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Floor Strainers: What Do You Need Them For?

Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” With that in mind, are you doing everything you can to protect your floor drains? With items like vegetable cuttings, miscellaneous trash bits and general dirt finding its way into your floor drains, it’s just a matter of time before disease, foul odors, slip hazards and health code violations fall into your hands. At worst, you may have to close down your kitchen for a day to remove the clog. At best, the kitchen will have to work around a plumber for a few hours. This is an inconvenience and costly expense you can easily prevent!Floor Strainers: What Do You Need Them For?

A floor drain strainer, as with strainers used in sinks, is a device that insets into the floor drain and collects all debris entering the drain, preventing it from creating a clog. Floor drain strainers come in different sizes and styles and are usually plastic or metal. The most common types either sit in the floor drain or are a cover attached to the top of the drain. Regardless of which style best serves you, the cost of the strainer will be far less than the cost of one plumber service call.

When it comes to selecting a floor drain strainer, follow these three steps:

  1. Identify the style of your drain
  2. Determine the types of debris that could potentially clog your drain
  3. Select a strainer that will provide the greatest protection

Though floor drain strainers are not required in every state they are highly recommended. Preventative plumbing will create fewer plumbing expenses, eliminate wet and slippery floors, risk of fines and increase employee productivity. The benefits far outweigh the expenses.

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Know-How from the Guys Who Know How

Tundra Restaurant Supply has been in the business of pleasing customers and sharing industry knowledge for almost 20 years. From the sales floor to your kitchen, our team of technicians and know-how gurus are here to make sure your restaurant equipment works properly, is installed correctly, and gets fixed when something fails.

Kevin Nakata, inside sales and technical support, has been with the company for nearly 3 years and frequently helps customers troubleshoot problems. Sharing some technician insight, Kevin has highlighted a handful of valuable products every restaurant can benefit from buying.

Know How from the Guys Who Know How

Kevin Nakata – Inside Sales and Technical Support

What are 5 products service technicians use regularly?

  1. Seat Washers (faucet part) – “Over time seat washers go bad, and this is the main reason for most faucet drips. Techs purchase seat washers because when you have a faucet that drips a seat washer usually takes care of the problem.”
  2. Silicone Sealant –“ Silicone Sealant is used to fill holes in walls or reseal around sinks and toilets. Techs also use silicone as filler in walls instead of spackle. Since silicone comes in a wide variety of colors and you can match it to walls easily techs don’t have to sand and paint the wall. You can use it on sinks to keep the mold from getting behind the sink and for keeping other debris from getting in to the cracks and causing bacteria growth. The reason they use it on toilets is to keep the sewer gases where they need to be. Nothing smells worse than the smell of sewer when you are trying to eat or use the bathroom.”
  3. Thermocouples – “This is the fix-all when a pilot light does not stay lit. Nine out of ten times when a pilot light does not stay lit the thermocouple is bad.”
  4. Faucet Parts – “Techs keep these on hand for the simple reason a faucet is easy to repair and it only takes 30 minutes or less to fix any faucet problem.”
  5. Pilots and Pilot Valves – “These parts are the most commonly used parts for gas range tops. Techs keep these on hand simply because pilot heads and valves go bad after time due to food debris getting to these pieces which causes them to clog. It’s easier to replace a bad pilot than trying to unclog one.”

Each of these technician go-to products can be purchased for less than $50, in some cases less than $1, and save you a ton of time and money. Calling in a technician to fix a small leak or a clogged valve automatically costs you big bucks, and you may be getting charged an hour’s wage for a 15 minute fix. Stock up on some technician essentials and be ready for that leak or clog. It’s smart to keep a tool kit on-site, and adding a few extras like faucet parts and seat washers help complete your kit.

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When Restaurant Equipment Goes Down: 10 Ways To Save

When Restaurant Equipment Goes Down: 10 Ways To SaveKeeping your commercial kitchen humming along is not always an easy proposition.  You use this equipment every day, and sooner or later something is going to give out on you.  If the next step you’re used to taking is picking up the phone to call your service tech, this post is for you.

That’s because if you have the right tools and a little basic knowledge, you can handle the most common equipment failures yourself on everything from ranges to fryers to overhead warmers to faucets.  We’ve written several great guides to help you fix your restaurant equipment yourself.

