How to Avoid Commercial Cooler Meltdowns

Avoid Some Costly Repair Bills by Leveling Your Commercial Refrigerator

The commercial refrigerator or commercial freezer you ordered from KaTom has arrived and it fits the space the contractor left for it. You even remembered to let it rest for a day after it came off the truck to allow all the internal fluids to settle, then you plugged it in and it started cooling. All is well in the kitchen. At least, at first.

A few days later, you notice water dripping on your food and pooling in the bottom of the unit. You wonder which employee keeps spilling water in the unit and not cleaning it up, but other than that, you’re still in the honeymoon phase of having new commercial refrigeration. That is, until that shiny new unit suddenly stops cooling one night and you come in to a box full of spoiled food.

You call out a certified service technician and he or she looks at your commercial cooler for a few minutes before offering a diagnosis: Your evaporator is frozen. You demand to know how that could happen with a brand new unit and begin cursing the manufacturer as the technician looks on patiently. When you calm down, you learn that the whole situation was likely caused by the pitch of the refrigeration unit preventing condensate from the evaporator from moving to the condenser.

The bad news is this poor leveling issue may not be covered by the warranty, leaving you stuck with a maintenance bill, and you may be out a day’s worth of profit as you wait for new food. The good news is, the situation is completely – and easily – avoidable with the twist of a wrench at install.

With differences in the manufacturing process, bumps on the delivery truck’s route, and variations in the floor of your kitchen, there’s a good chance your commercial cooler won’t be exactly level at first. Unfortunately, whether someone in-house installs the unit or a contractor does that work, there’s no guarantee they’ll realize that might be an issue or know how to fix it if it is. But you’ll be ready to guide them with our handy guide on leveling commercial refrigeration.

Simple Steps to Avoid Finding Your Commercial Cooler on ice

The easiest and best way to avoid having a malfunctioning commercial refrigerator or freezer is to hire a certified service company to handle all the refrigeration leveling work. They’ll know exactly what it takes to install the unit, including proper leveling. Barring that, here are some steps to get you started.

Step 1: Know what you're dealing with.

One of your first moves when you bring in a new commercial freezer or refrigerator, before you ever plug it in, should be to use a level to check balance from left to right and front to back. Because of the possibility of slight discrepancies in the floor, be sure to do this check where the unit will be installed. If you don’t find any issues, then your unit can basically be treated as plug-and-play. If there are some unexpected slopes, continue on to step 2.

Step 2: Locate the manual and tools.

Though many people don’t know how to level commercial refrigeration, the simple process is actually detailed in the manual that ships with each unit. Manufacturers also typically include a caster wrench and some small pieces that look like washers – they’re actually called caster shims – with every commercial cooler they ship. Following the directions in the manual, you’ll likely be directed to install anywhere from one to three shims per caster to level your commercial refrigerator. Put in one at a time until your level indicates you’ve found balance. The most important part of this process is to not forget that you need to level your unit both side-to-side and front-to-back.

Step 3: Start it up.

Once your commercial refrigerator is operating on the level, you’re ready to plug it in. Best practice guidelines call for waiting a few hours to bring the interior temperature to safe levels. Once that’s been accomplished, you can load the cabinet. If you’ll be storing food products that have been cooked or are at warmer temperatures than the inside of your commercial refrigerator, it’s recommended that you only put small amounts of those food items in at a time. Allow an hour or more between loads for the food to cool and for the commercial cooler to recover its internal temperature.