Should I fix or replace my Walk-in Cooler?
When a Walk-in Refrigerator or Freezer isn’t working one of the common first questions is “can it be fixed, or should I replace it.” Great question.
There are four possible ways to get your walk-in working again. They’re listed from easiest & cheapest to most complicated & most expensive:
1. Cooling System Repair
Repairing the broken evaporator (inside the box) and/or condenser (outside the box.)
2. Cooling System Change Out
Replacing a failed cooling system (both the evaporator and condenser)
3. Refurbish the Walk-in Cooler
Replacing the cooling system and repairing the insulated box including rust, leaking seams, doors, etc
4. Replace the Walk-in Cooler
Tear out the existing walk-in and replace it with a brand-new walk-in
This list is a simplified approach and we can do a mix of these to fit our customer’s unique needs. If the unit has failed and isn’t repairable (determined by a diagnostic service call), the most common thing we do is some version of the 3rd option, Refurbishing a Walk-in Freezer or Refrigerator.
Often by the time a refrigeration system fails, the insulated box is in rough shape from regular wear, age & the cleaning products commonly used in walk-ins (often bleach) that can be corrosive to the aluminum sides.
These are before & after photos of a Walk-in Refrigerator that we recently refurbished.
The “before” photos of this commercial walk-in refrigerator show the broken evaporator & deteriorating aluminum walls. The “after” photo shows the new evaporator unit & the new diamond plate aluminum walls. What is not as obvious in the “after” photo is the thorough cleaning, new door seals, a new condenser, and a new line set.
Refurbishing a Walk-in freezer or refrigerator is not limited to when the cooling system fails. This photo shows heat coming through failed seams with a Flir Thermal Infrared Camera. You can also see frost forming on the ceiling, the low-tech way to know that the seals are failing. Rodents will eat insulation off of lines, and chew through the aluminum walls to get to food sources. If you’ve ever had a rodent pest problem you may need to replace insulation or upgrade from aluminum to a diamond plate wall.
The current global supply chain issues have made the refurbishing option more popular than ever. In the past, the lead time for ordering a brand-new Walk-in Freezer or Refrigerator was around 5 weeks. Now the lead time is often around 6 months.
When deciding, it’s helpful for our customers to know the standard life expectancy of a Walk-in Cooler.
New walk-in insulated boxes (also called panels since they are sold as panels to be assembled into a box) typically have a 15-year panel warranty. The cooling system’s warranty is typically 3-5 years depending on the manufacturer. Refurbishing your walk-in usually adds another 5 to 10 years depending on the condition of the walk-in cooler & how it’s used every day.
As a responsible service company, we do have to say that those estimates assume proper and regular maintenance is performed on your walk-in cooler. We should also say if your business is in the DC Metro area, we offer maintenance contracts to ensure that your equipment is properly cleaned and calibrated as the manufacturer suggests.
Since price is even more helpful for decision making:
A new walk-in cooler installation is usually around $70,000
Refurbishing a walk-in cooler is usually around $25,000
A cooling system change out is usually between $10,000 - $17,000
These price estimates are extremely variable depending on a long list of factors. These round numbers are provided only for loose planning purposes. Please call for an estimate for your unique walk-in needs.
For customers with spoiling food inventory, or other emergency refrigeration needs we offer rental mobile Walk-in Freezers & Walk-in Refrigerators on trailers that can be delivered cold to you same-day.
If you have any additional questions or would like an estimate to replace and/or repair a walk-in unit give us a call 888-937-9080. Our certified refrigeration technician will come on-site to assess the condition of your walk-in’s cooling system, walls, floors, seals, door, etc, and provide a thorough estimate with an expected timeline for either approach.