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It's Not On The Cake: Icing In Your Walk-In

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If you're new to managing a commercial kitchen, there are some common issues you should be attentive to. One of the most common problems that you might encounter is icing inside your walk-in cooler. If you've never dealt with this before, it can be puzzling and difficult to deal with. Before you call the local commercial refrigeration technician, there are a few things that you should know.

What Causes Icing?

Icing usually develops as a result of poor seals or damaged gaskets around the walk-in door. When that seal is failing, it allows warm, humid air to seep into the walk-in. The moisture in that air freezes rapidly, causing the icing problem. Even if the gaskets are fine, it can also occur if the door isn't closing properly. Whether your staff is leaving it partway open or the hinges and closer have failed, either one can cause this.

If the icing that you spot is on the evaporator coil, it's likely due to problems with the fan delay relay. If the relay fails, the fan won't function as it's intended, allowing moisture to settle on the evaporator coil and freeze. You'll need a commercial refrigeration technician for this because the technician will be able to test the relay and replace it if needed.

Another common cause of icing is a clog in the condensate drain line. If the line is clogged, water won't flow through it properly. This causes water to pool, freezing as it sits. Icing that appears on the sides of the cooler may be the result of old insulation. As the insulation panels age, they can accumulate ice inside the panels. In addition, the insulating benefit of those panels will decrease, leading to more icing inside the cooler and increased energy costs.

Why Should You Be Concerned About Icing?

The melting and refreezing ice inside the walk-in can actually lead to water accumulation inside the cooler. This can damage the interior of the cooler as well as cause damage to the products that are stored inside. This may cause you to lose inventory, costing you more to restock. The evaporator fans can also be damaged by the icing because the fan blades can hit accumulated ice, chipping the blades or causing the fan to jam.

In addition, icing can lead to significantly increased energy costs. It can reduce the efficiency of the walk-in, making it work harder. The warmer, more humid air also causes the unit to run more extensively to maintain the cold temperatures.

How Can You Prevent Icing?

Preventative maintenance and routine inspections are the best way to prevent your coolers from icing. You should regularly inspect the gaskets, drains, doors, interior walls, and insulation panels for any signs of damage. Add vinyl strips or air curtains to the interior of the cooler to help keep the warm air and humidity out of the cooler. It's also important that you run the defrost cycle regularly. This helps to keep frost and ice out of the cooler. Just make sure that you follow the instructions provided by the cooler manufacturer so that you run the defrost cycle long enough to even clear out any ice that you may not see.

Keeping your restaurant's coolers running at their best means understanding the things that can potentially cause problems. Things like icing are serious concerns. With the information here, you can not only understand what causes icing, but also understand why it is problematic and what you can do to prevent it from happening. Talk with a local commercial refrigeration technician today to schedule routine inspections and maintenance. With a technician you can count on, it's easier to plan your routine and keep the coolers running at their best.