Malfunction or shut down of a commercial refrigeration system can be seriously damaging to any business. It is important to know what could go wrong with your unit and who to contact in case it does need repair. Of course, routine maintenance is a great way to avoid many of these issues.
Troubleshooting Common Commercial Refrigerator Repair Issues
Commercial refrigerators such as the True T-49-HC reach-in, just like any other commercial appliance, can malfunction and may need repairs & maintenance. As the old saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" and preventative maintenance is the key to maintaining the longevity of your commercial refrigeration equipment.
Even the top-notch and most durable refrigeration brands such as Beverage-Air, Centerline by Traulsen, True Refrigeration, and Turbo Air may need to be repaired over time, and so when you face refrigeration maintenance issues, you need to know how to fix the issues fast and efficiently, with the help of a seasoned commercial hvac refrigeration repair service company. You may also fix the problem yourself if it’s very minor. Here are the most common commercial refrigeration problems you may find, and a few tips on how to determine what’s wrong with your unit.
Is your commercial refrigerator or refrigeration equipment not powering up? Is your bottle fridge not cooling? In the commercial restaurant business, fixing these issues in a timely manner is paramount. While you may not need a commercial hvac appliance repair company to perform business or residential service on your unit. First, make sure your unit doesn’t have a power switch that has been switched off. You should check to see if the power cord has been properly plugged in all the way to the outlet, as it may have been knocked out of place. If that still isn’t the option, then check if the wiring for the outlet and ground wires are active. The issue may be the power supply and not the unit. Use a voltage detector to make sure the outlet has voltage present.
Remember: Most manufacturers warn users to never use extension cords for their commercial fridges, as use of those cords will void the warranty.
Temperature Problems with Your Refrigerator
Are you experiencing problems with your refrigeration temperature? Is your bottle fridge not cooling? Having your refrigerator keep food cold enough is a necessary process of the commercial appliance, and thus, you’ll need to address this problem quickly.
First, examine your appliance. Is it placed directly against the wall? Your commercial refrigerator needs to be placed slightly away from the wall to give it room to circulate air properly. Commercial refrigerators are made to withstand countless opening and closing operations, but sometimes the gasket can get worn down from wear and tear. Your door should close properly and seal completely so the unit can perform proper cooling processes.
You may also have a problem where the temperature control gauge is offering an incorrect reading or is broken altogether. If this is the case, manufacturers like True have made the temperature gauge easy to replace. Your incorrect temperature read could also be because of a blocked vent. Double-check your temperature by using a thermometer to make sure the thermostat is indeed working.
The refrigerator compressor is used to keep your food cool, and if it’s not working, your unit won’t cool properly. True and other commercial refrigeration companies outline in their respective manuals how often you need to clean the compressor, but it’s typically every 90 days. Dirt, hair, grease, and more may build up in the compressor and keep it from functioning. Verify that the compressor has been cleaned recently, and is working as it should. A compressor that is running hot will certainly cause a refrigerator from getting cold.
Is your commercial fridge freezing up, and is ice collecting throughout the unit? You need to make sure that your evaporator fan is running correctly. You’ll need to first let the ice melt off the evaporator, if ice is present, by turning off your unit. The coils of the evaporator should be clean and you can locate cleaning tips in your model’s manual. Make sure that the drain lines are clear as well. You may notice that only a part of the evaporator coil is freezing up, which could indicate you have a low charge, so the pressures and sub-cooling may need to be checked either by you or a certified technician.
Sometimes you may have a minor problem, such as the lights aren’t working in your unit. If that’s the case, you need to take a look at the lights themselves. True and other brands use LED lights, but if you need to replace a bulb, make sure it’s verified and approved by your equipment's manufacturer, or else you run the risk of burning out the electrical sockets for the lights. Always read the manual that accompanies your appliance to make sure you’re using the proper recommended repair options.
If you have done your due diligence in troubleshooting how to repair your commercial refrigeration equipment so you don't have to use a commercial repair service company (check out this refrigerator troubleshooting flowchart from our friends at fixitnow.com) and still can’t pinpoint the exact problem, then you can always search online at sites like fixya.com, familyhandyman.com or applianceassistant.com for solutions or consult social media for additional information:
If you still have no luck pinpointing your issue, you will need to consult a trusted commercial refrigeration repair service. Some brands make it easy to find a service locator by including a listing of repair services on their website. If you are having trouble locating a repair technician, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-550-0706 for assistance. Remember, if your refrigerator is still under manufacturer or parts and labor warranty, you’ll need to check the warranty details to make sure any repair you or a third party may perform won’t void your warranty.
You may also look into a maintenance plan offered by a certified repair service to make sure your appliance runs smoothly 24 hours out of your day and doesn’t have a malfunction at a time when you’ll be inconvenienced. Regular maintenance on your commercial refrigerator will help minimize larger repair issues in the future.
When All Else Fails - Don't fix it... FINANCE IT!
