Posted on October 8, 2023
How to Do Your Restaurant Refrigeration Repairs
Commercial refrigerators are both a restaurant’s best friend and worst nightmare. Without them, you’d be serving lukewarm drinks, wilted salads, and melted ice cream. They can cost your business thousands in lost sales and wasted inventory when they break down. But a little preventative maintenance can help keep your refrigeration running smoothly.
Refrigerators can be difficult to diagnose, and many repairs require a professional. Depending on the type of refrigerator and the issue, it may make sense to hire a restaurant refrigeration technician for an on-site diagnosis and repair. However, some common restaurant refrigerator problems can be handled by a do-it-yourselfer, including replacing door gaskets, hinges, and shelves. All Temp Air Conditioning & Refrigeration can address other issues, like faulty thermostats and the through-the-door icemakers found on many refrigerator models.
Faulty thermostats are a frequent cause of excessive freezing in commercial refrigerators. The thermostat controls the compressor and evaporator coils to maintain optimum temperatures. The thermostat must be set correctly and the temperature range properly calibrated in order to work properly.
Another problem that can result in food spoilage is a leaking water supply inlet valve on some refrigerators. The inlet valve is located on the back wall of the fridge, next to the icemaker. To check the valve, follow the tubing from the inlet valve to its housing in the refrigerator’s water supply inlet. If the valve is leaking, it must be replaced.
If the fridge is leaking, it may be because the drain pan at the bottom of the fridge has become full of condensation drips. The drain pan should be cleaned with warm, soapy water and a clean cloth to prevent odors. If the refrigerator is tilting somewhat and leaking water onto the floor, it must be leveled. Use an air-bubble level to see if the fridge is even from side to side and front to back.
Many reach-in and walk-in refrigerators have components that require a professional service person to replace, such as the compressor and evaporator coils. Some other parts, such as switches and the compressor relay can be tested and replaced by a do-it-yourselfer. To test a switch or relay, remove the metal cover plate or cardboard access panel on the back of the refrigerator. Then, move the push-on connectors on the circuit board one at a time to verify they are securely connected.
Glycol coolers are a little less common in commercial kitchens, but they’re a vital piece of equipment that can be expensive to repair. Before you call in a professional, try pulling dust and fur balls from beneath the coils and vacuuming the fan with a long brush. This will help keep the refrigerator’s refrigerant flowing freely, which can prevent a frozen compressor or a stuck circuit board relay.
A freezer is one of the hardest-working appliances in your kitchen. It is constantly running, day and night, keeping your foods frozen. But if your freezer isn’t functioning properly, you could lose tons of food and face expensive repair costs. Fortunately, many common freezer problems are fairly easy to diagnose and fix yourself.
One of the most frequent problems with freezers is a failure to produce cold air. This can be caused by dirty filters or clogged coils, as well as a broken defrost heater, freezer thermostat, or defrost timer. Cleaning or replacing these parts can often restore cooling.
If your freezer isn’t producing enough ice, first check the freezer’s drain tube. It should be located near the bottom of the freezer compartment and shaped like a shoehorn. If this tube is clogged, it may not be able to properly funnel water out of the freezer. Try inserting a turkey baster full of bleach water or another length of tubing through the tube to clean it.
In some cases, a freezer will make a clicking or humming sound and shut itself off. This is a sign that the compressor’s relay has failed. Depending on the freezer’s model, you might need to remove the back panel of the fridge or pry off plastic screw covers with a putty knife to access the screws and replace the relay.
Freezers also sometimes have trouble with their door seals, which can dry out and crack over time. This can allow warm air to leak into the freezer, preventing it from freezing properly and causing frost to build up inside. Fortunately, replacement freezer door seals are usually inexpensive and simple to install.
Finally, if your freezer is louder than usual, you should look for objects or debris that may be blocking the air vents on the back of the freezer. These must be completely clear to ensure that cold air is circulating properly. In addition, a noisy freezer can signal that its evaporator fan motor is failing. Replacing this part can be difficult, so you’ll probably want to call in a professional.
Dishwashers are constructed by line workers at stations along an assembly line. The frame and motor or motors are assembled first, then the tub is fitted into the frame and fastened to it. The door is fitted, and electrical connections are made. Insulation is also added to reduce noise and the effects of heat that might warp counter tops or cabinets.
Most dishwasher problems are caused by a poorly sealing door or water leaks around hoses and parts. Look for a pool of water under the machine and examine the door gasket strip for wear or a tear, which can be replaced with a new strip in the same orientation as the old one.
If the pump fails to turn on or shut off during a cycle, check the water inlet valve to see that it’s not blocked by mineral buildup or clogged with a broken screen. Also check the float and switch for operation. If the problem is with the timer, a faulty timer motor might cause a failure to fill or run the cycle correctly.
In a malfunctioning dishwasher, the most common symptom is the inability to run a complete cycle. If the dishwasher is still unable to fill, inspect and clean the spray arm and remove blockages from the drain valve solenoid. If the timer is operating, check the float and switch, and test the drain valve solenoid with a VOM set to RX1 (resistance times 1) and one probe connected to each terminal. The meter should read zero or continuity when the switch is in place and open circuit when it’s off.
Unplug the dishwasher or shut off power at the electrical service panel before working on it. If you don’t feel comfortable making these electrical repairs, call a professional repair person.
Ovens are a staple in many restaurants, and it can be very frustrating when one breaks down. They are expensive to replace, and if it’s an older model it may not be worth the effort of fixing it at all. Thankfully, there are a few things that can be done to make the appliance work again.
The first thing that needs to be checked is if the unit is plugged in and getting power. The circuit breaker or fuse might need to be reset, and the gas supply needs to be verified by turning on the main gas valve. Then, a professional can inspect the unit to find the cause of the issue and make repairs accordingly.
An oven that won’t turn on or heat up may be due to a broken thermostat or heating element. It could also be that the temperature sensor has stopped working, which can cause the oven to overheat. To fix this, a professional can remove the control panel and check for discolored terminals on the switch. If the terminals are burned, they will need to be replaced. It is important that the replacement is an exact match, so consult the manufacturer’s manual for guidance.
A clogged fan in the unit can slow down the flow of warm air and increase the time it takes for the oven to reach the correct temperature. Depending on the model of the appliance, the fan can be accessed by removing some panels and unscrewing the old one. A professional can then fit the new fan in place.
A common issue with ovens is that they don’t self-clean when a cleaning cycle is scheduled. A professional can usually identify the problem by examining the unit’s control panel and using a multimeter to test for continuity between each pair of terminals on the switch. If there is a problem, it may be as simple as re-connecting the wires to their appropriate terminals. In rare cases, the switch itself might need to be replaced. However, a professional should always be used for this type of repair, as it involves dealing with gas and electricity, which can pose serious safety risks if not handled properly.