Check out these posts, and if you have any questions about fixing equipment, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you with and answer!

1.  How To Fix Countertop Warmers

2.  How To Replace Door Gaskets on Refrigeration Equipment

3.  Identifying and Replacing Electric Thermostats

4.  Identifying Commercial Faucets and Parts

5.  Replacing Gas Safety Valves

6.  Converting Gas Equipment In 5 Simple Steps

7.  Can You Trust Generic Restaurant Equipment Parts?

8.  Fixing Commercial Fryers

9.  Fixing Commercial Ovens

10.  Fixing Gas Ranges

Being able to handle minor equipment repairs will not only save you money, it will also reduce your downtime, meaning your busy kitchen won’t miss a beat.  Half the battle is having the skills to replace parts.  The other half is being able to get parts fast.  Go here for a complete inventory of restaurant equipment parts.

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Replacing Refrigeration Door Gaskets

The rubber door gasket on the inside edge of the doors of all your refrigeration equipment is very important. It prevents cold air from escaping, which means the unit will stay colder longer and use less energy.  Old refrigeration door gaskets wear out and lose their seal. Even worse, older gaskets can pose a food safety risk because they begin to collect grime and food bits and become a breeding ground for bacteria.

Luckily, it’s easy to replace door gaskets!  There are several different styles of gaskets. To ensure you get the proper gasket, gather the following information:

1. Dimension of gasket – Measure from outside corner to outside corner for both height and width.

2. Manufacturer – Get the manufacturer’s name and the model and serial number of the piece of equipment (the serial number may not be needed).  Search for refrigeration door gaskets by manufacturer here.

3. Style –  Check to see if the gasket is magnetic or non-magnetic(compression). Almost all newer refrigeration equipment will have a magnetic gasket. A magnetic gasket will be hard and square at the point where it contacts the inside frame of the unit. Magnetic gaskets will also snap shut when you hold the door less than an inch from the frame because the magnet attracts to the metal.

Replacing Refrigeration Door Gaskets

Magnetic door gaskets are the most common

Compression gaskets usually need a door latch to hold them tight in place to get a good seal. These gaskets are soft and compress easily at the point where they contact the inside frame of the unit.

Replacing Refrigeration Door Gaskets

A compression style door gasket

Door gaskets are also categorized by how they attach to the door.  There are 3 ways a door gasket mounts on a door: snap in (or dart), push in, and screw in.

How To Replace Refrigeration Door Gaskets By Style

Snap in (or dart) door gaskets

Replacing Refrigeration Door Gaskets

Note the arrow shaped “dart” in the middle. This snaps into a slot on the door.

Removal – Remove the old gasket by grabbing a corner and pulling.  The dart section of the gasket, which fits snugly into a slot in the door frame, will pull out.

Installation – To install the new refrigeration door gasket, soak it in hot water for a few minutes. This will make it more flexible.  Begin by snapping in a top corner first. Then, using a mallet or a block of wood and hammer, tap into place the top of the gasket. Continue by installing the sides from top to bottom, and finally the bottom.

Note: Make sure the hinge side of the gasket does not roll under when you close the door.  If it does, push it into position and you may have to tape the door closed to get the gasket to seat itself. You might also try a hair dryer to heat the gasket as this will help it seat. (Make sure you don’t melt the gasket!)

Replacing Refrigeration Door Gaskets

A push in style door gasket

Push in refrigeration door gaskets

Removal – Remove the old gasket by grabbing a corner and pulling!

Installation – Push in gaskets may require vinyl cement. To install the new gasket brush some vinyl cement into the channel and press the gasket into the channel.

Note: Make sure the hinge side of the gasket does not roll under when you close the door.  If it does, push it into position and you may have to tape the door closed to get the gasket to seat itself.  You may also use a hair dryer to heat the gasket as this will help the gasket seat.  (Make sure you don’t melt the gasket!)

Screw in door gaskets

Removal – Simply remove screws.

Installation – Screw in the new gasket using retainer strips.

