Commercial and industrial refrigeration equipment requires regular monitoring and maintenance to operate at its peak. Knowing what to watch for, and how to identify issues early on, can help you minimize downtime, save money on repairs and protect your inventory.

The following warning signs can clue you in to emerging problems with your commercial or industrial refrigeration equipment. Proactively addressing these issues through quick action will help ensure your refrigeration system continues to operate smoothly.

1. Unusual Noises
Unusual or excessive noises — clanking, grinding, hissing or squealing sounds — could indicate loose or worn-out components, a malfunctioning compressor or refrigerant leaks. Enlist the expertise of certified refrigeration technicians to investigate and resolve the issue.

2. Temperature Fluctuations
Monitor the temperature inside your refrigeration units to ensure they consistently meet the requirements of your inventory. Verify that the control settings are accurate and stable. Frequent temperature fluctuations could indicate faulty controls, damaged seals or inadequate refrigerant levels.

3. Ice Buildup
Excessive frost or ice buildup on the evaporator coils or inside the refrigeration unit may indicate a faulty defrost cycle, inadequate airflow due to dirty evaporator coils, infiltration of outside air, or refrigerant leaks. Schedule regular inspections to monitor these potential trouble spots and be sure your equipment is defrosted as soon as it is needed.

4. Water Leaks or Excessive Condensation
Water pooling or leaking around refrigeration equipment or condensation on the wall, ceilings or floors of a cooler should never be ignored. In addition to indicating an equipment issue, these conditions can cause water damage to your stored product/inventory and assets and be a slip hazard for employees or others with access to the surrounding area. A water leak can result from a clogged drain line, a damaged or improperly installed drain pan, or outside air infiltration. Address these issues as soon as you notice them to prevent damage and accidents.

5. Energy Consumption
Monitor your energy bills and note any sudden spikes in energy consumption. Unexplained increases may indicate equipment malfunctions that are forcing your refrigeration unit to work harder that it should. ARI can support you with energy efficiency assessments that help identify areas for improvement.

6. Unpleasant Odors
Foul or unusual smells emanating from refrigeration units can be a sign of mold or bacterial growth, spoiled food or components that are not functioning properly. Regularly clean and sanitize the interior of your equipment according to manufacturer guidelines. If the odor persists, conduct a thorough inspection of the refrigeration unit.

7. Error Messages or Alarms
Today’s state-of-the-art refrigeration systems are equipped with diagnostic displays and/or alarms. Familiarize yourself with the error codes and alert messages specific to your equipment, and consult the user manual for instructions on resolving any issues that may arise. Should you need additional expertise, ARI is here for you.

Remember: Regular maintenance and professional servicing are essential for the longevity and optimal performance of your commercial or industrial refrigeration equipment. Make sure every member of your in-house team understands what to watch for and how to address equipment issues when they arise. For more complex issues, back them up with the industry-leading expertise of ARI.

If you have refrigeration-related questions or need support with equipment inspections, diagnostics or repairs, please feel free to contact ARI. We are committed to providing you with exceptional service to help ensure the seamless operation of your refrigeration equipment.