While most commercial refrigeration units are very durable, natural disasters can have an impact on how they function -- or whether they are able to be used at all. Here are some of the ways that the two biggest and most likely natural catastrophes, flooding and earthquakes, can impact walk-in refrigerators and freezers.
If a commercial refrigeration unit is properly sealed and the condenser is located on the building's roof, flooding may not affect it at all. The biggest problems occur when condensers are at ground level or units have holes for wiring that aren't properly closed.
A condenser that gets wet must be disassembled by a professional refrigeration technician, thoroughly dried, and examined for any parts that have failed. Those are replaced before the entire condenser is put back together and checked to ensure it works correctly.
Other damage to a walk-in unit can occur if water gets inside. The foam insulation used in the walls of most walk-ins can retain water if it gets wet. When the refrigeration is turned back on, the water can freeze in the foam, ruining it and the wall panels around it. Refrigeration technicians will often turn down the temperature by a few degrees each day, allowing the slightly cooler air to suck moisture out without freezing.
Finally, owners of commercial refrigeration units that have flooded need to check carefully for signs of mold. This can happen along weather stripping or caulk strips or inside the interior panels. The smell of mold or mildew, or food items becoming moldy quickly, can indicate the presence of mold inside the walk-in.
One of the biggest risks to commercial refrigeration units during an earthquake is damage to the condenser unit. These are often located on top of a building, where the shaking and swaying in a seismic event is greatest.
You can be proactive if you live in an area where earthquakes are likely to happen. Have your refrigeration technician come by for a visit to confirm that the condenser has been properly installed for seismic activity. Any condenser should have some type of vibration isolation curb on a post and beam that is mounted securely to the roof. This minimizes movement of the condenser and prevents it from falling and being ruined or causing damage to the facility or people.
The walk-in unit itself should be examined along with the rest of the building after an earthquake, to ensure it has not come off its foundation or opened up cracks in the interior panels.
If your commercial refrigeration unit sustains damage following a natural disaster of any kind, check with your insurance company to see if repairs will be covered. Most refrigeration units carry a warranty that excludes "Acts of God" -- in other words, floods, earthquakes and storms.
For more information about repairing your unit, contact a company like Sparks Refrigeration.