Common Problems with Walk in Coolers & Freezers

3 Common Problem Areas With Walk-In Coolers & Freezers

In the chaotic restaurant business, the last thing you want to worry about is if your kitchen’s refrigerator and freezer are working. While some issues are hard to spot—but easily managed with regular maintenance—more obvious symptoms like ice buildup are telltale signs of problems to come. Here are the most common issues you will see in your walk-in cooler or freezer.

Issues That Arise With Walk-In Refrigeration Units

1. Problems with the Door Seal

The door seals on your walk-in refrigerator or freezer help to keep the cold air in and the warm air out. As they age, the door seals will start to wear down and lose their grip, and the closure they get becomes off-kilter. When warm air intrudes, condensation forms, encouraging mold growth, wet floors, and generally unsanitary conditions. It’s also a waste of energy because the refrigerator has to work harder to keep its contents cold as the cold air escapes through the bad door seal.

A commercial refrigeration specialist can remedy this by caulking the seams with high-grade mold-resistant silicone. Getting a new door for your walk-in unit or replacing the seal can also work! You should also regularly check the heater strips on your freezer door, which should be warm to the touch. This heating element assures that the door doesn’t freeze shut and melts ice buildup around the door frame.

2. Broken Evaporators, Condensers, & Compressors

The evaporators in walk-in coolers and freezers are what project cold air through the use of refrigerant. They work in a cyclic relationship with condensers to remove heat from inside the walk-in cooler or freezer and expel it outside. If water does begin to pool, an excess buildup of ice can form on the evaporator coil as a result. The compressor then has to work harder with less efficiency to keep the cycle going. If the condenser also doesn’t have enough ventilation, then the process is even less efficient, as it can’t expel heat properly.

All of these components go hand-in-hand to create the refrigeration process. When the compressor has to work harder to compensate for the inefficiency in the rest of the system, it overworks, wastes energy, and eventually breaks, putting the products inside at risk of spoilage. Regular commercial refrigeration maintenance will keep the evaporator free of ice buildup, the condenser sufficiently releasing heat, and the compressor running smoothly.

3. Clogged Drain Pan

While the evaporator is what creates the cold environment for your walk-in cooler or freezer or other commercial refrigeration equipment, it also has an automatic defrost cycle that helps to prevent excess ice buildup. When that happens, the melted ice flows in a specified line to a tray on the refrigerator’s floor called a drain pan. The purpose of this tray is for the water to leave the cool confines of the space and evaporate into the air outside. Sometimes, though, the drain pan overflows.

This issue is typically caused by a clog in the drain pan or the line that delivers the water. While not only inconvenient, clogged lines can also contribute to ice buildup on the evaporation coil, which can set off the extensive problems listed earlier. Commercial refrigeration maintenance will include cleaning and clearing any clogs in these two spots by breaking down any sediment that gets caught.


Whether you see signs of these issues on your commercial refrigeration or just haven’t had routine maintenance in a while, you can rely on our team at Fugh Refrigeration to do the job right. With over 70 years in the business, we are your go-to specialists in Butler, PA, for buying, installing, and maintaining your commercial refrigerator or freezer. For more information about our appliances and services, call us today at (724) 481-5076.

About The Author

Fugh Refrigeration

Fugh Refrigeration offers commercial refrigeration repair as well as new and used restaurant equipment. True experts in the field, you can trust that Fugh Refrigeration will meet all your HVAC and commercial refrigeration needs.