Walk-in coolers and freezers are too often neglected from regular maintenance resulting in high energy costs and unnecessary expenses. HumiTEC services over 600 walk-in units on a monthly basis. The common problems that we encounter lead to high energy costs, premature equipment failure, and safety issues.
Most issues that we encounter are with the cooler/freezer box itself. The most common problem is water leaking from the seams. Dripping water not only causes wet floors, but when combined with dirty floors and shelves, creates the perfect environment for mold to grow. The dripping water, in most cases, is actually the result of warm air being sucked into the colder air space thus, causing condensation. The gaps in the seams can be caused from poor installation or from old age. This problem can be easily fixed by caulking the seams with a high grade mold resistant silicone.
The cooler door itself is also a commonly neglected component. The problems we look for here include door gasket condition, door closure assist, and heater strip functionality. Torn/worn door gaskets, while they may seem like non replaceable parts, are actually a fairly inexpensive, easy items to replace. The best way to check the condition is to actually walk inside the cooler with the lights off and close the door. If you can see light coming in, then they might need replacement. Air leaks from torn gaskets around the door can cause excess water on the floor as well as higher humidity levels inside the cooler. This environment is a cause for concern in regards to safety issues and high energy demands.
The door closure assist on the outside of the door grabs the door and pulls it tightly closed. These assists are usually made up of springs or a small hydraulic cylinder. Both can wear out over time resulting in a door that never completely closes. If you replace it with the exact same style, a door closure assist can be replaced in 5 minutes or less.
The heater strip is a little more difficult to replace and should only be completed by a trained professional. It keeps the gasket pliable in order to make a tight seal. It is located in the frame of the door opening, usually behind a shiny metal strip. It should be warm to the touch. Faulty heater strips will cause stuck doors in freezers and even ice buildup around the door frame.
The other problems that we see occur with the evaporator itself. The evaporator is the unit inside the cooler box that actually cools the air by removing the latent heat or humidity. Frozen coils and water dripping form the drain pan on the evaporator are two issues that can usually be avoided if a good maintenance program is implemented. Frozen coils on the evaporator are usually caused by excess dirt and build-up resulting in poor airflow. This causes the unit to work harder. The other reason is due to a lack of refrigerant. Both issues will cause the evaporator to operate inefficiently.
An overflowing drain pan is caused from the drain pan or line being clogged. This is usually an easy fix that can be resolved by clearing the line. There are products available that can placed in the drain pan to help breakdown and reduce the sediment in the lines.
All of these areas should be evaluated on a regular basis in order to avoid costly repairs and product losses. It is much cheaper to be proactive and address these issues before they become major problems.