Whether you operate a grocery store, restaurant, or medical facility, maintaining the safe functioning of your commercial refrigeration system is essential for your organization's long-term success. In the unfortunate event of refrigeration system failure, there are some key steps you can take to minimize the impact on your financial bottom line and preserve your inventory.

In this blog post, HVAC and refrigeration specialists from The Air King have come together to help you bolster your emergency preparedness. We discuss how you can identify early warning signs, what to do if your commercial refrigeration system fails, and offer some insight into how you can minimize a system failure's impact.

Let's begin!

Signs Your Refrigeration System May Be Failing

Before jumping into the steps you can take to mitigate damage from a commercial refrigeration system failure, we think it's worthwhile to highlight some early warning signs. The sooner you can identify that your refrigeration system is having an issue, the more likely you'll be able to repair the damage, minimize disruptions to your operations, and prevent more significant problems.

Although commercial refrigeration systems vary in size and specifications, some standard indicators can alert you to underlying problems with your equipment. We recommend conducting regular assessments of your refrigeration systems and reaching out to a professional service if you notice any of the following:

  • Inconsistent temperature levels
  • Loud or unusual noises
  • Excessive ice buildup on evaporator coils
  • Water pooling or leaks
  • Compressor problems (overheating, frequent cycling, delayed starting)
  • New foul odors
  • Alarms or error code displays
  • Increased energy bills without increased usage

What to Do When Your Commercial Refrigeration System Fails

In the unfortunate event of a refrigeration system failure, keeping your composure and acting quickly to preserve your inventory and minimize your losses is important. Our team recommends following these steps in case of emergency:

Assess the Damage

When your refrigeration system malfunctions, the first thing you should do is assess the damage. Is there a massive leak? Do you see an unusual buildup of ice? Are there visibly broken parts? The more information you have about the state of your equipment, the easier it will be for a repair technician to run diagnostics and resolve your issues.

Call for Help

After looking for the source of the issue and trying to identify the scale of damage to your system, you should contact a local contractor for repairs. Your preliminary assessment of your equipment should help you provide a refrigeration technician with some basic information to help them arrive at your place of business adequately prepared.

However, the sooner you contact a professional service provider, the better. Even if you're unsure of the extent of the problems with your system, it's always better to call a contractor to conduct an inspection than leave an issue unattended.

Choose a Reliable HVAC and Refrigeration Repair Service

As important as it is to contact a professional repair service, it's even more important to choose a reliable HVAC and refrigeration company. We recommend reaching out to the same service that installed your commercial system or partnering with a reputable local team that will provide you with honest assessments and estimates.

Safeguard Your Perishables

Whether your business houses a large store of frozen products, perishables, or temperature-sensitive items, take steps to protect your inventory when your refrigeration system gives out. Ideally, you should have a contingency plan ahead of a cold storage emergency, but in case you don't, we recommend taking the following steps in the event of a system failure:

  • Rent or borrow temporary refrigeration units.
  • Use refrigerated trucks/transport containers.
  • Cover your items with cooling mats.
  • Store your items in coolers or commercial ice chests.
  • Collaborate with neighboring businesses or facilities.
  • Reinforce your existing cold spaces with additional insulation.
  • Ask your refrigeration service about temporary storage options.

Take Photos and Keep Records of the Incident

In addition to the above steps, we advise business owners to document the damage to streamline insurance claims and ensure regulatory compliance. Take photos of the damage to your premises, products, and equipment, and keep detailed records of the incident to ensure you can accurately file claims and receive fair compensation.

How to Minimize the Impact of Refrigeration Emergencies

In an ideal world, you'll never have to deal with refrigeration emergencies, but as a business owner, you should be prepared for the possibility of system failures. We recommend taking the following steps to minimize the impact of refrigeration system failures:

Invest in Preventative Maintenance

One of the most effective ways to mitigate refrigeration issues is to invest in preventative maintenance from a reputable HVAC contractor. Preventive maintenance can be as simple as conducting annual or bi-annual system inspections. It can help flag potential problem areas and resolve minor issues before they become significant.

It may seem unnecessary, but dealing with product loss or water damage due to refrigeration problems will cost you significantly more in the long run than investing in regular inspections.

Develop an Emergency Plan

Although many businesses create contingency plans for emergencies and unexpected accidents, it's worth reiterating that having an emergency preparedness plan for dealing with refrigeration issues is essential. Designate team members with specific roles and responsibilities, keep a reputable contractor's contact information, and ensure you have a plan for protecting your perishables.


Regardless of your industry, if you have a commercial refrigeration system, it's wise to develop an emergency preparedness plan to minimize the impact of system failures on your daily operations. Monitor your system for early warning signs, invest in regular inspections, and ensure you have a relationship with an HVAC specialist to support your needs in an emergency.

Connect With the Team at The Air King

If you're concerned about your commercial refrigeration system or need maintenance or inspections, contact the experienced team at The Air King. As local HVAC and refrigeration experts, we've worked with countless businesses in the area and have built a reputation for excellence through years of quality service. We'll happily schedule you for a risk-free consultation to address all your questions and concerns.

Call (313) 274-4320 to connect with us today.