Businesses and technicians need to have a solid commercial refrigeration maintenance checklist. Learn how this protects people, hardware, and business budgets.

Key Takeaways:

  • Refrigeration maintenance requirements apply to any system using refrigerants
  • The EPA implements strict commercial refrigeration maintenance guidelines
  • Good refrigeration practice prevents financial loss on multiple fronts
  • 8 Steps help to make your maintenance checklist a good one

Commercial refrigeration maintenance is mission-critical for any premises dealing in foods, beverages, or other heat-sensitive items. It also applies to any property operating an HVAC system. Leaks, fines, and even legal issues are all costly possibilities that can result from insufficient refrigerator care.

This guide will highlight recent industry developments and the importance of putting together a complete commercial refrigeration checklist. It will also advise business owners on developing and implementing an effective commercial refrigeration maintenance program that keeps hardware, people, and profits safe.

Recent developments in commercial refrigeration maintenance

March 2020 saw the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revise their refrigerant leak rate calculations. The alterations to Section 608 went into effect in April 2020. These are directly linked to the Clean Air Act (CAA) and implemented several significant changes which every commercial operation should be aware of.

Impacted factors included refrigerant poundage, rate of addition, and permissible leak rates. Another important element is that the new ruling applies, depending on how parties interact with commercial refrigeration units.

Supermarket and property and facility managers must be aware of how the new rulings impact their role. The technicians who work on refrigerator maintenance and repair must also be up to speed on how the newest EPA regulations affect their performance.

How commercial refrigeration maintenance saves a fortune

Costs for non-compliance are steep for managers and technicians. The EPA can impose fines of up to $37,500 on managers every day that a CAA violation persists. Technicians who don’t follow EPA guidelines may be fined $20,000 a day. There is a long list of prosecuted companies, many of which have had to pay millions to the EPA because of improper commercial refrigeration maintenance. Having a proper maintenance routine in place will help you remain compliant.

8 musts for every commercial refrigeration maintenance checklist

Good maintenance practice is an ongoing responsibility. Some tasks can be performed at any time, while others will require less regular execution. In every instance, it’s best to speak to an electrical professional to be sure you’re proceeding effectively. Here’s how a great checklist looks.

1. Call in a reputable maintenance team

This step helps to put everything in perspective regarding your commercial refrigeration system’s current health. Experts can successfully address glaring issues as well as problems that aren’t so obvious.

From pipes and power cords to fans and fridge casings, the pros perform repair and maintenance tasks safely to keep you on the right side of code regulations. DIY fixes by managers or property owners can cause more harm than good by worsening existing issues, irreparably damaging equipment, or creating health and safety hazards.

2. Keep accurate maintenance and compliance records

Overlooking these twin factors is a costly mistake. Something Trader Joe’s learned to their cost when they had to pay $2.5 million in fines and compliance upgrades.

Every good maintenance team will provide their service notes in any format you request. Best practice here is to keep records of all maintenance procedures, times, and dates in multiple forms. This means using paperwork, digital files, and cloud storage combined with removable storage (flash drives), which can be kept offsite as extra coverage.

3. Keep refrigeration units well cleaned

The manufacturer’s manual is the best resource to consult when cleaning a refrigeration unit. It will provide a list of approved materials and a recommended frequency schedule to safely maintain the unit without harming its finish or function.

It is always best practice to consult with commercial refrigeration professionals before attempting any cleaning operations yourself. Many actions involve handling sensitive parts like fan blades, coil fins, and compressors which require specialized equipment and experience.

4. Make room for refrigeration

Every unit needs to have sufficient room around it to optimize airflow. This requires a safe distance from walls and other units and never storing objects too close to a standing unit or inside of any ducts necessary for it to function.

How the interior of a refrigeration unit is arranged is also critical to proper airflow, as is paying attention to industry-specific advice, which provides actionable insight. Following these steps helps prevent airflow woes like overheating, stalled operation, and malfunctions.

5. Check for temperature and leak issues

Refrigeration is all about staying cold but keeping units too cold can cause them to overwork and burn out (insufficiently cold units are obviously a problem). Consulting the legal requirements for commercial refrigerators and freezers is a good way for managers to get an operational figure regarding the right temperatures.

Check daily that the unit’s thermometer is working and registering a workable temperature that isn’t running too high or low. Leaks can be easy to spot when it’s oil, coolant, or water which are always signs to call a professional maintenance team right away.

What’s harder to see are refrigerated air leaks that can sneak out via several avenues.

6. Seek signs of structural strain

Commercial refrigeration units should be checked regularly for any cracks. These can start very small but grow quickly, with even the slightest breach being enough to allow potentially hazardous material into the air. Excessive ice gathering in or on a unit can also introduce another tiny danger: mold and mildew, which can breed to compromise food and enter air ducts to damage human health.

7. Monitor refrigerant receiver levels

Compare today’s refrigerant level with your previously recorded figure. This is best done daily or every other day. The level will naturally have decreased, but too steep a decline is a typical indicator of a refrigerant leak.

8. Look out for lights

Fluorescent lighting is the only kind a commercial refrigeration unit should be exposed to. Any other source will generate heat which defeats the purpose. Proper lighting is typically model-specific, so refer to the manufacturer’s manual to find the right bulbs for your unit.

Talk to Universal Electrical Services to stay cool on refrigeration

There’s a lot riding on taking care of your commercial refrigeration equipment, and our staff is here to make sure that’s a stress-free process for you. Visit our contact page if you have any questions or concerns about commercial refrigeration maintenance. The Universal Electrical Team is licensed through the state of Florida, and we can bring over 20 years of experience to solving your problem.