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Fridge Not Taking the Heat in the Kitchen? Here are the Top 3 Things You Can Do

Back of house
Back of house

We talk to SKOPE refrigeration expert Glenn Hinman about how to keep your back of house cool every summer.

SKOPE is chosen by experienced hospitality operators because they know just how much hinges on keeping their produce cool in a hot professional kitchen during a burning Aussie or Kiwi summer heatwave. We know, for example, from data collected via SKOPE-connect that our ActiveCore display fridges weathered the recent record-breaking heatwaves in Adelaide like it was just another Friday night.

Yet, regardless of the quality of the fridge you choose to use back of house, there are always things you can do to maximize the chances that you’ll experience a snag-free summer every year.

1. Load produce the right way

Glenn Hinman - SKOPE Refrigeration
Glenn Hinman - SKOPE Refrigeration

“A fridge is one big circulatory system,” says Glenn Hinman, SKOPE Technical Support Manager. “Just instead of pumping blood around your body its pumping air around your shelves.” Space is money when it comes to fridge shelving whether you work front of house or back. While the front of house display merchandiser needs to be full to maximize impulse sales, its back of house equivalent simply needs to be full to get the best return on the power cost of running the fridge.

But often, hospitality owners take things a bit far, which cuts off circulation and increases the chance of the fridge having problems.

“It’s a classic case, we see it all the time. Products within your fridge differ in temperature or don’t feel cold enough, yet the fridge is packed top to bottom with product. It’s like a challenge to see how much product can be stored in the fridge,” Glenn says. “It’s the same with any fridge. You need to leave some room around the produce on the shelf to allow the air to circulate. It’s an easy fix, so if you’ve got varying product temperatures in your fridge, this is your number one action. It’ll only cost you a few minutes of shelf shuffling, if you will, but it could save you hundreds on repair and maintenance!”

2. Location, location, location

Your commercial kitchen is not unlike the real estate market. In the same way the noise from a main road will affect the value of a house, the external environmental factors around a fridge can play a big part on its performance.

“Wow, where do you start with this one? Dust, flour, splashes of water, doors that let in big drafts of hot air – these are all to be avoided if you can help it,” Glenn says. “Sometimes your options are a bit limited in terms of where to place a fridge, but if you’ve got the chance really think hard about what environment you’re placing it in.”

Placing a fridge right next to the sanitizing or dish washing station can expose it to hot water, while chucking it next to an open, drafty entrance will expose it to warm air it has to fight against to keep things cool.

But ovens, not surprisingly, are the biggest concern. “It sounds silly saying this, but you have to remember that a lot of hospitality operators inherit their kitchens or just don’t get a choice in the layout, so it has to be said. If you can at all help it, treat your fridge and oven like relatives who really don’t like each other, and your kitchen like a wedding venue. Place them as far away from each other as you can!”

3. Get smart with your maintenance

Cleaning the coil in a refrigeration cartridge
Cleaning the coil in a refrigeration cartridge

No one likes cleaning fridges. If they did, that would be strange. But maintaining a commercial fridge with regular, appropriate cleaning is absolutely essential.

“Everyone hates doing it, and no one has time for it, but not cleaning any commercial fridge is kind of like asking for trouble,” Glenn says. “Always keep your user manual somewhere all your staff can access it. You could even scan out the cleaning instructions and stick them to the side or door of the fridge if you wanted.”

Cleaning your fridge doesn’t have to be a slog, however. To ensure high reliability, you can focus on the areas that matter the most first. Plus, regular cleaning reduces the need for that annual big clean up! “It’s all about air, obviously. So vents, grilles or filters are all essential parts you need to clean every week to maintain optimum fridge performance. This doesn’t take long, it’s basically dusting at the end of the day – but it plays a huge role on whether you’ll be able to rely on your fridge in the heat.”

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So there you have it. Choosing a quality fridge is a must, but it’s really just the best first step you can take to make sure your food service remains uninterrupted every summer.

Don’t forget, if you need support or advice on maintaining your SKOPE fridge get in contact.

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