How To Manage Odors for Walk-in Coolers and Freezers

Commercial walk-in coolers and freezers are airtight, enclosed spaces, so it’s not unheard of for them to develop odors from time-to-time. But how much of that odor is normal? And when is a bad smell indicative of a larger problem with your equipment?

Here are the best ways to manage odors in your commercial walk-in coolers and freezers and how to recognize if you have an odor-related problem with your commercial refrigeration equipment that may require expert inspection or repair.

Visual Inspection

The first step to troubleshooting any unexplained odor in your walk-in refrigeration system is to complete a visual check of the equipment. Do you see any spills that weren’t properly cleaned? Is the cooler or freezer operating at the correct temperature? Is there any damage that could be compromising the function of the equipment? Do you see any mold or mildew that could be contributing to the problem? Have you checked the service records to make sure the equipment has been properly maintained?

Sometimes a thorough visual inspection will reveal a simple solution to the odor problem and allow you to resolve the issue quickly.

Thorough Cleaning

Odorsin Walk-in Coolers
If you can’t determine what’s causing the smell with a visual inspection, the next step in eliminating odors in a walk-in cooler or freezer is to conduct a thorough cleaning. It’s best if you can remove the entire contents of the unit to another temperature-appropriate area and completely clean everything from top to bottom, including under and behind any shelving. Use a basic soap and water mixture, since harsh chemicals are not recommended for cleaning inside most commercial refrigerator and freezer units. In fact, some harsh chemical cleaners could damage the interior lining of the equipment, giving mold and mildew a perfect environment for growth.

As you’re moving product out of the areas to be cleaned, be sure to check for expired items that have been pushed to the back or stocked incorrectly. Mislabeled or incorrectly placed products are more likely to spoil, and can often account for problem odors in freezers and coolers.

After cleaning, make sure to allow ample time for everything to completely dry before placing products back in their places. This will also give the walk-in some time to air out. Allowing enough time for the cleaned areas to dry completely will help ensure you don’t create a new mold or mildew problem while you’re trying to resolve the existing problem.

Absorb Odors

After you’ve thoroughly cleaned the walk-in, you should place an absorption agent inside the equipment to help soak up any lingering odors. There are several absorption agents that are safe to store around food in the cooler or freezer. A bowl of charcoal, fresh coffee grounds, and baking soda are all good options to absorb remaining odors. Place a bowl of the absorption agent inside the equipment and change it out daily for a few days. However, if the smell doesn’t go away after a few days, or if it gets worse, then an absorption agent won’t fix the problem.

Lingering Odor

If you’ve thoroughly cleaned the cooler and are still experiencing problems with odor, you may have a more serious problem within your refrigeration system. There are a wide variety of issues that could lead to odor problems in commercial refrigeration equipment that can’t be fixed with a simple cleaning. One of the most common maintenance issues that can cause odor issues in commercial refrigeration units is the internal coil. Given the moisture in the coil area, it can easily build up mold around the coil if it isn’t properly cleaned and maintained regularly.

You could try running through a basic maintenance checklist to see if you can find a problem that could be creating the odor. If you can’t troubleshoot the issue on your own, or if you suspect a more serious problem with your commercial walk-in cooler or freezer, you should contact an experienced Austin commercial refrigeration company to help with the problem.

Has an unexplained odor been lingering in your commercial freezer, refrigerator, or ice maker? Call 512 Refrigeration Services for any of your Austin, Texas commercial refrigeration problems. Expert technicians are available 24/7 to troubleshoot problems with your ice machine, reach-in cooler, walk-in cooler or freezer, and more.

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