Sometimes an older refrigerator or commercial appliance may be "too far gone" to repair. Why spend money, time and again, to repair an older appliance? Repair bills can add up quickly and so purchasing a new appliance can be hard on your cash flow, which is why we strive to help you get the most bang for your buck. Why fix it - when you can finance it?!
Did you know that buying NEW may actually save you money? Not only do most new appliances come with a warranty, but they usually run more efficiently with some Energy Star qualified appliances using 40% LESS electricity - those savings alone will add up on your utility bills. In addition, by utilizing rebate programs like those provided by Energy Star you may qualify for tax credits up to 30% as well as additional local/state rebates! Contact us today to speak with a live agent and see what separates us from our competition. Let one of our Customer Service Experts customize a solution for your unique situation.
Very few people has an eye of identifying minor issue for your commercial refrigerator. Instead of solving the problem you can damage it more. When your hire a service team to repair your refrigerator make sure to ask what caused to the problem what is you can do to avoid it. Maintenance cost is part of your expenses, this post is very helpful to save you a lots of money for the repair.
Wow, I didn't know you actually had to have the refrigerator away from the wall for circulation, I thought it came from the bottom of the fridge. I would imagine that there are a lot of small common mistakes like that that would help your fridge run longer. I will be sure to share these tips on how to do some easy fixes for fridges with my family.
I had no idea that you would need to check to make sure that the brand of the LED light is approved by the manufacturer. I would have just purchased the first LED light that I saw at the store instead of researching my options. I bet that this is the case for the refrigeration filters; those can really affect the efficiency of the system!
Making sure your refrigerator is on a dedicated circuit is a frequently overlooked factor when troubleshooting. I learned this from troubleshooting vending machines, which have compressors and are essentially refrigerators that dispense food. They draw (typically) 8 amps on circuits that have capacity for 15 so if you're sharing it with other devices it could be a lack of power issue.
It is good to know that your refrigerator needs to be placed slightly away from the wall. I did not realize that this would give it room to circulate air properly. I have also heard that it is best not to place anything on the coils which would prevent airflow.
Thanks for giving the steps. This is really helpful. I will save a lot if I can the repair myself.
On the residential side of business we find power issues to be one of the top problems when being called out and in most cases it may not be your unit it could easily be an outlet that is not working properly. It's always best to call in an expert just to make sure.
Really a great post. Very few people bother to look for the issue themselves because they don't know how to start. Thanks for sharing such a useful post.
Can anyone tell me what possibly would cause the temperature to fluctuate from 29 degrees to 50 degrees no matter what setting its on? I lost a full fridge of produce.
My sister has always wanted to own her own restaurant, and I wanted to learn more about what kind of maintenance the commercial appliances would require. It is good to know that the compressor on a commercial fridge is used to keep your food cool. Thanks for informing me that it is recommended to clean the compressor every ninety days. I will share this article with my sister.
My favorite restaurant in town has continually had problems with their cooler and because of this some of my favorite foods won't be available that day and while that's very frustrating to deal with, it worries me about the food that I am getting. I liked that you had mentioned that if your cooler is having problems maintaining its temperature that it can be important to exam all of the exterior resources to see if anything is causing it the air to not circulate very well. The owners of that company should look into this, if not they should at least look into buying a new one online.
Nice and informative article. Thanks for sharing the information with us. Learned a lot of things.
I never took into account the fact that there might be dirt, hair, or grease in my refrigerator's compressor and that could be the reason my refrigerator is running warm. I used to think that the refrigerator never needed maintenance beyond cleaning the interior. Thank you for the tips on how to keep my refrigerator running well and the compressor clean.
We're glad you found this info useful, Khorae! Just FYI - <a href="https://www.gofoodservice.com/brand/turbo-air">Turbo Air offers commercial refrigerators with self-cleaning condensers.</a> There are also numerous types of condenser covers available online to make this task as painless as possible. Thanks for stopping by!
I didn't know that the refrigerator compressor was what was used to keep food cool. My food hasn't been staying as cold recently. It may be time to look into getting some new parts and fixing the whole thing.
I agree, if there are temperature problems with your refrigerator than you want to be able to find a repairman right away. This is especially important if you're refrigerator is being used for commercial purposes like storing restaurant meat. After all, at that point you would want to make sure that the refrigerator is repaired as soon as possible.
I really appreciate you helping me learn more about commercial refrigerator troubleshooting steps. I like how you mentioned the lighting issues which is the only thing I could check on my end. However, as to the rest, I think I need to ask for a professional assistance already to ensure that everything will function properly.
My brother was telling em the other day about his interest in learning more about commercial refrigeration. This is a wonderful way to make sure that if he were to invest that it would be well maintained. I will let him know that lighting issues are always a tricky issue.
One of the best blog post from you and valid information that will give a lot of guidelines to be.
I really appreciate your knowing for how often you should clean the compressors. In the future, I would love to have a refrigerator, and I want to be sure that I keep it in the best condition possible. If I do get a refrigerator, I will be sure to clean the compressors quarterly as recommended.
