Although regularly cleaning the condenser can help extend the service life of roll-in refrigerators, operators and trained service professionals do need to provide other basic maintenance requirements.

Wipe the cabinet’s interior daily and clean the condenser coils monthly or at least every other month. Operators should also check often for torn gaskets as these will prevent doors from sealing properly and compromise storage temperatures. In addition, pay special attention to the ramp and seal on the bottom of the unit, which should remain clean. Clean evaporator fins often, especially when the unit gets exposed to grease.

Here, John Schwindt, general manager and vice president of operations at Hawkins Commercial Appliance Service Co., Englewood, Colo., provides a service agent’s insight on the care of roll-in refrigerators.

  • Roll-in refrigeration units are very misunderstood. They are designed for a very specific purpose. The cooler itself is designed for holding large trays of food after it is prepared and waiting to be cooked or served.
  • The door is opened and closed just to put in or remove racks. If the unit is used as a grab-and-go cooler and the door is being opened and closed a hundred times a day, the refrigeration system can’t keep up and will not be able to maintain the proper temperature.
  • When installed correctly and used as designed, these units require very little maintenance. Just like regular refrigeration, depending on the environment they are installed in, you must do all of the planned maintenance as prescribed in the user manual.
  • Depending on the environment, you might have to perform this maintenance two to six times a year. But usually these units are installed in the back of a large kitchen in a food prep area away from the heat, greasy and/or dirty environment of a line unit.
  • These units have a larger door that isn’t being slammed or closed with a foot or knee a hundred times a day, unlike other forms of refrigeration. The door gasket will last a long time if the racks roll 
    in correctly.
  • If the carts get bent from use and abuse or the casters get worn or damaged, they don’t roll in correctly and ruin the door gasket.
  • If the caster gets damaged and is not repaired, it can even ruin the floor of the cooler, which is extremely expensive to repair.
  • If you cover the rack of product with big plastic bags, it blocks the airflow onto the product and prevents the unit from properly cooling the food.