Understanding and Troubleshooting Cold Food Storage Equipment
This article will give you a basic knowledge of cold food storage and will then cover common problems that are not really equipment malfunctions.
In this context cold food storage refers to refrigeration systems that maintain the temperature. That means the product is put in the unit at or near the storage temperature.
In blast or pull down refrigeration systems, product can be put in the box hot. The refrigeration system is oversized and can quickly cool the product. A blast cooler or blast freezer has a refrigeration system about 16 times as big as a cold food storage system of the same size.
Most walk-in refrigerators are designed to be able to maintain 35 Degree Fahrenheit under design conditions. That means the temperature around the box is no more than 95 Degrees and with no more than two door openings an hour. The product should be at the holding temperature when placed it the box.
The exact temperature is based on what is in the box. For maximum cold food storage life meat is stored at 28 degrees, dairy products at 36 degrees and produce at 40 degrees. Here is an article about the maximum allowable refrigerator temperature. refrigerator temperature
Except in very specialized or large operations compromises must be made. Coolers are commonly kept at 38 degrees. Meat is either kept there short term or put in the freezer.
Most walk-in freezers are rated to maintain a box temperature of -10 degrees. Once again, that is with an ambient temperature of 95 degrees and no more than 2 door openings an hour. The entering product should already be at the holding temperature.
Like with the coolers above, the actual temperature is based on what is in the box. Ice creams keeps best at -15 degrees, frozen food at -10 degrees and frozen juice at -5 degrees. This is an article about the maximum allowable freezer temperature. freezer temperature
In actual practice, freezers are filled with multiple products. The typical storage temperature is 0 degrees to 10 degrees.
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Common Problems That Are Not Really Equipment Failures
Many service calls on cold food storage units are actually only misuse and misunderstanding of the equipment.
The first and most serious problem is a design problem. While most walk-ins are designed for 35 or -10 degrees all are not. The operating conditions may also be too extreme for the unit. The equipment is working properly for improper conditions. It can only do what it is designed to do.
Air flow is critical in cold food storage. The air must be able to reach all sides of the product. Heat is gained through the walls, ceiling and floor. If the air does not freely flow every area, warm spots will result.
Too many door openings can be a problem. It is recommended that all units be sized for heavy door loads. The doors being left open or bad gaskets can cause operating problems and even compressor failures.
Some stored products have special needs, such as flowers or dough. These require a higher humidity for proper storage. Standard refrigeration equipment will not be adequate even when operating properly.
Too much product at too warm of a temperature can lead to the same problems as above. A cold food storage unit can be oversized to allow for some hot product to be added.
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