A screw in style door gasket. Note the strip for screwing in the gasket.
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Restaurant Hood Filters: A Buying And Maintenance Guide

Restaurant Hood Filters: A Buying And Maintenance GuideMaintaining and replacing the hood filter in your commercial ventilation system is more important than you might think.  The hood filter is a metal square or rectangle that fits into the opening on your hood ventilation system.  Its purpose is to filter out grease from the smoke rising off your cooking equipment.  If this smoke were left unfiltered, it would build up over time in the ventilation system and become a major fire risk.

Therefore maintaining and replacing these filters is an important task.  Some things you should know about commercial hood filters:

Types of Hood Filters

Unless your cooking equipment is burning mesquite or some other sort of solid fuel, your hood ventilation system is using a baffle filter.  Baffle filters are most commonly made out of one of three types of metal:

  • Galvanized – these filters are the least expensive option.  They are rarely used in open kitchens where customers can see them because they have a dull appearance
  • Aluminum – these hood filters have an appealing sheen to them, making them usable in open kitchens, but they are prone to corrosion after repeated cleanings
  • Stainless Steel – these filters are by far the most durable.  They are also appealing to look at and can be used in an open kitchen.  They are less prone to corrosion than aluminum as long as they are not cleaned using bleach or other chemicals

Cleaning Hood Filters

Hood filters should be cleaned every day to keep them free of grease and maximize their filtering capability.  If you have a high temp dishwasher, run your hood filters through the dishwasher.  Make sure you don’t use any bleach when you clean hood filters as this will cause rapid corrosion!

If your dishwasher uses any kind of chemical, do not use it to clean hood filters.  Instead, clean the grease out of your hood filters with hot soapy water and dry them immediately after.

If grease is allowed to build up in hood filters, the risk of fire in your kitchen becomes very high.  The more packed with grease filters become, the less they filter from the smoke passing through your ventilation system.  That means the unfiltered grease ends up in the ducting, and if enough builds up, it could catch fire, potentially causing thousands of dollars worth of damage.

When To Replace Your Hood Filter

Conduct regular visual inspections of your restaurant’s hood filters.  If corrosion, dents, or wear has created holes or disfiguration in the baffles, then it’s time to replace them.  It’s important to replace worn hood filters as quickly as possible.  Otherwise, grease will build up in the ducting of your ventilation system, and this can pose a very serious fire risk.

Sizing And Replacing Your Hood Filter

Properly sizing your hood filter is the most important thing you’ll do before ordering a new one.  Hood filters are typically sized ½ inch smaller in vertical and horizontal dimensions than the nominal sizes listed for your hood ventilation system.  In other words, if the hood opening is 20” x 20”, the correct sized hood filter for that system is 19 ½ “ tall by 19 ½ “ wide.

To determine the vertical height of the filter, measure parallel to the baffles from edge to edge.  The horizontal width is the distance from edge to edge perpendicular to the direction of the baffles.

To replace your hood filter, lift the old filter out of the slot rail in which it rests and slide it out.  Slide the new filter all the way into the slot opening and then drop the end into the rail.  Make sure you insert the hood filter with the baffles in a vertical position!  This means the lines in the filter are running up and down and not side to side.  Installing hood filters the wrong way means the grease will not drain properly and cause clogging.

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Repairing Commercial Fryers

When your fryer needs to be repaired you probably want to get it up and running again fast.  Fortunately, commercial fryers are generally easy to repair, and parts are also pretty easy to come by.  There are 4 fryer parts that most commonly cause a fryer to fail:

1. Hi-Limit
2. Thermopile
3. Combination Safety Gas Valve
4. Thermostat

How to Determine What the Problem Is

BE SURE TO TURN OFF THE POWER AND/OR GAS FIRST!

If the pilot light will not stay lit, 1 of 3 things have failed:

  1. Hi-Limit. First, check to see if the hi-limit is the culprit by taking one wire off and connecting it with the other wire.  Do as you always do and light the pilot.  If the pilot remains lit, then the high limit is bad and needs to be replaced.  To replace the hi-limit, you first need to empty the oil from the tank.  This needs to be done because the sensing bulb for the hi-limit enters through the side of the tank.  There is a large nut in the side of the tank and a smaller nut inside the large nut, loosen and pull these off.  Now you can remove the defective high limit.  Reverse the procedure to install the new hi-limit.  Always screw the larger nut into the tank first and then the smaller nut.  Light the pilot and your unit should be working.Repairing Commercial Fryers
  2. Thermopile. If the pilot still will not stay lit, then the thermopile is most likely the culprit.  One end is attached to the pilot and the other is attached to the gas valve.  Remove the thermopile from both places and replace.  Light the pilot, and if it remains lit you are good to go.  Also, remember to reconnect the hi-limit wire.Repairing Commercial Fryers
  3. Combination Safety Gas Valve. If the pilot still will not stay lit, then the only thing left is the combination safety gas valve.  To replace the combo valve, you will need to have a couple of pipe wrenches.  This is the most difficult part to change, due to the limited space.  Remember to install the new gas valve in the same direction and replace all the connections.Repairing Commercial Fryers

