Commercial Refrigeration start-up after COVID-19 lockdown
This provides information for commercial refrigeration owners, users and operators. For systems that will be started up after being switched off for many weeks.
Commercial refrigeration systems are electromechanical devices with a refrigerant fluid charge inside the pipework. They have many moving parts and electrical circuits. Pressurised refrigerant is charged within the pipework and needs to be correct for efficient operation.
If maintained correctly these systems are more reliable when in operation than when idle. Commercial refrigeration systems can develop issues from being idle, so care needs to be taken when re-starting. Below is some general advice on re-starting systems that have been idle.
Where possible start commercial refrigeration systems 24 hours before you load with product.
Integral systems are smaller basic refrigeration systems where all the machinery is encased together in a cabinet or box. Examples are chilled drinks merchandisers, delicatessen cabinets, refrigerated counters, small cool room and small ice-making machines.
When starting up integral systems after an idle period make the following observations:
- Make a note of the temperature in the refrigerated space and the time of switching on.
- Listen for unusual noises inside and outside the refrigerated space.
- Can you detect any signs of overheating or burning, by smell for example?
- Check and record the temperature every 15 minutes until the machine reaches set-point.
Remote systems are generally larger commercial refrigeration equipment. Called remote because the condensing unit is in a well-ventilated plant room, on the roof of the building, or on the roof of the cool room. These systems have a higher level of sophistication but the observations for integral systems still apply.
In addition, consider the points below:
If the system was switched off at the main switch it may need to be switched on for 24 hours before re-starting the refrigeration process. This because larger systems have a crankcase heater on or in the compressor that warms the lubricant. If the system is started with cold lubricant permanent damage can result.
Larger freezer rooms can have heated floors that need to be switched on 24 hours before any temperature reduction.
Large cool and freezer rooms with concrete floors require a slow-temperature reduction regimen. Rapid temperature reduction can cause damage to the floor.
Loading of product into commercial refrigerators and freezers needs to be carried out as quickly as possible. Run the system down to temperature and monitor operation for 24 hours before loading. Do not hold the door(s) open for extended periods. Switch the system off while loading if the door(s) need to be open for more than a minute or two.
Hygiene is an important consideration when re-starting commercial refrigeration that has been idle for a few weeks. If the door was left closed after shutting down the refrigeration, mould may have started to grow on the internal surfaces.
Any mould or spilt food products not adequately cleaned after shut-down will need to be removed and cleaned before start-up.
Take care while cleaning in the vicinity of the refrigeration equipment, water and electricity do not mix. If the refrigeration equipment inside the refrigerated space needs cleaning this is a specialist job.
We are working from home and providing service to our friends and customers during this time so if you have any questions call Thermo Tech 0800-177777 and we will be happy to help.