ice cream establishment.


All winners announced Monday, August 15th.  Winners chosen at RANDOM.



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!

Chicago Blizzard And Snow Storm Twitter HashTags

The Chicago blizzard is officially upon us.  As the snow piles up, the Chicago social media community has responded with an avalanche of commentary, photos, and posts.

The following tweets contain all the hashtags I’ve heard of so far for the Chicago Blizzard. Can you help add to the list? Reply to  @refrigeration or leave a comment. Thanks. Be safe if the blizzard actually hits us!

For other tips on how your restaurant can save energy and money, be sure to      follow Refrigeration on Twitter, and Fan Northeast Cooling on Facebook.