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Troubleshooting Commercial Refrigeration Problems

Keeping product out of the danger zone and ready for preparation on the line is one of the most important tasks facing any commercial kitchen, and your TURJRF45commercial refrigeration units play a critical role.

Maintaining and fixing the refrigeration units in your restaurant can be expensive, which is why it’s all the more important for you to be able to fix common issues that come up quickly without wasting a lot of time waiting for help.

Here’s a list of common commercial refrigeration issues and how to address them:

Did this troubleshooting guide help you?  Is there something that we missed here that will help others?  Leave a comment below and share your experiences fixing commercial refrigerators!

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About Greg McGuire

Greg has blogged about the food service industry for years and has been published in industry magazines, like Independent Restaurateur and industry blogs like Restaurant SmartBrief. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two sons and enjoys reading, live music, and the great outdoors.

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  1. This is a great group of articles. As any restaurant owner knows, keeping your refrigeration is crucial. Not only can poorly performing refrigeration ruin product but it can lead to health problems if your establishment inadvertently uses spoiled food.

  2. I have a barker cooler case, sometimes the lights will not come on….
    any idea’s


    • Hi Jeff,

      Sounds like you have a loose connection – either the bulbs themselves are loose or the wires to the socket are loose or are grounding out.

  3. michel rossignol

    my federal refrigerated bakery showcase is too humid does anyone have a solution?

  4. Having a problem with the temperture in a GE profile artica. The vegetable crisper is freezing the vegetables in the refrigerator, even when the settings in the refer and freezer are both set at “1”. Any ideas to correct, or is this just a product flaw?

    • Hi Steve,

      Thanks for submitting your question. Unfortunately, our area of expertise on this blog is for commercial refrigeration units. I wouldn’t want to steer you wrong with a residential unit. I would recommend looking up troubleshooting tips on GE’s site.

  5. comp would not run,cond fan runs only . temp rise in side the box.


  7. Hello, I have a commercial refrigerator cant be any older then 5 years and in good shape. The problem I am having is I set the digital temperature to 40degrees as its always been set and the temp. just keeps dropping to freezing levels. it dropped to 19 degrees. it happened once about 6months ago then once about 2 months ago. i unplugged it shook a couple wires around and everything was fine. but now it does it all the time, acting like a freezer now. any suggestions. i am formiliar with all the basic parts as i was in the HVAC field for a I dont have the unit info with me if needed let me know.

    • having the same problem. someone help

      • Tundra Restaurant Supply

        It sounds like there’s a thermostat/temp control issue. It’s like the cooking end, where you have a runaway thermostat that does not cycle off and keeps heating. And with refrigerators, because it isn’t cycling off, it just keeps cooling. It also will prevent you from being able to defrost. We’d recommend replacing your thermostat.

  8. Hello..please help me..what must i do,because my comercial refrigerator is cold but not Frost..please…?

    • Tundra Restaurant Supply

      Mr. Hakime,

      When was the last time the condenser coils were cleaned? If there’s dust & dirt build-up it will effect how the unit cools. Try cleaning the condenser coils, and see if that helps. If not, it’s likely the thermostat.

  9. Own a Vendor (model G319) and it’s not getting as cold as it used to. I already cleaned the condenser coils.

  10. I have a 40 year old reachin disply freezer that I had worked on in one of our buildings. all the wiring for three of the 6 evaperator fans burndt up, I replaced the wiring and also the defrost timer. but now they are saying they think the fans are turning the wrong direction, Is this possible ? they are 230v single phase. The condensing unit is 3 phase, I havent been back out there but he told me the fans are pulling air in from the fan shroud than back out the evaperator. I know that the walkin freezers & coolers all pull air from the back of evaperator & out the fan shroud. our display casses different? I have to run out there tomorrow and look at it. Any suggestions?

  11. Thanks for getting these articles together. Like you said, it is important to be able to fix common issues quickly. I worked in a garde manger for a while, and it was difficult to continue to work efficiently when the refrigerator was acting up. My boss would have been less stressed out if we’d had this information. These articles also help you to recognize what kinds of problems you need a professional to come fix.

  12. Thank you for your help. I have been wanting to be able to fix problems myself. I like how you provided a list of a lot of common issues. I will have to try this out.

  13. Refrigeration Freezers

    This is a great article! Fixing a fridge yourself saves so much money! WIth fridges and freezers its important to get a good quality one.

  14. HI, I have a True GDM 26 with a Dixell Digital Thermometer. It is set to 35 degrees with a temp differential of 3 degrees. When I turn the unit on, everything runs fine. The evaporator fan, condenser fan, and compressor all run and the unit gets down to 35 degrees like it supposed to. The compressor is supposed to turn back on at 38 degrees (because of the 3 degree differential) and it sounds like it does, but the unit just keeps getting warm. It warms for about 30 minutes (the time varies) and usually gets to 50+ degrees (temperature varies) before it starts to cool. It will then go down to 35 degrees and then start the process again. When the compressor kicks back on at 38 degrees, I can hear the hum of it so I know that it is doing something, but its just not cooling.

    • Hi Bryan,

      I would suspect that the differential is too small. The unit needs to have a little bit of time to rest and possibly to defrost itself. Refrigerators don’t have a defrost cycle or a defrost heater, but when they are cooling the coils gets below freezing to achieve the temperature you have it set at. The unit needs to blow air across the coil when the compressor is not running to knock off any frost or ice. You should contact the factory and talk to their technicians to confirm, but that is most likely your problem.

      – Paul
      Tundra Team

  15. My commercial 2 door refrigerator when the fan starts it sounds like the fan is hitting something.

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