If the pilot is lit, but the fryer still does not work, the thermostat may be faulty.  Only 3 things can happen:

  1. Either the burner will not light when turned on even though the pilot is lit.
  2. The oil will not get hot enough.
  3. When the oil reaches temperature it will not shut off.

Thermostat. In either case the thermostat will need to be replaced.  If it is running wild (will not shut off) the oil will overheat causing the hi-limit to trip out and shut everything off.  By resetting the hi-limit and relighting the pilot and it stays lit, then you will know that the thermostat is not good.  To replace the thermostat follow the same instructions for replacing the hi-limit.Repairing Commercial Fryers

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Converting Gas Restaurant Equipment In 5 Simple Steps

Converting any piece of gas equipment from natural gas to propane or from propane to natural gas is fairly simple and can be accomplished in 5 easy steps.

Parts needed to convert the equipment:

  • Burner Orifices
  • Pilot Orifice
  • Regulator
  • Combination Safety Valve conversion kit
  • Nomenclature (tag on unit that has model and serial number on it).

ALWAYS REMEMBER TO TURN OFF ALL GAS TO THE UNIT!!

Converting Gas Restaurant Equipment In 5 Simple Steps

1.  Replacing burner orifices. First, the most important thing you need to know is the brand name, model and serial numbers of your unit.  Next thing you will need to know is what altitude the unit you are converting is at.  This will determine what orifice size you will need.  You will also need to know the number of top burners as well as any other burners such as oven burners and the number of oven pilots (if you are converting a range).  The conversion can be done one of two ways: either by using the manufacturer’s conversion kit or with individual parts.  The conversion kits can be more expensive than using individual parts.

The conversion can take some time because whatever piece of equipment you are converting has to be dismantled and then reassembled.  Begin by removing all the burners and then remove what is needed to be removed in order to access the burner valves.  The burner valves do not need to be removed.  Remove the old orifices and install the new orifices (orifices are screwed to the end of the valve).

2.  Replace pilot orifices. If you are converting an oven, you also need to change the pilot orifice.  The pilot tube is attached to the pilot with a nut.  Unscrew the nut and pull the tube out of the pilot assembly.  When the tube is pulled out, the orifice should fall out; if it does not, tap the pilot assembly.  Replace the pilot orifice and reassemble.  Reassemble the unit the same way you took it apart (you are almost done!)

Converting Gas Restaurant Equipment In 5 Simple Steps

3.  Replace the gas regulator. You must change the gas regulator usually found at the back of the equipment.  Remove the old regulator and install the new regulator, making sure that the gas flow direction is accurate.  The regulator has an arrow on the bottom of it and it must point toward the piece of equipment.

Reconnect the gas hose, turn on the gas and check all connections for leaks.  This can be done with soap bubbles – wipe soapy water onto the connections and look for places where it bubbles up, indicating a leak.  Light all your pilots (it may take a little time to purge out all the air).  Adjust the pilots to the correct flame height by turning the adjustment screw on the pilot valve.  Now turn on one burner at a time (you want a nice blue tip flame).  If there is yellow or orange in the flame you will need to adjust the air shutter on the burner to  correct the flame.   This goes for top burners as well as the oven burners.regulator, making sure that the gas flow direction is accurate.  The regulator has an arrow on the bottom of it and it must point toward the piece of equipment.

Converting Gas Restaurant Equipment In 5 Simple Steps4.  Converting combination safety valves. Some pieces of equipment have combination safety valves, most notably fryers.  There are conversion kits for them (there is no choice on this).  The kit contains a plate and gaskets.  There are instructions with each kit, and it is very simple to change.  Remove the old plate from the top of the safety valve and follow the instructions to install the new plate and gaskets.  The conversion is complete!

