Spring (summer) has finally sprung up in Boston, and it’s time to do a little preventative maintenance on your refrigerated vending machine. This includes your cold drink vending machine, combination vending machine, food vending machine, frozen vending machine, as well as your coolers and freezers and anything else that has a refrigeration system (i.e: your home refrigerator).
Most people are good at keeping their machines clean on the outside, but the inside is where the magic happens and what should be looked at on a regular basis. And that would be the condenser for the refrigeration system. The condenser is that black or silver grate that you see in the bottom of the machine. Having a fan running to cool your machine also means a lot of dirt and dust will be drawn into the unit. Ignore this part of your vending machine and you could end up with an overheated and damaged refrigeration system. A very expensive repair that could have been prevented. Not to mention wasted product if it is a food vending machine or, maybe even worse, if it’s a frozen vending machine and you get a melt down. If you’ve ever had a meltdown in a frozen machine you know what I mean. If not, lucky you!
“So, how do I clean my vending machines cooling system” you ask? It’s very easy, but not always convenient. Most stack beverage machines have the evaporator readily accessible, while combination vending machines may or may not. My favorite and go to way is compressed air and coil cleaner*. While this works great, the downside is if your machine has been ignored it will create a huge cloud of dust. If you’re onsite at your location you will have some very unhappy customers if you use this method. “Oh no, what do I do now?” Unless you want to remove the refrigeration system from your machine (and sometimes that will be the only answer) it’s time to settle in and get down to work. You want to have with you a stiff bristled brush or, better yet, a fin comb, a vacuum cleaner and your coil cleaner*. Turn on the vacuum and start brushing. Hopefully, you haven’t ignored this to the point that brushing won’t work. When you are done, use the coil cleaner to finish up and treat the coils. Very easy, unless you can’t get to the condenser or they are just too clogged for this to work. If it’s clogged and you can’t get it clean, your machine is giving you some payback. You’ve been asking it to run a marathon while breathing through a straw. Now it’s getting you back. Time to pull the system out and give it a good cleaning.
On newer combination vending machines there is an old trend that is new again, filter screens. While these do a great job of keeping your condenser clean, they will clog faster than your condenser and need to be checked more often. Most manufacturers have a reminder program set in the machines to let you know it’s time to look at your filters/screens. If you have an older machine, you may not have this. Either way, it is critical to keep these clean. We offer an onsite vending machine repair service. On a recent repair, I met with the customer (we’ll call him Mike) who suddenly had a cooling issue. Mike told me how he made sure the machine was never up against the wall and how he kept the screens clean.
And he did, but just the back screen. He had forgotten all about the screen in the front. When I opened up the front trap door to check the condenser, I was amazed………
The inlet screen was blocked solid. This is what you don’t want to see. Unfortunately for Mike, the compressor overheated and failed. Now he is in for a very expensive repair that may have been avoided if he took the time to be thorough.
Don’t be like Mike…Clean those screens. Give your vending machine the love it deserves and, hopefully, it will give you many more years of uninterrupted service.
*A note on coil cleaners: They are not all created equal. Some have a very pungent smell to them and are irritable to some people. I use an FDA approved cleaner that has a gentler scent. Experiment with the coil cleaner before you use it onsite to be sure you won’t stink everyone out.