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Clean your refrigeration coils or pay a high price for the mistake

March 22, 2017

A recent video on this website explained to restaurateurs that refrigeration coil cleaning is a proactive step toward energy efficiency and saving money.

Video: how to clean your refrigeration coils. Can't see the video? Watch on YouTube here

The above video offers folks a good starting point, but, as experts in the field, we want to tell you there’s even more to the story. Unfortunately, most people don’t know that it’s vitally important to keep the coils of any cooling appliance as clean as possible — or why. But, as one refrigeration expert has often said, 80 percent of operators do nothing, no maintenance, ever. And, maybe 20 percent of them do some cleaning, but not enough.


The Conserve video talked about dirty coils potentially forcing a unit to require double the electric power to run the unit. Let’s be clear: this is no exaggeration. While there’s little published data on the possible energy savings, we did find some reputable third-party information at two conference presentations a couple of years ago. In fact, the data found that dirty coils did increase energy use from 83 percent to 100 percent in four single- and double-door commercial refrigeration/freezer units. Moreover, at an electric rate of $US 0.11/KwH, the owner-operator paid an extra $220 to $625 annually for each noncleaned appliance. The average cost was $432.

And let’s be clear: those additional costs can add up quickly. So when thinking about total dollar savings from energy savings, the owner should consider that those savings would directly impact the bottom line. They could equal anywhere from, maybe, 20 times to 60 times the amount of gross income needed depending on the establishment’s profit margin. 

But energy savings aren’t the only benefit from clean your refrigeration coils. The appliances run much more efficiently, and that drastically cuts down on emergency service calls and loss of valuable inventory because of unit malfunction. It also will extend the life of the equipment.

According to Foster Refrigerator (UK), conventional fridge/freezer condenser coil designs can suffer airflow reduction due to fouling by as much as 100 percent. And that’s after being in service for only one year. Obviously, the coils need to be cleaned long before one year elapses. The Food Service Technology Center goes even further with its recommendations. They say to do coil cleanings at least once a calendar quarter to stay ahead of the fouling process.

Power plant with smoke stacks

As far as the method of cleaning you deploy is concerned, mere surface brushing and vacuuming will likely miss much of the deeply-embedded clogging within the coil structure. We say the most effective and quickest way to clean multiple units is to use a source of compressed air and vacuum to blow out the coil unit, along with one of the new dust containment devices that have been introduced to the market. Then, the coils will get their needed cleaning and undesired collateral pollution of the area will be avoided.

Clean coils will favorably impact the bottom line of your establishment’s operations.


Richard P. Fennelly is director of product development for CoilPod LLC, a manufacturer of coil-cleaning dust containment devices used in the compressed air cleaning of refrigeration/freezer condenser coils


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