You can special order a conversion kit easily by calling 1-888-388-6372.

5.  Replace the unit’s nomenclature. By law, the nomenclature must also be replaced.  This is only available through the manufacturer of the piece of equipment being converted.  Sometimes it takes awhile to get them, so until you get the replacement, you should remove the word “natural” from the tag with a magic marker and write in large letters, “LP”.  When you receive the new tag, simply stick it over the old one.

You have now converted your equipment from natural gas to propane or vice versa.

Congratulations!

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Replacing Refrigeration Door Latches & Hinges

There are many different styles of hinges and latches for refrigeration equipment.Replacing Refrigeration Door Latches & Hinges

Both the hinges and latches have a number on the back.  In addition, they may say “flush” or have the offset size, e.g. 1 1/8, 1 ½, etc.  It is important to have that number on the back to ensure you get the proper replacement.

Let’s talk hinges!

Walk in cooler or freezer hinges are either flush or offset.  The easiest way to determine which style you have is to place your hand on the outside wall of the walk-in and slide it towards the door.  If the door stops your hand from moving across the door then you have an offset door.  If your hand slides across the door it is flush.

Determine the offset measure by measuring from the wall surface to the door surface.  The offset measure combined with the number on the back will ensure you receive the correct hinge.

Also, some walk-in hinges are reversible.  If you receive a hinge and it is the reverse of what you need, you can reverse the new hinge.

Replacing Refrigeration Door Latches & HingesLet’s talk latches!

Walk-in latches, like hinges, are for either offset or flush doors.  Use the same procedure as you would for a hinge to determine if it is an offset or flush latch.  Also make sure you find the number on the back of the latch.

Edgemount latches and hinges are most commonly found on reach-in type refrigerators and freezers.  Edgemount means they mount on the edge of the door.  The hinges and latches can mount on either side of the door.

Some hinges are spring assisted and some are self-closing:

  • Self-closing hinges use a cam system to close the door
  • Some of the edgemount hinges have spring assist kits available.  As with all latches and hinges, there’s a number on the back for identifying the correct replacement

There are two types of edgemount latches: Magnetic type or those that have a strike that the latch locks into.  These latches also have a number on them.

The best way to get the correct hinge or latch is to get that number off the back!

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Replacing Refrigeration Fan Motors & Blades

Refrigerators are the backbone of your kitchen.  They are usually durable and long-lasting, but when they go down, you have to have them fixed right away.  Some tips on replacing the fan motor in your commercial refrigeration unit:Replacing Refrigeration Fan Motors & Blades

There are two types of motors for refrigeration.

1. Condenser fan motor.
2. Evaporator fan motor.

First, we will discuss the condenser fan motor:

The condenser fan motor is mounted on the condensing unit located outside the refrigeration interior.  The size of the refrigerator unit will determine the motor size.  Motors vary in size, voltage and rotation.  All of this information is found on the motor, and is very important to have when ordering.  Rotation is vital to the operation of the unit.  Rotation will either be clockwise (CW) or counter-clockwise (CCW).

The fan blade is also a critical part of the motor.  The blade is similar to the motor in that it is either CW or CCW.   Normally the rotation of a fan blade is stamped into the blade assembly.  When replacing either the motor or the fan blade be sure to use the same rotation type.

Replacing Refrigeration Fan Motors & Blades

Next, we will discuss the evaporator fan motor:

The evaporator is located inside the refrigeration interior, and will always be located on the ceiling or top of the unit.  There are two types of evaporative motors:

1. Open winding type.
2. Closed type.

On the open winding motor the copper wires are exposed and visible to the eye.  The open winding motors are usually reversible.  This is done by removing the bearing housing and pulling out the armature.  The armature is the part that has the fan blade attached to it.  Simply turn it around and put the shaft through the other direction and reassemble.  Now you have gone from CW to CCW motor or a CCW to a CW.  Each manufacturer will vary in what direction their motors rotate.

The closed winding motor has an encasement around it.  The rotation will be stamped on the back of the motor.  Mounting holes will be either on the side or rear of the motor.  If the motor fails, the motor will need to be replaced and cannot be repaired.

