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.


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!


Manitowoc Foodservice Earns Energy Star Partner Of The Year 2010

Manitowoc Ice Machines

Our Vendor, Manitowoc Foodservice, Earns Energy Star Partner Of The Year!

As a Chicago commercial refrigeration and ice machine service, repair, and sales company…finding the very best vendors is a must.  We pride ourselves on being able to offer restaurants around the Chicago area with the absolute best commercial refrigeration parts and equipment available.

In addition to the highest quality parts and equipment, restaurant energy savings and green refrigeration are also an area of our expertise.  So when we heard that our Vendor, Manitowoc Foodservices, was awarded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2010 Energy Star Partner of the Year Award, we were ecstatic for them.

Why We’re Proud To Sell And Repair Manitowoc Ice Machines:

Manitowoc Ice Machines are among the highest quality ice production units on the market today.  They not only deliver excellent ice production, but they save our clients some hard earned money with energy savings and help the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Commercial ice machines that have earned the ENERGY STAR are approximately 15% more energy-efficient and 10% more water-efficient than their conventional ice machines.  And because refrigeration and ice machines are such a large piece of the overall energy cost for restaurants, this reduction means real monetary savings.

According to the EPA, the 2010 Partner of the Year Awards are given to manufacturers and retailers that successfully promote and deliver ENERGY STAR qualified products, saving consumers money and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The awarded winners were selected from more than 17,000 organizations that currently participate in the ENERGY STAR program.

If you have any questions about Manitowoc Ice Machines or anything about green refrigeration, please let me know.  Please contact us via our website or by phone (847.409.3332).  Congrats again to Manitowoc Food Service for their award, we’re proud to be selling their top quality equipment and using their parts.

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.


How to Properly Maintain Your Commercial Ice Machine

The quality of your water supply will determine how many ice machine cleanings you will need per year. Ice machine maintenance in Chicago should be done at least twice a year.  Units supplied by well water require more frequent cleanings.

Ice machines can be the most complex and expensive piece of refrigeration equipment in the kitchen.  Northeast Cooling can help you create a maintenance plan for your ice machine.  Keeping an ice machine clean will help keep the original warranty valid. Failure to keep a unit on a maintenance plan can lead repairs that would not be covered under warranty.

The inside of the machine is the perfect breeding ground for mold and growth of build up and scale, caused by dark and wet conditions.  Businesses that bake bread or sell any product containing yeast should check the condition of the machine at least every six weeks. The yeast builds up a scum that covers the water supply in the machine.

Manitowoc and Hoshizaki machines have many parts that are sensitive to scale build up. This holds true for all commercial ice machines. When the machine becomes too scaled up with lime deposits it will fail to work correctly. Water level sensors and ice probes will start to fail.  Ice will have trouble dropping off the evaporator grid due to binding with the scale. Water pumps will go bad, and water distributors will plug up.

Dumping chemicals in a machine and switching it to clean mode is not good enough. All removable parts should be taken out and scrubbed in a sink. The parts should be reinstalled and then an acid scale dissolve chemical should be run through the unit. If the condenser is air cooled it needs to be pressure cleaned. The bin drain should be pressure cleaned. After the cleaning is completed it is often necessary to adjust the ice thickness sensor and discard the first couple of batches produced.

It is a good idea to have a professional perform these services.

Northeast Cooling  is Accredited by the Better Business Bureau and specializes in ice machine service and repair. We are authorized to perform warranty work for Manitowoc, Hoshizaki, Scotsman, and all other major brands and we look forward to servicing your machines!