Walk-ins and Warm-air Infiltration

Once a walk-in cooler or freezer is installed, operators hope to experience several years of reliable service with minimal required maintenance and no performance issues. After all, walk-ins are built to be durable, dependable pieces of equipment capable of withstanding a variety of conditions without system failure. If you discover significant ice buildup in the interior of your walk-in freezer or condensation in a cooler, it can be tempting to suspect a manufacturing defect. However, this issue is more often actually caused by warm air infiltration, which may be an easy fix.

Causes of Warm Air Infiltration

Although many walk-in freezers and coolers are designed to be installed quickly and without the assistance of a professional, it's important to ensure the manufacturer's installation instructions are precisely followed throughout the process. This can help prevent warm air infiltration caused by incorrect installation from occurring.

In walk-ins, condensation forms where cold air meets hot air. This makes it easy to identify where warm air infiltration is occurring, since condensation may form on the interior or exterior of the unit. The most common locations of warm air infiltration are at panel seams and by the door.

If you've noticed condensation collecting in the area where two panels connect, the issue may be caused by panels not being properly locked together or by damaged panel seams. If the panels don't appear to be damaged or incorrectly interlocked, but warm air infiltration is still occurring, you may be able to treat the area with silicone sealant.

Loose door hinges may allow the door to hang incorrectly and cause condensation to form near the door. If you cannot tighten the hinges, you may need to purchase replacement hinges to ensure your walk-in door has an airtight seal. Some walk-in manufacturers offer adjustable hinges to prevent this issue.

Door condensation may also be caused by warm air infiltrating the unit when the door is opened. To help reduce the amount of warm air that can enter the unit, you may wish to install a strip curtain to act as a barrier; air doors may help address the issue in a walk-in cooler, but should never be used in a walk-in freezer.

Condensation forming on or near the door could also be due to worn-out gaskets. Fortunately, most gaskets are magnetic and removable, so a replacement gasket that provides a secure seal can be purchased.

If your walk-in cooler or freezer is under warranty, you should consult the manufacturer before diagnosing the cause of your warm air infiltration or performing any maintenance on your unit.