Buy general use fan motors or search by manufacturer here.

As with every piece of equipment the most important thing is the model and serial number on the equipment itself.  Generally, the model and serial numbers are found in the interior of an upright cooler/freezer, prep table or under counter cooler/freezer.  If the condensing unit is attached to one side or the other of the unit, the model and serial numbers may be found inside that area.

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Adventures In Restaurant Maintenance: Refrigeration

In this article I would like to talk about the refrigerators and freezer units commonly found in a commercial kitchen and restaurant. The average unit will give long service with minimal maintenance; however there are a few things you should know that could possibly prevent breakdowns. You should also read Greg’s article on this subject he posted some time back.

The way it works: Any common unit used to cool (refrigerator or freezer) that operates with a refrigerant (freon) works in essentially the same way. I will give you a rough outline so you will get the basic idea.

Every commercial refrigerator or freezer is made up of 3 main parts you can identify:

Adventures In Restaurant Maintenance: Refrigeration
1. The compressor: the compressor is really nothing but an electric motor that is sealed (welded) in a metal case. The case will be located on the outside of the unit (not in the compartment to be cooled). Compressors are made by several companies and in various styles but most compressors are made by Copeland. You cannot mistake the compressor for anything else because nothing else on your cooling unit will look like the compressor. Think of the compressor as the HEART of your cooling unit. There is no maintenance that can be done on a welded compressor. It is full of oil but typically the oil is designed to last the life of the compressor.

When a welded compressor goes out all you can do is replace it. A compressor is expensive but it is often cheaper to replace the compressor than to replace the entire unit. I have also replaced compressors because the particular equipment was built into “the line” and it has to repaired rather than replaced.
Adventures In Restaurant Maintenance: Refrigeration
2. The condenser coil: The condenser coil is square, usually black in color, and will have a fan placed behind it that forces air through it. Most of these coils are around 12 inches by 12 inches. The condenser coil will be located very near the compressor (usually directly in front of it). The fan that forces air through the coil is almost always located between the coil and the compressor. This fan not only removes heat from this coil but has the added benefit of cooling the compressor. You must keep the area where this coil and fan are located FREE FROM ANYTHING that blocks air flow (i.e. don’t stack boxes on top of or in front of the area where the compressor and coil are located). The condenser coil will require cleaning on a regular basis (every 3 months). The coil will pick up whatever is floating in the air in your kitchen and deposit it on the coil.

If you allow the coil to clog up, it will cause your cooling unit not to perform at it’s optimum. In fact if this coil is left completely clogged for any extended period of time it will shorten the life of your compressor or completely burn it up. Think of this coil as one of the LUNGS of your cooling unit. Without air, the HEART (the compressor) will stop.Adventures In Restaurant Maintenance: Refrigeration

3. The evaporator coil: the evaporator coil is also called the “cold coil”. This coil is located inside the compartment to be refrigerated.  In most cases you will not be able to see this coil without removing a cover. This coil’s purpose is to distribute cold air into the unit. Like the condenser coil, there is a fan near the evaporator coil used to force air through it. The evaporator coil can be many different sizes and is usually a lot thicker than the condenser coil. It is often a silver color (aluminum) and can have several fans blowing air through it. Think of this coil as the other LUNG of your refrigeration unit.

The evaporator coil gets extremely cold when the unit is running. Air on the inside of the refrigeration unit is re-circulated through this coil over and over again and getting colder with each pass. This air is what makes your unit cold. It takes the heat from any object you place in the cooling unit and transfers it to the evaporator coil. The heat is then absorbed by the refrigerant (freon) passing through this coil and delivered to the rest of the system (compressor and condenser coil) to remove it from the unit.

These three main components work in unison to cool your refrigerator or freezer. Your freezer will also be equipped with a defrost heater that melts the frost off the evaporator coil several times a day to keep it from freezing up.

What you as a owner/manager can do:

You can extend the life and efficiency of your refrigerators and freezers by keeping the condenser (outside) coil clean. You can also insure the door gaskets are in good shape and are sealing all the way around. Also train your employees not to leave the door open any longer than necessary.
The refrigerators and freezers are some of the most maintenance free equipment in your kitchen. If you buy a quality unit and see that the minor maintenance described above is done then these units should give you many years of trouble free service.

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