We have t-19 true refrigerator and have a drip into top and icing up at very top our temp is ok but there's a tube at the top full to top with water ... maybe something blocked at back? Help
It is helpful to know that you can get things fixed up simply by hiring the right service. If you need an appliance repair having someone that may know about lighting issues or evaporator issues is useful. This may be useful for my cousin who is looking for an appliance repair.
I seriously love your point about examining the appliance before calling someone to repair it. That way, you can make sure that there is nothing blocking any airflow or other issues. Also, you might be able to find what's wrong with it so you can give a better report to the repair company.
I've got an older commercial "Beverage-Air" coke fridge, it is the small one door model (unsure which exact model # it is) and it has a fluorescent light inside. I got it off a former neighbor when he was moving about 12-13 years ago, but never use it till now, my neighbor had used it in a sammich shop/deli he once had for maybe two years til that business venture went under. It cools foods and drinks just fine, but the compressor rarely ever kicks down and never completely turns off. The evap fan never seems to turn off at all and the light never goes off. There is NO temp setting knob/button/switch anywhere inside or on the outside of the unit. So i'm assuming it's an auto temp unit and maybe has a bad temp sensor or something? There is also NO switch for the light. I don't see any ice on the coils, so I don't think it's a Freon/Refrigerant issue, although I could be wrong. Coils look clean. Is my unit supposed to run 24/7? I really can't afford to call in a technician to come look at it and am only using it for a few days, because my regular GE fridge died (evap fan motor went) and am waiting for the new part to arrive. Any help would be very appreciated. Thanks in advance!
Hey DJ, We'd be happy to get you pointed in the right direction. We’re not certified Beverage Air technicians, but we’d like to let you know what we think, from our experience: Compressors should run in cycles, however sometimes, depending on the age of the unit, these cycles may seem longer and longer in order to keep the inside cabinet cool. The cooler should’ve been factory set; typically, when there are controls for the cabinet, they are to adjust the compressor cycle instead of the temperature. Often times we’ll see a customer receive a unit, want it to be on the cooler side, so they’ll dial the control, but they’re just causing their compressor to run overtime. The older models generally utilize a capillary tube to sense the cooling, which is basically a metal line that runs from the compressor controller (temp control) to the cabinet. The evaporator, typically located in the top of the unit, will run about the same. Probably more constantly with age. Both your compressor and evaporator may just be behaving out of their age, so you’ll want to look for other symptoms such as the cabinet not cooling. Regarding the light in your unit, you may need to provide your model number for us to better answer. I say this because while some units are just reach-in’s, with little to no additional lighting, other’s may be merchandisers, such as those you’d see at a Wal-Mart checkout lane, or beer cave. Chances are, if your cooler has a glass door that remains lit up, it’s designed as a merchandiser. Unfortunately, they don’t have a light switch by design, so you would need to disconnect the light ballast/cable in order to shut them off – which I know is pretty inconvenient. We may be able to better help you if you’re able to provide a model number for your unit. Does anyone in the community have any other/better suggestions? We’d like to hear from you!
It was informative when you said that grease, hair, and the like can get stuck in the compressor and cause it to stop working, so it is best to have to checked regularly. We just inspected the compressor a few days ago, and it is clean, as usual. It just suddenly stopped without warning, so I think we have no choice but to call a professional. It must really be broken.
I have a True T49 that quit cooling, and I found refrigerant oil between the lines and the foam insulation that covers the lines right before the lines go into the back of the unit. I actually do not need a 49 cu ft freezer. How much is this worth in its broken state? I'm assuming some new lines, and freon will get this back in working order. Working ones seem to sell for $1,000-2,000 in our market.
I am experiencing a problem I'm NOT sure I've found HOW to rectify. The PROBLEM: the refrigerator makes TOO much NOISE, before stopping, and resuming its NORMAL function.
It is a good reminder that food should be kept at 41 degrees or below. I think this is one reason why businesses in the food service industry need commercial refrigerators. Without refrigeration they can rely on, their food could potentially make a lot of people sick.
Great informational piece on troubleshooting common Commercial Refrigerator Repair Issues. Is it OK to print this out and give to my clients?
We appreciate the compliment and also for asking if you can share this with your clients! You are more than welcome to do so. It makes us very happy to hear we can help out :) Thanks!
Nice Blog! Thank you so much for sharing this kind of wonderful things.
I am thankful for the author who has shared this post. This helps me to solve the problems related to refrigerants.
Is this post still active to ask questions pertaining to a TRUE T49 commercial freezer?
This information is so good. It helps me to solve my problem with my freezer. Thank you so much
I have a 1993 3 door commercial refrigerator by Randall and it's been working great up until this past year I noticed it was not cooling properly so I changed the thermostat and it's still it keeps running and I looked the coil will not the coils but the one copper pipe is icing up and I don't know what to do it's a brand new thermostat that was put in I don't think that's staying open but what would make the icing up on the copper pipes in the unit by the coils help please
Nice write up. One thing we always stress to clients is airflow, airflow, airflow for these commercial units. Far too often, due to space-constraints, we see these units just jammed into tight spaces or the unit on the roof just gets clogged with random leaves and dirt.