Article contributed by Daniel P Rizzo, Owner, Gina Marie Refrigerator Doors
Humidity is a refrigerator or freezer’s worst enemy. As a result, cold storage equipment becomes burdened when humidity levels exceed 55%.
Seasonal statistics show that the average Summer day in NJ can yield an outside humidity level of 74%. When humidity reaches a level of this magnitude cold storage equipment, commercial air conditioning units, and business owners must work overtime to keep cool.
When the weather begins to take this turn, “all the ugliness begins to show up,” warned Dan Rizzo, owner of Gina Marie Refrigerator Doors based in Farmingdale, NY. Rizzo has been installing and servicing cold storage equipment in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast for more than 30 years. He asserts that each and every cold storage unit is subject to issues created by extreme heat and humidity.
“It’s a total ripple effect,” explained Rizzo. One of the first things business owners will see is condensation inside a refrigerator or freezer unit. “Condensation becomes a nightmare for owners, employees, and clients. All the way down from safety, to energy, to aesthetic, and structurally.”
Notably, when humidity creates temperature issues inside a refrigerator or freezer showcase, sliding or swinging doors will fog up.
“Customers can’t buy what they can’t see. If a customer can’t see through the glass, they may become discouraged and/or try to wipe the glass,” said Rizzo. “It creates additional labor for the employer to try to clean the glass too.”
Once a cold storage unit like a swinging refrigerator door begins to exhibit issues with condensation, a domino effect of problems are likely to occur.
“Condensation can end up on the floor and becomes a safety issue that can turn into a lawsuit. Also, the same condensation can destroy floors. People have tile floors on top of wood; the water drips down into the wood, lifts the tiles, and can become a trip hazard,” explained Rizzo. On top of safety and structural problems, the “pooling water is a health department violation that can give way to mildew and mold.”
Humidity attacks the temperature control systems inside freezer units as well. In some cases these temperature swings can trigger the system to frost over.
“If you get frost buildup on the boxes and on the product—you can’t even see the labels on the product and in some cases the door freezes shut,” said Rizzo. “Frost buildup also ices up the [unit’s] coil. In this process, the temps in the boxes get higher, and the integrity of the product is compromised.”
Whether a product is subject to freezer burn or abnormally high temperatures, customers will be purchasing frost-ridden freezer products, milk that has gone sour, thawed meat that has been refrozen, or ice cream gone soft. Whatever the case, these issues will hinder an owner’s pride in their business and destroy customer trust.
Gina Marie and company are advocates of regular evaluation and service of any businesses cold storage climate.
“Start with the entrance of the store or any receiving area where products are coming in the back of the house.” Rizzo advocates for air curtain installs above entrances and strip curtains around receiving areas. “I also look at the air conditioning systems. Have they been acid washed? Have the filters been changed?”
Gina Marie experts are able to consult their clients to which cold storage products are necessary for each business. What’s more, once a client has installed a cold storage unit, the Gina Marie team offers continuous service and an alternative to buying new.
“There are some customers out there–like Veneiro’s Bakery in Manhattan. They’re an old time bakery and they want to keep that nostalgic look. We will retrofit, we will accommodate keeping their aesthetic, and be gentle to their budget,” said Rizzo. “Of course, there are always situations where it doesn’t make sense to put good money into something that has outlived its’ useful life. But, we have clients with showcases from the 60s that we continue to restore. We’re able to get these old machines to be more energy compliant with the same old, tech that was built so solid and so well.”
The final piece of the cold storage puzzle has to do with energy consumption. Most recently, East Coast clients are starting to see more issues when purchasing products which are compliant with CA Energy Act regulations.
“These energy efficient products are not rated to operate above 75 degrees and 55% humidity,” cited Rizzo.
However, when the average East Coast Summer day is 80+ degrees and 70%+ humidity, clients must increase or upgrade air conditioning levels in order for the machines to work properly.
“In the efforts of trying to save energy here, we’re spending more over there,” explained Rizzo. “While, those energy efficient doors are doing great right now [referencing Springtime’s mild weather], we recommend installing a device that turns on when the dew point increases rather than something that is energy efficient all of the time.”
Rizzo and the team have become go-to consultants for their clients from Delaware up to Connecticut, and beyond. The East Coast experiences issues that only individuals like Dan Rizzo fully understand. As the Gina Marie technicians prep for another Summertime battle for cold storage efficiency, the team plans to hear from the type of client they’ve gotten call from for years.
“Our client is someone that is considerate and has pride in one’s business,” said Dan Rizzo. “We love the people we work with because this is usually a reflection of them and what they want for their customers.”