Water that creeps out from beneath freezers and refrigerators can make aisles slippery. A combination of preventive maintenance and high-traction matting helps prevent slips and falls in these areas.
Like other equipment and machinery, refrigerators and freezers need to be maintained for operating efficiency. Water leaking from beneath a unit is a warning sign that something isn’t right. Underlying problems can include the following.
- Obstructed or Malfunctioning Drains Refrigeration systems have defrost settings that keep ice from forming inside the unit. Defrost systems have drainage hoses that channel water into collection pans or floor drains. Over time, dirt and debris can clog drain lines. Hoses may also become separated from their couplers or develop kinks that interfere with draining. Defrosted water can also freeze over a drain. Regularly checking and cleaning drain lines will help prevent leaks from causes such as these.
- Cracked or Contaminated Gaskets Door gaskets are made of flexible polymers that wear down over time and become brittle or cracked. This compromises the tight seal that should form between the door and the cooling unit, letting warm air enter and causing the compressor and condenser units to work harder, creating more condensation. Even gaskets in good condition can present problems. If they harbor mold or are not properly fitted, they might not seat correctly and let warm air enter. Most gaskets in commercial refrigeration and freezer units have retaining clips that allow removal for cleaning and replacement.
- Dirty Coils Evaporators, compressors and condensers work together to maintain the temperature in a cooling unit. All have coils that must be free of dust and debris to operate efficiently. Dirty condenser coils can cause overheating, triggering the evaporator’s defrost cycle to run more often and create more condensatione. Dirty coils also increase energy use.
- Inadequate Structural Integrity When checking door seals, also inspect the interior and exterior walls of each cooling unit. Moisture, frost build-up, and loose insulation or panels can signal larger problems and contribute to water leaks under the unit.
- Challenging Environmental Conditions Some important preventive maintenance concerns the location of a refrigerator or freezer rather than the unit itself. When outdoor temperatures and humidity are high, it’s vital to control the climate of the room that houses a cooling unit, or it will run harder and longer and produce more condensation.
A Way to Counteract Leaks
While you are working to bring condensation leaks under control, you will need to ensure that they do not create slip and fall hazards. An effective measure is placing high-traction, adhesive-backed absorbent matting in aisles where leaks spread. An added bonus for commercial units in grocery stores is that absorbent matting will also quickly soak up spills from dropped bottles, jars and containers.
It pays to properly maintain refrigeration and freezer units, control their surrounding climates and be prepared to absorb leaks. These efforts will help improve safety, reduce energy use and prevent costly repairs or premature failure.