Common Commercial Refrigerator Repair Issues and Troubleshooting

Commercial refrigerators are often larger, run at a cooler temperature, and may have many more sections than a standard home refrigerator. Because of cooling a larger space and running at a lower temperature, commercial units may suffer more wear and tear and may break down more often than the refrigerator you have at home.

Even the top-notch and most durable refrigeration brands may need repair, and so when you face refrigeration maintenance issues, you need to know how to fix the issues fast and efficiently, with the help of a seasoned commercial refrigeration repair service. You may also fix the problem yourself if it’s very minor. Here are the most common commercial refrigeration problems you may find, and a few tips on how to determine what’s wrong with your unit.

Power Issues

Is your commercial refrigerator or refrigeration equipment not powering up? Is your bottle fridge not cooling?  In the commercial restaurant business, fixing these issues in a timely manner is paramount.  While you may not need an appliance repair company to perform business or residential service on your unit. First, make sure your unit doesn’t have a power switch that has been switched off. You should check to see if the power cord has been properly plugged in all the way to the outlet, as it may have been knocked out of place. If that still isn’t the option, then check if the wiring for the outlet and ground wires are active. The issue may be the power supply and not the unit. Use a voltage detector to make sure the outlet has voltage present.

Remember: Most manufacturers warn users to never use extension cords for their commercial fridges, as a use of the cords will void the warranty!

Evaporator Fan

Is your fridge freezing up, and is ice collecting throughout the unit? You need to make sure that your evaporator fan is running correctly. You’ll need to first let the ice melt off the evaporator, if ice is present, by turning off your unit. The coils of the evaporator should be clean and you can locate cleaning tips in your model’s manual. Make sure that the drain lines are clear as well. You may notice that only a part of the evaporator coil is freezing up, which could indicate you have a low charge, so the pressures and sub-cooling may need to be checked either by you or a certified technician.

Lighting Issues

Sometimes you may have a minor problem, such as the lights aren’t working in your unit. If that’s the case, you need to take a look at the lights themselves. True and other brands use LED lights, but if you need to replace a bulb, make sure it’s verified and approved by your equipment’s manufacturer, or else you run the risk of burning out the electrical sockets for the lights. Always read the manual that accompanies your appliance to make sure you’re using the proper recommended repair option.

Frost buildup inside the unit

Your commercial refrigerator should have a defrost cycle set, which helps to remove any frost buildup and excess condensation inside the unit. If this cycle is not adjusted properly, frost can build up. You can find the defrost cycle inside the unit; it's set with a timer that may look like a temperature control. Adjust the defrost cycle so that the unit defrosts more often and this may address the problem. If this doesn't do the trick, call a technician to see if this control needs to be rewired or repaired.

Ice in the drain pan

A commercial refrigeration unit will have a drain pan that may need emptying; if you notice ice in this pan, this often means that the drain line is somewhat clogged and in turn, the water that should be draining gets cool and icy before it drains completely. Ignoring this problem can mean that the drain line becomes clogged completely, and cause the unit to overheat or the water to back up into the unit. Check the line for obstructions, kinks, or other repairs that need to be done.

Temperature Problems with Your Refrigerator

Are you experiencing problems with your refrigeration temperature? Is your bottle fridge not cooling? Having your refrigerator keep food cold enough is a necessary process of the commercial appliance, and thus, you’ll need to address this problem quickly.

First, examine your appliance. Is it placed directly up against the wall? Your commercial refrigerator needs to be placed slightly away from the wall to give it room to circulate air properly. Commercial refrigerators are made to withstand countless opening and closing operations, but sometimes the gask can get worn down from wear and tear. Your door should close properly and seal completely so the unit can perform proper cooling processes.

You may also have a problem where the temperature control gauge is offering an incorrect reading or is broken altogether. If this is the case, manufacturers like True have made the temperature gauge easy to replace. Your incorrect temperature read could also be because of a blocked vent. Double check your temperature by using a thermometer to make sure to make sure the thermostat is indeed working


The refrigerator compressor is used to keep your food cool, and if it’s not working, your unit won’t cool properly. True and other companies outline in their respective manuals how often you need to clean the compressor, but it’s typically every 90 days. Dirt, hair, grease and more may build up in the compressor and keep it from functioning. Verify that the compressor has been cleaned recently, and is working as it should. A compressor that is running hot will certainly cause a refrigerator from getting cold.

Pointers for Preventing Problems

You can prevent many minor problems that occur in commercial refrigeration equipment. By checking every part of your refrigeration equipment for consistent functioning, you can prevent many malfunctions that could cost you a lot of time and money. Here are some additional tips: 

  • Perform routine maintenance. Schedule times for a qualified commercial refrigeration technician to inspect your equipment. The more you use your refrigeration equipment, the more frequently you should have someone inspect it. 
  • Clean equipment regularly. Cleaning your refrigeration equipment helps it run more efficiently. It also reduces wear and tear. When cleaning, you may see problems with your freezer and cooler you could otherwise miss. 
  • Replace worn parts promptly. If you find a worn or outdated part while cleaning or during maintenance checks, it is best to replace it right away. You may forget and then have a complete refrigeration break down at the most inconvenient time. 

Quick Solutions for Simple Problems

Try these easy solutions for simple commercial refrigeration problems: 

  • Clean equipment regularly. Thoroughly cleaning your refrigeration equipment's parts can help prevent lots of malfunctions, particularly with fans and coils. Using a dry dusting cloth to wipe down equipment that uses static to attract particles of dust and dirt can keep coils dry and clean. 
  • Check fan blades. You should clean any fan blades from time to time. To do this, remove any protective covers and wipe each fan blade clean. This will allow it to work properly and keep neighboring parts of the equipment from overheating. 
  • Look for malfunctions. Check refrigeration equipment regularly for malfunctions. Thermostats and other parts must be checked and maintained on a routine basis so that larger problems can be prevented before they disrupt your entire business day.

Image result for consistency is the key

Consistency is the Key

Scheduling regular checks by a service technician can also prevent any malfunctions. They will be able to spot problem areas a lot more quickly, which will ultimately save you cost and inconvenience. Planning regular equipment checks monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly can be a great way to keep a schedule and record issues as they arise. 

There are ways to streamline the maintenance of your commercial refrigeration equipment to make it more effective. Whether you need to have someone repair your cooler or freezer, there are solutions to prevent multiple malfunctions from catching you by surprise. 

Avoiding Commercial Refrigerator Breakdowns

Whether you own a brewery, a supermarket, a cafe, or a restaurant, you depend on commercial refrigerators and don’t want to deal with breakdowns. Commercial refrigeration installation for your business is a major investment, and running it on a daily basis can be costly. We need to make sure to keep it well maintained.Unfortunately, some businesses think they can give maintenance the flick - until something goes wrong. 

If your refrigerators breakdown, you lose food or drinks and then lose business and money. Our top priority is keeping you in business and keeping your business running smoothly, so today we’re sharing tips on what you can do to avoid an unexpected refrigerator breakdown!

If you have a refrigeration system, it’s highly likely that it plays a major role in your business – for example, your business is a restaurant or shop. Consequently, if that system fails, the effect on your business could be catastrophic. At the very least you will experience major inconvenience, and at worst, you could lose expensive stock.

Click below to view blog on how to avoid commercial refrigeration breakdowns.


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