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Regardless of the type of restaurant you run, it’s essential to have a functional refrigerator. Keep in mind that the refrigerator is one of the most used pieces of equipment in your kitchen, so it deserves more attention than other appliances. A commercial refrigerator ensures safe cold food storage for your daily operations. As a restaurant manager or owner, you must be able to detect common issues with a commercial refrigerator. Here, we will examine some things to check when your commercial refrigerator is having problems with leaking, temperature, and power.

Refrigerator Has No Power or Won’t Turn On

What if your commercial refrigerator doesn’t turn on? When this happens, there are some things to check to ensure it’s getting the appropriate power supply.

First, ensure your refrigerator is plugged into a functional outlet. The power switch of the unit must be in the “on” position. Check if the power cord of the unit or in the wall is loose, split, or frayed.

Also, remember that using extension cords to connect your commercial refrigerator is not recommended, as it’s not always safe. In fact, most manufacturers would void your unit’s warranty if they found out you were using an extension cord.

Refrigerator Does Not Provide Sufficient Coldness

If you notice that the temperature in your commercial refrigerator isn’t cold enough, several factors could be causing this, either environmental or mechanical problems. Check the temperature gauge to see if it displays the correct temperature. Use a thermometer to double-check your unit’s temperature. If you find that the temperature gauge is incorrect, call your unit’s manufacturer for immediate repair.

Have you recently bought your unit? If so, there’s a chance it was tilted during installation or delivery. Let your unit sit for a day before switching it on again. Another cause of improper temperature is frequent opening of the door. Remind your employees to minimize door openings and avoid keeping it open for long.

Check if you can close your refrigerator’s doors properly. If not, you might need to replace the hinge or gasket to ensure proper sealing and retention of cold air. If sunlight hits your refrigerator directly or if your kitchen is extremely hot, this excessive heat could affect its functionality. Consider rearranging your kitchen layout to avoid direct sunlight exposure or proximity to hot cooking equipment.

Perhaps your refrigerator doesn’t offer proper coldness because it’s packed with too much food. If tightly packed, it’s hard for cool air to circulate efficiently. Ensure shelves are properly installed with a gap between the back of the unit and the shelving for effective air circulation.

Your refrigerator shouldn’t be placed near walls or other equipment. It requires ample room for air circulation. Ambient air cools its refrigerant and releases warm air. Check if the compressor is functioning properly. If on top, avoid placing anything on it to prevent airflow blockage.

Lastly, check if the condenser coils are clean, following the manufacturer’s guidelines. A buildup of grease and grime can affect the condenser’s performance.

The Refrigerator Is Extremely Cold and Ice Has Built Up

This issue often occurs when your refrigerator’s doors don’t close properly. Improper door closure can cause your unit to work harder to compensate for temperature inconsistencies, wasting energy and shortening its lifespan. It’s essential to check if your unit’s gaskets are properly sealed and its hinges are aligned.

Check if the evaporator of your refrigerator is functioning properly. If you hear noise from the fan, it may need replacement or repair to maintain proper temperature.

If parts of your unit’s coils are freezing, there may be a problem with your refrigerator’s pressures. Have them examined by a professional. Ensure that the defrost cycle, especially in auto-defrost models, is working correctly. The fans will thaw out the condenser coils within compressor cycles. If this cycle isn’t functioning properly, ice could build up. Check if you need to replace your unit’s defrost timer.

If you’re using a refrigerator that isn’t auto-defrost, monitor how often you manually defrost your unit. The frequency of manual defrosting will likely depend on the type of your unit. However, it’s important to defrost your refrigerator once ice buildup reaches a quarter of an inch.

Water is Leaking from Your Refrigerator

There are several reasons why water may be leaking from your unit. Perhaps the kitchen area is too humid. Excessive moisture can hinder your refrigerator’s proper functioning, leading to moisture problems around the unit’s doors and causing dripping in the evaporator pan.

Another reason could be uneven flooring where the refrigerator is placed. If the unit is tilted, the water in the evaporator pan could overflow. Consequently, if the pan is full, water could leak onto the floor.

Check the absorbent wicking in the pan; if it’s oversaturated, worn, or moldy, it needs replacement. If it’s full, it could indicate an issue with the compressor, as heat from the compressor is needed for water in the pan to evaporate.

If you find that your commercial refrigerator is no longer functioning properly, make sure you ask the right questions to diagnose the problem. One way to maintain your refrigerator’s performance is to ensure its coils are clean, avoid opening its doors too frequently or for extended periods, and provide ample space on the sides and top for proper airflow. If you can’t resolve the issue, contact a professional for assistance.

If the problem persists, it may be time to consider purchasing a new unit. At Mountain Sales and Services, you can find a variety of food service equipment, including commercial refrigerators and ice makers. Contact us at 303-289-5558 / 800-847-2557 or email us at for more information.