Installing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting a Medical Refrigerator Freezer

Very few items in a laboratory are as crucial as the medical refrigerator freezer. A lab freezer is quite different than an ordinary refrigerator found in the home, and medical refrigerators and freezers are crucial to keeping vaccines and other important laboratory and medical items at the proper temperature to ensure safety and effectiveness. A medical refrigerator freezer is an investment and will only do its job if it is installed and maintained appropriately.


  1. Make sure the unit has room for circulation. This means a minimum of four inches on the top, to the rear, and at both sides. This is crucial to keeping the unit from overheating and maintain consistent temperature levels.
  2. Keep the unit level. Do not guess. Use a carpenter’s level to ensure that your medical refrigerator freezer is perfectly level to the ground.
  3. Ensure a stable power supply. In order to protect the vaccines and other medical items in your pharmaceutical freezer, it is absolutely crucial that you have a stable and reliable power supply with a backup in case of power outages or brownouts. Never use an extension cord, and always wire explosion-proof freezers and refrigerators directly into the electrical grid.
  4. Ensure that temperatures around the unit are not too warm. If the medical refrigerator freezer has to work too hard because of high ambient temperatures, there is a possibility of failure and of dramatically shortened lifespan.

Educate Employees

Everyone who works with and around a medical refrigerator freezer needs to be familiar with all the regular maintenance and troubleshooting procedures of the unit. It is also important that everyone be properly aware of the importance of maintaining consistent temperatures at all times and familiar with protocol should temperatures in a scientific refrigerator or freezer ever drop out of the ideal range.

Set Up Regular Auto-Defrost and Maintenance Schedules

It is of the utmost importance to keep a medical refrigerator freezer perfectly clean. Interior surfaces need to be cleaned regularly, and especially after spills, and the exterior should be cleaned regularly as well. It is crucial that condensers be cleaned on a regular basis by a qualified technician. The condensers are the heat transfer system of the refrigerator, and when they become clogged with dust the compressor can be damaged or temperatures can drop. To forestall any issues, always set up professional maintenance on the schedule recommended by the manufacturer.

Familiarize Yourself With Basic Troubleshooting

Being able to manage basic troubleshooting with your medical refrigerator freezer can help you avoid a serious loss.

  1. If the compressor won’t start or there is no hum from the unit Check that the power supply has not been disconnected or tripped.
  2. Temperatures in the unit are too high Check that the settings are not too high or the refrigerant overcharged. Also check that the condenser is not dirty and that the airflow has not been blocked in some way. Check whether the evaporator coil has iced over.
  3. Odd noises emanate from the refrigerator This could be due to rattling tubes, a vibrating fan blade, worn motor bearings, or a fan blade hitting the shroud. Call a technician as soon as possible.
  4. Temperatures in the unit are too low If the standard temperature setting is freezing products within the refrigerator, check whether the control settings are too low or control points have stuck.
  5. The unit never turns off The compressor on your medical refrigerator freezer should not work continuously. If it is never shutting off, check that refrigerant levels have not gone too low. Also look to see whether the evaporator coil has iced over, or whether the contacts are stuck.
  6. Cycles are too short If the compressor is continually running short cycles, check whether the refrigerant is overcharged or undercharged or whether there is air in the system. Also check the overload protector and try increasing the spread between the lower and upper settings of temperature.

A medical refrigerator freezer is an essential piece of laboratory equipment. Keep yours running efficiently and correctly by installing and maintaining it properly.

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