Repair or Replace? How to Decide When It’s Time for a New Commercial Refrigeration System

An efficiently working refrigeration system is essential for any supermarket, grocery store, restaurant or food production business. Not only are quality fridges and freezers essential for keeping stock cool, they also ensure there is no food safety risk to consumers.

Whether you are running a large supermarket or a small ice cream shop, your refrigeration system is a crucial asset that should be regularly maintained and serviced to ensure maximum efficiency and longevity.

It is inevitable that even the highest quality refrigeration systems will deteriorate over the years and there will come a time when replacement will become a wiser option than ongoing maintenance and repair. Knowing when to take the plunge on a new refrigeration system is not always easy, but it is a decision that can save your business significant expense if made wisely.

Let’s take a closer look at how to determine whether you need to repair or replace your refrigeration equipment.

How Long Should My Refrigeration System Last?

It is important to have reasonable expectations when it comes to the longevity of your fridges and freezers. For a fridge or freezer that has been regularly serviced and maintained, about 10 years is a good rule of thumb. Some higher quality models may be expected to last up to 15 years while equipment that has not been properly maintained could start running poorly and causing problems after just seven or so years. If your fridges and freezers are more than 10 years old and showing signs of age or significant malfunction, it may be time to consider upgrading.

Commercial Refrigeration Systems: Common Problems

There are a number of issues that can arise with commercial refrigeration systems. While some of these can be easy to diagnose and cheap to repair, for others you may need to seek the help of freezer servicing companies. Here are some of the more common problems you may encounter if your fridges or freezers are approaching their sell-by date.

Trouble Maintaining Temperature – This is one of the most common indications that your fridge or freezer may be on its last legs, but it is worth seeking the advice of a professional before making a final decision on a replacement. In older units this can be caused by a combination of factors such as faulty seals, refrigerant leaks, or problems with your compressor. On the other hand, it could be a simple problem with the thermostat or even user error, so a cheap and easy fix may be possible.

Fridge or Freezer Running at the Max Constantly – This is a sure sign that your refrigeration unit is working too hard to maintain the desired temperature. Not only will this send your electricity costs sky-high, it will place unnecessary wear and tear on the motor, making a sudden and expensive breakdown more likely. The good news is that simple cleaning and maintenance may solve the problem. If this fails to resolve the issue more significant repairs may be required.

Loud Operational Levels – As you might expect, this is generally not a good sign and it is likely that at least one component will need to be replaced. While some operating noise is to be expected due to the various mechanical components in a fridge or freezer, excessive noise or knocking sounds mean it is time to schedule a service. The cost of any repair will depend on the component and components causing the noise.

Build-up of Frost or Ice – While you want your freezer to be icy cold, the build-up of frost or ice is an indication that something is wrong. In many cases this is simply caused by blocked air vents or blocked drains and can be easily remedied by emptying, defrosting and cleaning your freezer. Other potential causes can include bad seals, faulty door hinges or leaking refrigerant, which may need the attention of a professional repair service.

Water Leaks – External water leaks are unsightly and even dangerous in a commercial environment. Thankfully, water leaks are an easy fix in most cases. Blocked drains or faulty water lines are most often at fault, and can be remedied by basic cleaning and maintenance. If the problem persists, you should seek the help of a professional.

If your refrigeration system is experiencing any of these problems you are running the risk of a sudden malfunction, increasing the possibility of spoiled stock and lost inventory. A good commercial refrigeration repair service can advise on the exact cost of repairing your equipment and its expected longevity. In general, if the cost of repairing any refrigeration unit is more than half the cost of a replacement, it is probably time to invest in new equipment.

How Much is Your Refrigeration System Costing You to Run?

The direct cost of repair versus replacement isn’t the only factor you should consider when deciding whether to upgrade your refrigeration equipment. Faulty fridges and freezers are notorious for costly electricity consumption. Not only will new equipment run more efficiently, advances in appliance technology have come on leaps and bounds in recent years, potentially adding significantly to your savings.

Modern refrigeration equipment comes with clear energy ratings and information that should allow you to accurately estimate the cost of running new equipment compared to your existing units. Factoring in these savings, and the savings you will make by having new equipment that will not likely need major repair in the next few years, will help you make an informed decision. Also remember that your new equipment will come with manufacturer’s and parts warranties and may include free maintenance for the first couple of years.