Refrigeration Maintenance, Walk-In Coolers and Freezers

Most refrigerators and walk-ins seem virtually indestructible and problem free, but you’ll get longer life out of yours by following these safety and maintenance tips. Clean the door gaskets and hinges regularly. The door gaskets, made of rubber, can rot more easily if they are caked with food or grime, which weakens their sealing properties. They can be safely cleaned with a solution of baking soda and warm water. Hinges can be rubbed with a bit of petroleum jelly to keep them working well. Dirty coils force the refrigerator to run hotter, which shortens the life of the compressor motor. They should be cleaned every 90 days, preferably with an industrial-strength vacuum cleaner.

Walk-in floors can be damp-mopped but should never be hosed out samsung refrigerator repair los angeles. Too much water can get into the seals between the floor panels and damage the insulation. A refrigerator only works as well as the air that’s allowed to circulate around its contents. Cramming food containers together so there’s not a spare inch of space around them doesn’t help. Also try to keep containers (especially cardboard ones) from touching the walls of the cabinet. They may freeze and stick to the walls, damaging both product and wall. Use a good rotation system: First in, first out (FIFO) is preferable. Or put colored dots on food packages, a different color for each day of the week, so everyone in your kitchen knows how long each item has been in the fridge.

WALK-IN COOLERS AND FREEZERS

A walk-in cooler is just what its name implies: a cooler big enough to walk into. It can be as small as a closet or as large as a good-size room, but its primary purpose is to provide refrigerated storage for large quantities of food in a central area. Experts suggest that your operation needs a walk-in when its refrigeration needs exceed 80 cubic feet, or if you serve more than 250 meals per day. Once again, you’ll need to determine how much you need to store, what sizes of containers the storage space must accommodate, and the maximum quantity of goods you’ll want to have on hand. The only way to use walk-in space wisely is to equip it with shelves, organized in sections. Exactly how much square footage do you need? The easiest formula is to calculate 1 to 1.5 cubic feet of walk-in storage for every meal you serve per day. Another basic calculation: Take the total number of linear feet of shelving you’ve decided you will need (A), and divide it by the number of shelves (B) you can put in each section.

This will give you the number of linear feet per section (C). To this number (C), add 40 to 50 percent (1.40 or 1.50) to cover “overflow”-volume increases, wasted space, and bulky items or loose product. This will give you an estimate of the total linear footage (D) needed. However, linear footage is not enough. Because shelves are three dimensional, you must calculate square footage. So multiply (D) by the depth of each shelf (E) to obtain the total square footage amount (F). Finally, double the (F) figure, to compensate for aisle space. Roughly half of walk-in cooler space is aisle space. Another popular formula is to calculate that, for every 28 to 30 pounds of food you’ll store, you will need 1 cubic foot of space. When you get that figure, multiply it by 2.5. (The factor 2.5 means only 40 percent of your walk-in will be used as storage space; the other 60 percent is aisles and space between products.)

The result is the size of the refrigerated storage area you will need. For a walk-in freezer, simply divide your walk-in refrigerator space by two. Larger kitchens, which serve more than 400 meals a day, may need as many as three walk-in refrigerators for different temperature needs: one for produce (41 degrees Fahrenheit), one for meats and fish (33 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit), and one for dairy products (32 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit). The walk-in is used most often to store bulk foods. Because this often means wheeling carts or dollies in and out, the floor should be level with the kitchen floor.

This leveling is achieved by the use of strips (called screeds) that are applied to the floor. Coolers don’t come as a single unit; they are constructed on-site. The walls, ceilings, and floors are made of individual panels. Wall panels should be insulated to a rating of R-30, which means a 4-inch thickness. They come in various lengths and widths, with 12-by-12-inch corner panels at 90-degree angles. They can be as short as 71?2 feet or as tall as 131?2 feet. The most common type of insulation inside the panels is polyurethane, and the outside walls of the panels can be made of stainless steel, vinyl, or aluminum. Stainless steel is the most expensive, and aluminum-because it’s the least expensive-is the most popular choice. If the walk-in is an outdoor installation, aluminum is the most weather resistant.

The installer will be sure the unit has interior lighting. The floor panels for walk-ins are similar to the wall panels. Load capacities of 600 pounds per square foot are the norm, but if you plan to store very heavy items (like beer kegs), a reinforced floor can be purchased with a load capacity of up to 1000 pounds per square foot. The refrigeration system of a walk-in is a more complex installation than a standard refrigerator, primarily because it’s so much bigger. Matching the system (and its power requirements) with the dimensions of the walk-in and its projected use is best left to professionals, but it’s important to note that a walk-in accessed frequently throughout the day will require a compressor with greater horsepower to maintain its interior temperature than one that is accessed seldom.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *