Maintaining Your Walk-in Cooler or Freezer

Whether you run a restaurant, convenience store or a supermarket, your walk-in is an important investment. It should be taken care of to ensure many years of efficient usage. Here are tips from walk-in manufacturer U.S. Cooler for maintaining your walk-in cooler or freezer.

How to keep your walk-in operating efficiently:

torn gasket
Torn gaskets can let warm air infiltrate your walk-in cooler or freezer
  • Close the door when not in use. Do not block or prop the door open for extended periods of time. Make sure it is closed at all times except when entering and exiting the walk-in.
  • Periodically (minimum of twice a year) clean the evaporator and condensing coil. If located outside, the coils should be cleaned more often. Clean the fan blades to reduce drag.
  • Make sure fan motors are running at optimum speed.
  • On outside condensing units, maintain clear and adequate airflow. For example, do not allow trash or weeds to accumulate around the walk-in.
  • Make sure there is nothing stacked around the coil to prevent restricted airflow.
  • Do not pile anything on top of the walk-in. This could cause damage to the ceiling panels.
  • Occasionally have a service technician check all electrical connections to make sure they are good and tight. Loose wires could cause high amperage, which will cause your unit to use more energy.
  • Check for damage or decay in the insulation on suction lines between the condensing unit and evaporator coil. Replace as needed.
  • Hinges should be lubricated once a year to ensure they close properly. (Some hinges utilize self-lubricating nylon cams, so this will not be necessary if that is the case.)
  • Make sure the lights are off when exiting the walk-in. Lights produce heat, which will cause your unit to run more to hold its optimal temperature. Make sure your walk-in has a switch with a pilot light so you can tell if the light is on without opening the door.
  • Check the door sweep for tears and make sure it is sealing properly against the threshold.
  • Periodically, check gaskets between panels to make sure they are not cracked or weathered. Replacement of damaged gaskets will ensure your walk-in is efficient and up to local health codes.

How to keep your walk-in cooler or freezer clean:

clean walkin
Do not use harsh detergents on metal surfaces.
  • Soap and water is the best cleaning method for your walk-in. Do not use harsh chemicals as it may react and harm the metal surface of your walk-in. For chemicals not to use read this pdf.
  • Minimum of twice a year use a self-rinsing cleaner, soap and water or stiff bristled brush to clean your evaporator and condensing coils.
  • Drain lines – at least once a year, work with a service tech to make sure the drain lines are clean and not clogged with any debris.
  • Door gaskets – Regularly wipe down with soap and water to prevent bacterial or mold growth. If door gaskets are damaged, cracked or stiff, the magnet will not seal and will need to be replaced.
  • Sweep or mop floors to make sure they are kept clean from food debris that will mold or attract pests.

Mistakes operators most commonly make:

  • Turning holding temperature too low for product, this causes the refrigeration to overwork.
  • Walk-in manufacturers install a thermostat on the outside of the door that reads the internal temperature of the walk-in. There is a chance that the thermostat is faulty or needs to be recalibrated. Always have a backup thermometer in the walk-in to make sure the walk-in is holding the optimal temperature.
  • Stacking boxes or food too close to the door thermometer-sensing bulb or thermostat-sensing bulb can cause a false reading of the temperature in the walk-in.

Advice on safety related issues:

  • Make sure you clean up any liquid spills as soon as they happen. This is especially important in freezers as the liquid will start to freeze immediately and can be dangerous.
  • Non-skid strips are available for the floors, to ensure a non-slip environment.
  • Keep aisles clear and do not overload walk-in by stacking too much in your cooler or freezer. Stack things neatly to make sure you are able to take good inventory of your stock.
  • Power outage – A typical walk-in will maintain temperature for about 12 hours as long as door is kept closed. If the power outage lasts longer than 12 hours, consider a back-up generator.
  • The Cold Storage Cleaning Experts June 12, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    Hi All,

    If you are in doubt about how to clean your walk-in cooler, why not contact the experts and have them do it for? You can contact us via email as listed on this profile. We use specially formulated products for a professional clean. These products are safe to use in Food Storage areas, biodegradable and no/low odor. With our launch on July 1 2009 in the United States, we will have an Expert in your area.

    • dana henderson March 2, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      Can you please contact me and let me know if you service Norman, Ok and if you could give me a quote too.

    • Andre Leonard September 22, 2016 at 12:33 am

      I have a large coil room (3) with coils that are staggered 10 coils over one another. I am having a problem with mold (pink) forming on the coils. I need a foaming cleaning with a mold inhibitor. Currently I have been using a product that requires multiple applications (4) to get it cleaned, and this occurs weekly.

      Any suggestions on how other food processors have dealt with this would be appreciated.

  • Andy Luci March 4, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    I have a walk in theat needs to be cleaned, it i 6×6 it has mold. ploease contact me. you could also reach me at 559-350-0734

  • Ray November 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    I have 7 walk in freezers in a mall ,
    Would you please give me some tips on how to maintain inside walk in freezer and how to keep the floor inside and outside clean?
    Do i use just water and soap or water and soap then rinse with water?
    Furthermore,how to clean the freezer’s door
    inside and out?
    Thank you

  • Sr. Tri Giac January 17, 2013 at 11:25 am

    I have a walk in cooler, I d’ont know If I can keep any stainless steel in the cooler ?
    And any material I can not keep in the cooler ?
    Please, let me know as soon as possible then I can keep my cooler for longer.
    Thank you for your heip.
    Sr, Tri Giac

  • Effie Forrest February 3, 2013 at 5:19 am

    baking soda be placed in cooler to absorb odor?

    • David February 4, 2013 at 8:52 am

      Definitely! Just like with any household fridge it will absorb strong acid or base smells. You’ll just need to use enough to cover the whole walk-in or strategically place the containers near things like produce that tend spoil.

  • Paul February 6, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Hi I want to screed my walk in fridge and freezer but have no idea if or where I can get. Obviously it needs to be a specialist screed for temp. Please help

    • David February 6, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      You can buy screed for 4-inch wide panels here
      It’s not recommended to have screed on a walk-in freezer because it should have an insulated floor (and not be placed directly on concrete).

  • Paul February 6, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    That’s helpful racking etc would affect screed cement. What if I cleaned floor as is then primed and painted ?I’m think this is best option now. As these paints have cost me $600 already. Thanks for quick response.

  • Paul February 6, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Floor now is an insulated floor

  • Kevin May 17, 2014 at 1:24 am

    Hi, I have recently emptied and cleaned out my walk-in chiller, in order to sell the complete unit. Is there anything required with the condensing unit for shut down prior to moving the chiller to new owner?

    • David May 19, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      Make sure you pump the system down so the refrigerant is all inside the unit. Then cut and seal all the lines to prevent leaks.

  • Michael June 26, 2014 at 9:33 am

    I have a cooler floor that is open and needs to be re-sealed and the owner does not want to shut down. I can not find a sealer the 1 is safe to use with the 38deg temp and 2 that odor is to strong any advise?
    Thank you

  • barbara August 26, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Hi.. I need as advice .. we are reopening a restaurant and tavern has been closed down for about two years..I am in charge of getting it up and running and it needs to be operational. Right now it needs a lot of repairs. We want to get the kitchen and cooler up to code to pass inspection. what recommendations do you have in regards to walls and ceiling repairs? any advice would be appreciated ..thanks

    • David August 26, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      What are the specific issues with your panels and ceiling? If a panel is too damaged or rusted out you may need to replace it. Make sure any new hardware, paint, caulk or other repair materials that you’re using on the cooler are NSF approved.

  • Matt November 13, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Why not just use a a walk behind auto scrubber and a good quality freezer floor cleaner. This is how large companies with very large freezers and coolers keep their freezers clean enough to pass inspection. Won’t freeze until -30* and the scrubber does the dirty work and vacuums everything up.

  • rick December 31, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Hi I just turned on our walk-in cooler after being shut down for several months and it keeps tripping the breaker, does anyone know what might be wrong?.

  • Brendon July 28, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Some very good pointers in this article. Many of these get overlooked and end up being costly repairs down the road. Very simple tasks to ensure your equipment runs hassle free for as long as possible. Time well spent!!

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  • Johnkbliss February 16, 2016 at 12:54 am

    All tips are very clearly explained…
    I think choosing a right Freezer is a wise investment … Its an appliance which will keeps the frozen food long -lasting… So freezers should be clean properly…. after an proper interval of time..

    I really appreciate your blog.. Very nice information you shared..
    Thanks a lot !!!

  • daniel carpenter June 6, 2016 at 7:59 am

    hi im trying to put some type of pallet system to get everything off the floor but i need some type of drip catching system for under the pallet system any ideas would be greatly appreciated thanks and god bless

  • daniel carpenter June 6, 2016 at 8:00 am

    pallet system in the bottom of my cooler

  • Matt August 1, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    We only use our walk in coolers 3 days a week and keep the doors open when they are turned off to avoid smells. Why do you say “Do not block or prop the door open for extended periods of time.” Thanks!

    • Mickey Gauld August 2, 2016 at 7:59 am

      That applies to when the walk-in is in use. Blocking the door open when the unit is running can cause issues with the refrigeration unit. When the unit is not in use then leaving the door propped open would not be detrimental.

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