Commercial Refrigeration “Service” vs. “Maintenance” – There’s a Difference

Refrigeration Service At O'Hare
O’Hare Terminal 5

In our experience we find that most after hours emergency commercial refrigeration service calls are due to lack of proper maintenance. Failure to properly maintain coolers and freezers will lead to various unpleasant outcomes. Poorly maintained equipment uses more power to maintain temperatures. It’s also prone to premature failure of critical components. These failures usually occur at the worst possible times like nights and weekends. Repairs cost significantly more after hours or on weekends compared to during regular business hours.

A Solid Maintenance Plan Can Prevent Commercial Refrigeration Repairs

The following scenario is a case in point. We received a request for emergency commercial refrigeration service at a customer lounge in O’Hare Airport on Saturday 10/26/13. The client requested repairs on a two door cooler in their kitchen. We let the client know that services come at a premium on weekends and explained our labor rates. We offered to schedule repairs for first thing Monday, but the customer could not wait.

Upon arrival we found that the cooler condenser and evaporator coils were both plugged with debris. One of two evaporator fan motors had failed possibly due to restricted airflow caused by the dirty coil. This caused one half of the evaporator coil to freeze up. The compressor was extremely overheated due to the dirty condenser coil. We defrosted the frozen coil, replaced the bad evaporator motor & pressure cleaned the evaporator & condenser coils. After repairs and cleaning the refrigerant pressures were checked and a system restriction was found. System oil had been fouled due to overheating caused by the dirty condenser. This caused the capillary tube metering device to partially restrict causing a low back pressure. A quote for new capillary tubing will need to be prepared.

All of the problems found with this cooler stem from lack of maintenance. All of this could have probably been avoided with a proper maintenance plan in place.

The following are the main takeaways from this service call.

Consequences of lack of routine maintenance include:

  • All problems with this cooler were caused by lack of maintenance on commercial refrigeration equipment
  • The overtime service call cost the client about $250 more than regular rate service
  • Overheated and damaged oil has caused the capillary tube metering device to become partially restricted and new capillary tubing will need to be quoted
  • The dirty condenser coil caused compressor to run hot and has decreased life of the compressor

Avoid Unplanned Commercial Refrigeration Service – Be Proactive

We strive to make clients aware of the importance of a routine maintenance plan. This is a tough sell for some reason. Most clients operate on a reactive basis instead of a proactive basis. If proper maintenance plans were in place the majority of commercial refrigeration equipment failures could be avoided. Check out some of our DIY tips for commercial refrigeration maintenance.

Some benefits of a routine maintenance plan

  • Prolong life of commercial refrigeration equipment
  • Reduce electrical consumption
  • Reduce the need for emergency commercial refrigeration service
  • Prevent costly commercial refrigeration repairs