The high ambient temperatures of summer can really take a toll on your refrigeration. While all types of refrigeration are susceptible to this wear and tear, it is especially important to limit the effects of the hot humid days on your walk-in. It is likely to be your most expensive piece of refrigeration and the one that houses a great deal of your valuable inventory, making it costly to repair and food spoilage detrimental.
The easiest way to limit the effects of summer on your walk-in is to make sure it is operating efficiently and you are using it correctly. Adhering to these guidelines will help reduce the load on the refrigeration system:
- Keep the door closed at all times except when entering and exiting. Do not prop the door open when stocking the walk-in.
- Ensure the fan motors are in good working order without bent or damaged blades.
- Do not restrict airflow by stacking product against the coil.
- Perform routine checks for decay in the insulation on the suction lines between the condensing unit and evaporator.
- Check door gaskets for cracks or tears.
- Have a technician check the evaporator unit to make sure all the wiring is secure and insulated.
- Consider using a timer switch for the lights. This will reduce energy usage and heat in the box.
- Clean the condensing coil and evaporator at least twice per year.
If you are looking to replace your current walk-in or are just building your restaurant and need to purchase a walk-in, making sure you choose the right unit for your needs will have a big impact on its efficiency and longevity. Overloading an improperly sized walk-in will take a major toll on its ability to operate in warmer weather conditions. Keep these tips in mind when selecting a walk-in:
- Understand the needs of your establishment and how much product you will need to store at any given time. A standard guideline is to plan for 1 cubic foot of space for every 28 lbs. of food. It is also important to ensure the refrigeration system has the proper amount of BTUs to cool the product you will be storing; different foods cool faster and more easily than others.
- How often will your food deliveries occur? It may be more cost effective to have more frequent deliveries and purchase a smaller walk-in.
- How will you use your walk-in on a daily basis? If it will encounter a great deal of traffic you may want to consider a strip curtain or automatic door closer to prevent temperature exchange.
- Determine the type of refrigeration that will work best for your location. Walk-ins are available with side mount, top mount or remote systems. All of our Kold Locker Norlake brand walk-ins include the Capsule Pak™ refrigeration system. The refrigeration system has a flush coil that keeps all the components outside the walk-in and increases your usable storage space.
- The structure and efficiency of a walk-in starts with the panels. The panel construction of our Norlake brand walk-ins includes 4 inch thick foam-in-place insulation for a strong, energy efficient wall. All panels are manufactured to be dimensionally correct and include quality cam locking fasteners for an air tight installation.
- Familiarize yourself with any local code and health department regulations before ordering your unit to ensure you are adhering to their guidelines.
- Installing a walk-in can be a difficult task if the proper preparations are not made. A level floor or pad is the key to making installation easier. It is also important to remember that an aluminum floor is to be used on all freezers, and recommended on refrigerated walk-ins. If a floor is not being used, the floor surface needs to be ground level. Our Kold Locker walk-ins are the first choice of many experienced installers since the installation process is quick, easy and precise. This often saves hundreds of dollars in installation labor costs.
Once you have your walk-in in operation, there are a few additional tips to keep in mind during daily operation. These practices will help you extend the life of your walk-in, the inventory stored within it, and adhere to health inspector regulations.
- Monitor the temperature to ensure that food is being held properly. New glycol thermometers help to mimic food temperatures rather than air temperature to give you even more accurate results. Temperature monitoring systems will also help track temperature changes in the event of a door being left open or power outages.
- Make sure the lighting is sufficient for cleaning and stocking. Using bulbs specifically designed for walk-ins is also very important to prevent broken glass from shattered bulbs from getting into your food.
- Keep food off the floor with dunnage racks or shelving. This helps reduce the chance of cross contamination, allows for easier cleaning and helps with air circulation throughout the box.
- Shelving needs to be kept clean and rust free.
- Keep the floors clean and free of spills or ice build-up. Slips and unsanitary conditions are a major liability for your business.
- As mentioned before, make sure doors and gaskets are operating properly and install a strip curtain if traffic in and out of the walk-in will be heavy.