Common Commercial Fridge Failures: Understanding the Causes and Solutions

Commercial refrigerators are necessary appliances in a variety of industries, including restaurants, supermarkets, and food service establishments. These refrigerators are intended to keep perishable items at optimal temperatures. 

However, they, like any mechanical system, are prone to failures and malfunctions. Understanding the most common commercial fridge failures can assist business owners and maintenance personnel in quickly diagnosing issues and ensuring the smooth operation of their refrigeration systems. In this article, we will look at common commercial fridge failures and discuss possible causes and solutions.

Common Commercial Fridge Failures

1. Compressor Failure

The compressor is the heart of a commercial refrigerator, responsible for circulating refrigerant and keeping the temperature stable. Failures of compressors can occur for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Overheating: Inadequate ventilation or excessive dust accumulation can cause the compressor to overheat and fail. The condenser coils of the refrigerator must be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis to avoid this problem.
  • Electrical Problems: The compressor can be damaged by faulty wiring, loose connections, or power surges. This risk can be reduced by ensuring proper electrical connections and using surge protectors.

Solution: When a compressor fails, it is often necessary to replace the entire unit. Cleaning the condenser coils and checking electrical connections on a regular basis can help prevent compressor failure.

2. Evaporator Fan Malfunction

The evaporator fan is in charge of circulating cold air within the refrigerator. If the fan fails, the refrigerator may not properly cool, resulting in food spoilage. The following are some of the most common causes of evaporator fan failure:

  • Motor Issues: The fan motor can wear out or become faulty over time, resulting in fan failure. This problem can be exacerbated by a lack of regular maintenance, such as lubrication.
  • Ice Buildup: Excessive ice buildup on the evaporator coils can clog the fan’s blades, preventing it from working properly. This can happen as a result of improper defrosting or a faulty defrost system.

Solution: If the evaporator fan fails, it may be necessary to replace the motor or defrost the coils to remove ice buildup. Routine maintenance should include cleaning, lubrication, and defrosting procedures.

3. Thermostat Problems:

The thermostat regulates the temperature inside the commercial refrigerator. When the thermostat fails, it can cause improper cooling, which can lead to food spoilage or freezing. The following are some of the most common causes of thermostat problems:

  • Calibration Issues: The thermostat may become inaccurate over time and fail to maintain the desired temperature. This can happen as a result of wear and tear or improper maintenance.
  • Electrical Faults: Electrical connection issues or faulty wiring can cause the thermostat to malfunction.

Solution: If the thermostat is not working properly, it may need to be calibrated or replaced. To avoid such failures, regular calibration checks and thorough inspection of electrical connections are recommended.

4. Condenser Issues:

The condenser is in charge of releasing heat from the commercial refrigerator. If it has problems, the fridge’s cooling efficiency may suffer. The following are examples of common condenser failures:

  • Dirt and Debris: Accumulation of dirt, dust, or debris on the condenser coils restricts heat dissipation, causing the refrigerator to work harder and potentially causing a breakdown.
  • Fan Motor Failure: A faulty condenser fan can cause insufficient heat dissipation, affecting the overall cooling performance.

Solution: Regular condenser coil cleaning and fan motor maintenance are critical for preventing condenser-related failures.


Understanding the common failures of commercial refrigerators is critical for businesses that rely on refrigeration systems. Owners and maintenance personnel can implement preventive measures to reduce the risk of breakdowns by being aware of these issues and their causes.

Regular maintenance, such as cleaning, lubrication, and inspection of key components, is essential to ensure the smooth operation of commercial refrigerators, extend their lifespan, and protect perishable goods.

Commercial refrigeration repair service from Active Refrigeration and Air Conditioning can provide you with reliable maintenance services. By getting your refrigeration equipment serviced regularly, you can avoid major repairs.