BHS Foodservice Solutions Blog

Common Problems with Commercial Refrigerators and How to Avoid Them

Posted by BHS Foodservice Solutions on 2/11/20 1:14 PM
BHS Foodservice Solutions


One of the biggest investments you’ll make in your restaurant will be heavy duty commercial-grade kitchen equipment, and more than likely, this will include some type of refrigeration. You will also likely, at some point at least, need to invest in some type of maintenance or upkeep, but there are some things you can do to stave off the need for fixing your unit.

Whether you’ll be purchasing a walk-in, undercounter, or tabletop refrigerator unit (among other options), here are some of the common problems you might encounter with these appliances and some things you can do to avoid them. This will ensure that you’re getting the best possible service life out of your new equipment.

The unit isn’t cooling fast enough or getting down to the proper temperature

If your refrigeration unit is having trouble getting to the proper temperatures, there could be a few things going on:

  • First, check that the unit is plugged in to a proper outlet. Many refrigerator units, especially the larger ones that use more power, require a special type of outlet that is able to provide the power it needs. If your unit is plugged into an outlet that isn’t fit for your unit or even an extension cord, chances are the refrigerator isn’t getting the type of juice it needs to function at an optimal level.
  • Also, check the thermometer which regulates the internal temperature. If that part of the unit if off, your appliance will have trouble adjusting. If the thermometer is malfunctioning, it can be replaced easily.
  • Make sure the unit has good ventilation. If the refrigerator is too close to the wall or the compressor is dirty or clogged, you might have a limited air flow that could be making it difficult for the unit to cool.

To avoid these issues, make sure your unit has access to the proper electrical outlet and that you routinely have the unit checked, cleaned, and maintained. Most of these issues can be avoided by implementing some basic upkeep and routine inspections and cleaning. Some maintenance manuals will recommend having the compressor cleaned around once every three months.

Increased power usage

If your commercial refrigerator unit is using too much power, it often indicates the unit is working harder to cool itself than it needs to. Some common issues could be what we’ve described above (improper outlet, broken thermometer, or lack of ventilation), but it could also be that there is a leak somewhere or that the seals aren’t airtight. Have your maintenance crew ensure the doors seal properly when the refrigerator shuts. Also consider having the compressor unit checked. Sometimes these can get clogged and the same things happens—the refrigerator is trying too hard to keep itself cool. Routine maintenance and cleaning should solve this issue but ignoring it will ensure you have problems with this eventually. Also, be aware of the type of lighting the unit is using as lighting creates heat. There should always be an automatic off switch or choose bulbs that give off less heat (whether by bulb type or lower wattages) so your refrigerating unit won’t have to work so hard to cool.

Buildup of ice

Sometimes you might find a buildup of ice or frost in the refrigerator or freezer of your commercial unit. This is a sign that you have liquid, usually in the form of condensation, getting into the inside the unit. Sometimes this can indicate that your defrosting cycle (all commercial units should have this) isn’t set properly or that you’re keeping the unit too cold.

As always, be sure to have your refrigerator properly maintained and frequently serviced so these issues can be caught early and any broken or malfunctioning parts can be promptly replaced. This should keep your unit running optimally and giving you the best service life possible

Can BHS Foodservice Solutions Help?

BHS Foodservice Solutions has over 80 years’ experience helping restaurants like yours find the best equipment and supplies for their commercial kitchens. If you have any questions, contact us, and one of our knowledgeable customer service representatives will help you find the equipment and services you need to increase kitchen productivity and maximize your food-industry investment with a solution that’s right for you.

Topics: Restaurant Food Storage, Food Safety, Restaurant Equipment, Commercial Refrigeration, Food Preparation