With the summer season just around the corner, refrigeration systems are set to work harder than usual. FEJ caught up Gary Barnabas, commercial manager at bottle cooler manufacturer IMC, to discuss how operators can ensure they are best prepared and don’t get caught cold (or rather hot!).
Higher ambient temperatures tend to mean increased workload for refrigeration systems. How should operators prepare for this in the coming weeks?
Correct Stocking. Adding too many room-temperature items makes the refrigerator work harder at cooling. Stock with cellar temperature bottle if possible. The refrigerator should be well stocked but not over crowded. The thermal mass of a correctly stocked fridge helps maintain temperature while an over stocked unit restricts airflow and again makes the refrigeration system work harder.
How important is to keep refrigeration systems clean this time of year?
The front grill should be kept free of dust to permit free air flow to the condenser. Regularly clean the condenser coil with a brush or vacuum cleaner to remove dirt and other accumulations to ensure top performance. And give it space. Make sure your refrigerator isn’t pushed up against a wall so air can circulate freely and better disperse heat from the condenser. Leave a few inches between the wall and the refrigerator.
A broken or badly fitted door seal means that the compressor is on longer and has to work harder to ensure the contents are kept at the desired temperature.
Manufacturers often talk about keeping refrigeration airtight. Why is this?
Over time, gaskets and seals can become leaky. A broken or badly fitted door seal means that the compressor is on longer and has to work harder to ensure the contents are kept at the desired temperature. This is generally an easy fix but one that will cause a multitude of problems. To test your door, hold a piece of paper on the door frame and close the door. If you can pull it out easily, the seal or gasket may need replacing. I’d also advise defrosting. Ensure your refrigerator performs a correct defrost, a sure way to kill a refrigerator is to allow excessive ice to build up particularly on the evaporator.
What are the most common areas / components of refrigeration systems that break down during the summer months? Is there anything operators can do to minimise this?
The components likely to breakdown during the summer months do not really vary from those problems you have from year round use, it is just they become more critical as the unit generally has to work harder. The most common cause of breakdown is the condenser blocking. In summer months the unit works harder and consequently the condenser fan is on greater use flowing more air over the condenser fins. This results in a faster build-up of dust and debris between the fin blades. So a thorough and more regular cleaning is essential during the summer months.
What sort of maintenance regime should operators ideally have in place to limit the amount of refrigeration problems they face over the summer months?
The most important point to remember is regular and scheduled maintenance. The actual process of cleaning and maintenance of your cooler is generally straightforward, it is the difficulties in training staff to ensure these tasks are done on a timely basis this is generally the biggest hurdle to cross. Timely maintenance and cleaning will increase energy efficiency, speed up pull down times and maintain the desired temperature more easily. During the summer months we recommend cleaning at least every month to ensure optimal performance. Exterior and interior cleaning is also essential for hygiene and the correct presentation of premium products.