However, the two are actually quite different, with commercial units using intricate cooling technology to keep food safe in busy and often extremely hot areas.
Cold storage units, such as blast chillers, freezers and walk in refrigerators are generally used in restaurant kitchens, hospitals, schools and by caterers. Regular use throughout the day means that these units are designed to work hard and stand up to frequent use.
Despite their impressive longevity, cold storage units still require a little TLC from time to time to keep them in tip top condition throughout their lifetime. This guide offers some easy and essential ways to ensure your units are safe and cost effective for years to come.
Placing your cold storage unit
Whether you’re using a mini blast freezer or looking to install a walk in refrigerator, the placement of your unit can great affect its lifespan. Whilst cold storage units are specifically designed to work in unusually hot environments, most cold storage built for use in the UK and Europe will work in temperatures up to 28°C.
In almost all circumstances, this is more than enough protection but to minimise the risk of your unit overheating, it’s advisable to place it away from direct heat sources whenever possible.
Exposure to direct heat cause a units fan and cooling system to work extra hard, making component failure more likely. Not only that but it could bring down the temperature of your unit significantly, contaminating the produce inside.
Cold storage units are tough pieces of equipment but a little common sense can save you money and minimise health risks.
Stocking your unit
Another way to take better care of your cold storage unit is to take the time to stock it correctly. Most units, whatever their use, can be found in a range of different capacities. From mini blast freezers to stand-alone wide span refrigerators, there’s something to suit every type of business.
Honouring a unit’s maximum capacity by not overfilling it is one of the most important things you can do to keep your cold storage in peak, working condition. Whilst storing a few extra meals or pieces of meat might not seem like a big issue, it can great affect the efficiency of your storage.
Commercial chillers and freezers are equipped with high powered fans that help circulate air more efficiently, thus cooling or freezing large quantities of food more rapidly. Filling your unit above capacity will interrupt the fans ability to circulate cool air, bringing down the temperature of your unit and leaving your food open to bacterial contamination.
To combat this, keep your unit stocked below capacity, with foods stored far enough apart that air can circulate freely around the produce. If your storage needs are likely to expand in the future, consider opting for a slightly larger unit than you currently need to minimise the temptation of overstocking.
With so many cold storage solutions available for all size businesses, there really is no excuse for overstocking your unit.
Cleaning cold storage
The regular cleaning of a cold storage unit is vital to both its longevity and its safety. Regular cleaning can seem like hard work but if done often it’s quick, easy and helps keep your unit in great condition.
Regular cleaning of your cold storage should take place once a week, whilst a deep clean can be undertaken each month. Whilst the inside of commercial chillers and freezers are designed to be highly sterile areas, they are not immune to spills, leakages or general dirtying from regular use.
Large spills, especially from meat juices, should be cleaned up immediately to prevent cross contamination. Deep cleans can be used to focus on more intricate areas of your unit, such as areas around the fan and compressor. Using an appropriate tool, it’s a good idea to clean away any dust and dirt in these areas to ensure they continue to work correctly throughout the year.
It’s important that both you and your members of staff implement a good weekly and monthly cleaning routine. It’s not only vital for the health of your unit but for the health of your customers too.
Cold storage maintenance
Finally, to keep your cold storage unit in great condition from day one, you should consider implementing both a short term and long term maintenance routine.
Commercial cold storage is pretty tough but even the toughest unit needs your care and attention from time to time. Many of the basic maintenance jobs you need to do can be carried out by a service engineer but it’s important to check over your unit between these visits, as your cold storage will not wait until an engineer arrives to develop a fault.
Thankfully, many of these jobs can be carried out at the same time as cleaning, so you can give your unit the full once over, all in one go.
Over time, door seals can wear out through continual use. It’s important to check to door seals for any cracks or damage semi-regularly, to ensure that your units’ components do not begin to overwork themselves and in turn, wear out more rapidly. Teaching your employees good cold storage care practices, such as closing unit doors carefully, will also improve the life of the door seal.
Alongside this, you should check the temperature of you cold store unit every day. Whilst most modern units will come with an electronic temperature display, it’s always best to double check, so you can catch any unit faults early and minimise the risk of food contamination. You should also consider keeping a temperature log in case of customer or employee illness.
In summary, you should..
- Carefully consider where you cold storage unit is to be placed to minimise direct heat contact.
- Stock your unit carefully, so that cold air can flow freely throughout.
- Implement a regular cleaning routine for the health of both your unit and customers.
- Undertake your own maintenance checks in between visits from a service engineer.
- Expose your unit to temperatures higher than 28°C.
- Fill your unit above its stated capacity.
- Obstruct your units’ fan.
- Leave spillages or leaks overnight.
- Neglect any potential problems that might impact upon the life of your unit.
Talk to CRS Cold Storage today about our range of high quality cold storage units. From blast freezers to walk in refrigerators, our units are suitable for anyone looking to expand their cold storage capacity.