Commercial Walk-In Cooler & Freezer Refrigeration Problems

When you own a commercial walk-in cooler or freezer, there’s nothing more important than ensuring that your unit is operating at its full potential. It’s responsible for cooling many of the food items that you see in cafeterias, restaurants, and convenience stores. It also ensures that these same food items are kept at a safe temperature for everyone to consume. 

But similar to any other appliance, commercial walk-in coolers and freezers will eventually run into issues over time. Some of the most common issues include failure to maintain pressure and a malfunctioning compressor. In this blog, we will discuss some of the most common problems you might encounter with commercial walk-in coolers and freezers, and the best solution for each of these problems.


The main purpose of evaporator coils located on a walk-in cooler or freezer is to freeze moisture from the air and form an insulating barrier to heat transfer. The evaporator is also equipped with a defrost cycle which melts the ice that has built up on the evaporator coils. The water from the melted ice is then drained from the freezer. 

Many commercial walk-in coolers and freezers experience issues with the evaporator units. If the ice hasn’t melted or the water isn’t properly drained, a block of ice may form over the evaporator. Heat transfer is significantly reduced when the coil freezes – this results in the compressor having to work harder and longer.

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Water has to drain out of the freezer when the ice melts from the evaporator. But when this doesn’t happen, the water can get trapped and freeze – this can cause significant structural damage to a commercial freezer. 

To solve this problem, first, make sure to check the heater’s operation. Then, adjust the defrost control.

If this doesn’t work, call a professional technician like the ones at Antarctic Refrigeration for additional help.

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The condenser coil is responsible for removing heat from the refrigeration system. Condensers that are located in enclosed spaces or spaces with inadequate air flow are likely to experience issues. The temperature around the compressor will increase which results in higher head pressure for the compressor. This also leads to an increase in compressor power. 

The solution for this issue is simple – the condenser coils should be placed in an area with proper ventilation. This area should allow the temperature to be controlled and allow heat to be removed. The condenser should also be regularly maintained and cleaned. A buildup of dust and debris can act like ice that’s built up on the evaporator coil. This works to insulate the heat transfer surface and reduces airflow which results in the compressor working harder and longer.

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Refrigerated Space & Shell

The shell of a commercial cooler or freezer should be regularly inspected for leaks or loose insulation. Leaks and voids in the shell can result in an accumulation of excess moisture which could lead to even greater problems. 

You may experience issues with the doors of your walk-in cooler. The doors must be sealed correctly to eliminate any air from entering the unit. Any air that enters may cause a buildup of moisture in the unit and on the evaporator. When the door heater fails, frost can build up on the door itself. This can result in the door being frozen shut or keep it from closing properly. 

The solution for this problem is simple – avoid overcrowding the space inside your unit. Having too many food items in your commercial unit can create a number of issues. Also, take notice of where the food items have been placed inside your unit. If the items are placed in front of the evaporator fans, it can greatly reduce the airflow and severely impact the performance of the walk-in cooler or freezer. 

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Control Board 

A number of problems can occur with the control board on a commercial cooler or freezer. If the power is on, but the control board is not displaying, it could be due to phase loss or a blown fuse. Check the wiring for breaks and replace the fuse. Another possible cause is the power phase is open or the transformer is shorted. In this case, check the Transformer output voltage (12V). The last possible cause is control board failure. To solve this issue, replace the cold storage room, and control board.

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Maintenance Helps Avoid Energy Waste & Repairs

Performing regular maintenance on your commercial walk-in cooler and freezer is essential to ensuring the longevity of your unit.

In order to avoid excessive energy use and expensive repairs down the road, it’s important to schedule regular cleaning and maintenance whenever possible.

Contact Us

If you’ve tried all the solutions we’ve provided above and are still experiencing the same issue, it’s time to call the professionals at Antarctic Refrigeration. We are proud to have been providing commercial and industrial refrigeration services for over 35 years. Give us a call today to schedule a service call or to learn more about our commercial walk-in cooler and freezer refrigeration services!

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