If you own or run a hospitality business, there is a pretty good chance there is a cool room somewhere on the premises. What separates them from any other storage space is that if the cool room goes down, particularly in the middle of summer, then you have a real problem on your hands. If all your perishable stock is suddenly sitting there at room temperature, you will find yourself losing a lot of money as that stock will no longer be useable. Combine that with downtime from being out of operation for a period of time and you’re looking at significant downturn in profitability. Not to mention any potential reputational damage.
The best way to avoid any such disaster from occurring is through regular cool room maintenance. Making sure your cool room is well looked after will not only help prevent a full-blown breakdown, it will also ensure that it’s running as efficiently as possible, helping to reduce your energy costs. So let’s explore some good practices that will help keep your cool room in tip top shape.
If you’re in the hospitality industry, you should be pretty used to cleaning by now, so this one shouldn’t come as a shock.
Clean the walls regularly with a damp cloth and mild detergent. Take note of any particular stains on the walls, and if they continue to reappear after cleaning, then this could a sign of a larger problem. In such a case, your cool room may need professional maintenance.
Make sure the seal is clean by going over it with a damp cloth. This should remove any build up of muck that could be disrupting the seal and reducing the cool room’s efficiency. You may need to use detergent for any particularly sticky bits but avoid using any heavy duty cleaners as they can damage the seals.
In addition to regular cleaning, make sure that spillages are mopped up straight away. A spillage can cause bacterial contamination if left for too long, plus they can create slip hazards for you employees.
Food safety is the most important aspect of hospitality, so you’ll need to make sure your cool room is organised in a way that ensures effective rotation of stock. As well as reducing stock waste, a well organised cool room can help to avoid hidden outbreaks of rotten food that can escalate into larger problems. It will also make life easier for your staff, and will make inspection time a lot less stressful.
Record your refrigeration temperatures every day. Most hospitality businesses already do this several times a day, so it’s important that you do too. If the cool room temperature is fluctuating a lot, it could be a sign of a developing problem, in which case it’s time for some professional maintenance.
Keep an eye out for any water leaks and record them if they occur. Also, keep track of your food and check that it’s properly frozen. If anything is thawing out in the cool room, you may have a problem that needs to be diagnosed by a professional. The longer you leave it, the worse it will get.
It’s also good to trust your nose, and strange smells could be a sign of a leak. Your cool room might still be able to keep things cold if this happens, but it will have to work overtime. This can cause unnecessary wear and tear and will ramp up your energy bills.
Mould is a real nightmare in any situation, particularly when food is involved. In a cool room it can occur when warm air seeps in, causing condensation to build up on surfaces. This can occur when staff don’t properly close the door, or if the seals are not properly maintained. To best avoid mould from growing in the first place, it helps to follow these points:
- Inspect and clean your airtight door seals regularly and repair or replace when needed
- Ensure a fully functioning and clean vent is available in your cold room
- Check for leaks and repair them as soon as they are identified
- Dispose of any food that is past its ‘use by’ date to stop the spread of mould spores
- Avoid using paper or wood in your cold room when possible
Treat your cool room like you treat your car. Just because you take good care of your cool room, doesn’t mean you can skip scheduled maintenance just to save a few bucks. Keep it regularly serviced by its commercial refrigeration installation company to make sure there aren’t any unseen problems waiting to escalate into something bigger.
As the owner or operator of a hospitality business, it’s your responsibility to ensure procedures are in place to keep your cool room in good nick. If neglected, it can potentially end up causing you a big headache, so make sure you treat your cool room like any other expensive piece of equipment to keep your business running smoothly and profitable.