You might not think about how you store acidic foods in your commercial freezer, but it can easily turn into a big deal if you're not careful. Given enough time, many of the foods you store can easily contribute to corrosion issues in your freezer. This can lead to serious malfunctions that result in equipment downtime and potentially lost profit.
The following offers an in-depth guide on how certain corrosive foods can damage your commercial freezer and how you can prevent that damage from happening.
What Acids Can Do to Your Freezer
Certain fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs can release acids as they're being stored in your freezer. These acids can quickly become corrosive once they make contact with the inner surfaces of your freezer, setting off a chain of events that eventually leads to the destruction of these surfaces over a long period of time.
As acid etches its way through bare metal, it can create pinhole leaks that weaken the metal structure and allow humid air to leak into the freezer area. Some metals, like stainless steel, are more resistant to acid than others, but even the best grade of stainless steel can corrode if given enough neglect. Acid-laden moisture can also reach the evaporator coil, resulting in the potential for refrigerant leaks and eventual compressor failure.
Acidic Foods to Keep an Eye On
Certain acidic foods can react corrosively with the surrounding metal structure of your commercial freezer if left uncovered for long periods. These acidic foods include citric fruits (such as lemons, limes and oranges) and fruit juices, pickled vegetables and fish, marinades, dressings and sauces. Pickles and certain varieties of tomatoes with high-acid characteristics can also emit corrosive acids when improperly stored.
This not only includes the actual foodstuffs, but any residue that happens to end up on the floor or surrounding surfaces of the freezer. A little pickle juice here, a few chunks of tomato there—aside from the need for cleanup, these things may not seem like a big deal until visible corrosion starts forming in these areas.
How to Prevent Acidic Foods from Damaging Your Freezer
When it comes to dealing with corrosion in commercial freezers, prevention is always the best policy. The best way to prevent any sort of damage from happening to your freezer is to keep those acidic foods covered while they're being stored. Plastic non-corrosive storage containers are ideal, as these can withstand the corrosive nature of certain foods, especially when stored for several days or more. Plastic wrap should only be used for short-term storage since there's no way to guarantee an air-tight seal.
Potentially acidic food residue can be neutralized with the use of a mild soap and warm water. Avoid using harsh chemicals when cleaning the freezer, as the chemicals could damage the metal surface inside the freezer and make it more vulnerable to corrosion.
Commercial freezers should be completely emptied and thoroughly cleaned at least once a month to maintain hygiene standards and prevent acidic food residue from corroding freezer components. The evaporator and condenser coils should also be cleaned, but on a twice-yearly basis. You can use a no-rinse coil cleaner or mild soap and water to remove residue from both coils.
Excellent preventative maintenance is the key to keeping your commercial freezer working like new. That means keeping an eye on even the most unlikely of issues that could lead to possible equipment failure. For more information or assistance, you should consider hiring a local commercial refrigeration service to come and either inspect your freezers or help repair them so they last longer.