Frost buildup inside a walk-in cooler can directly affect its performance and, if not fixed soon, it can result in damage to the vital components. So, you need a commercial appliances repair expert to inspect your walk-in cooler and determine why it’s freezing up. Here are some causes of ice buildup in walk-in coolers that will help you fix yours.
Causes Of Your Walk-In Cooler Freezing Up
A common reason for walk-in coolers freezing up is the door is left open for too long. Why is this a problem? One of the things that triggers ice buildup inside a walk-in cooler is warm, humid air. When humid air enters the walk-in cooler, the refrigerator works harder to cool down the interior. In this attempt, the humid air turns to ice.
So, if the door of the walk-in cooler is open even for only 10 minutes, it will cause ice buildup. However, this does depend on the region where your facility is. If the air in your region is humid, icing will occur with only a few minutes of the door left open.
Usually, staff members follow the rules and keep the door closed and when they open it, they do it for a very short interval. However, during stocking the refrigerator, staff members might forget to keep the door closed or have to keep it open to bring many batches of food items inside the refrigerator.
So, instruct your staff to keep the door closed when stocking the food and bring all the food inside the walk-in cooler at once and then place it on shelves after that.
Moreover, to prevent the staff from leaving the refrigerator door open accidentally, install self-closing hinges or a door closer. Additionally, to keep the door from being open for too long in normal operations other than food stocking, instruct the employees to be sure of the items they need to take from the refrigerator or put inside it so they take less time when opening the refrigerator and performing the task.
A walk-in cooler has gaskets in different places to keep two separate parts sealed. For example, the door has a gasket installed all over its ends so that when the door is closed, the gasket ensures that warm air doesn’t go inside or cold air doesn’t escape from the refrigerator.
Over time, these gaskets become loose, worn, or damaged. Due to this, even when the door is closed, the worn gasket doesn’t create a perfect seal. Warm, humid air keeps entering the walk-in cooler. This air turns into ice in any part of the interior and causes problems.
Faulty Door Mechanism
Gaskets wear with time, but sometimes, the door mechanism may be the culprit of ice buildup inside your commercial walk-in cooler. In some cases, the hinges become misaligned with time and allow some space that proves to be an entering point for warm air.
To check if the hinges are the cause of the problem, look for spaces near the top and bottom of the door.
Aging Or Damaged Insulation Panels
The inside walls of a walk-in cooler are covered with insulation panels. They keep the refrigerator cold by acting as a shield between the warm air outside and the cold air inside. These are sturdy panels, but they are not immune to damage and general wear and tear.
As these panels age more than 10 years, they start losing their insulation properties. This means they can’t keep the warm air outside as effectively as they did before. So, warm air keeps entering the walk-in cooler and turning into ice.
Moreover, due to improper maintenance or carelessness, these panels can be damaged during cleaning, stocking food items, or removing items. This also makes them considerably ineffective.
So, whenever, there is an ice buildup issue, have the insulation panels checked as well. Take note that when the insulation panels of your walk-in cooler are worn, your appliance is probably really old and you should consider replacing the appliance.
Issues With The Evaporator Coil
The evaporator coil is the component that makes your walk-in cooler or any refrigerator cold. The most common issue with evaporator coils is the icing up of the coils due to the issues mentioned above. When warm air enters the walk-in cooler, it can also reach the evaporator coils and its fans. And with time, it can freeze the evaporator coil or the fans.
In some cases, dust and debris buildup can lead to ice buildup in the evaporator coils because these coils make warm air cold. When they can’t due to dirty coils, condensation occurs more than usual leading to frozen coils.
Furthermore, the same will happen if the evaporator coils or their fans are faulty. Sometimes, the fans become faulty due to ice buildup that is because of the inflow of warm air inside the walk-in cooler. This warm air becomes ice. If this is formed on the fans, they won’t rotate, causing the evaporator coils to freeze which will lead to ineffective cooling of the walk-in cooler. This can spoil the inventory stored in the refrigerator.
Keep in mind that the evaporator coil fans can malfunction on their own as well and they will cause the same problem.
In some other cases, evaporator coils become frozen due to thermostat issues. It could be that the thermostat is set to a temperature lower than the recommended settings which will lead to icing up of the evaporator coils.
Apart from that, if the thermostat is faulty, it might not sense the temperature correctly and may not signal the compressor to stop functioning at the right time. The walk-in cooler might start freezing everything or in the opposite case, the walk-in cooler might become too warm.
Malfunctioning Auto-Defrost Cycle
The defrost cycle removes ice from evaporator coils. These cycles are timed and occur periodically. When a defrost cycle is triggered, the compressor is turned off. Evaporator coils are installed with a small heater or heating element that begins functioning and removes ice formed on the coils. Keep in mind that a normal amount of ice formation on evaporator coils is fine and for removing it, the auto-defrost feature is installed.
However, if the defrost cycle doesn’t work or the heating element becomes faulty, the evaporator coils will remain iced up and lead to various problems like cooling issues.
Clogged Drain Line
It was mentioned in the last point that evaporator coils are defrosted. This means the ice on the coils becomes water. This water flows outside the refrigerator through the condensate or drain line. It can become clogged due to a lack of maintenance or something else obstructing the line.
Due to this, melted water from the evaporator coils and other parts of the walk-in cooler won’t be drained out. So, it will pool near the drain line. This water can freeze up.
If you see ice near the drain line only, then the drain line is either clogged or obstructed. So, clean the drain line.
Icing up of the interior of a walk-in cooler is not normal. It’s dangerous and can damage the evaporator coils, evaporator fans, and even the compressor. So, if you notice ice buildup in your commercial walk-in cooler, get assistance from a walk in cooler repair Fairfax technician.