Laboratory refrigerators in medical facilities and research centres are designed for the reliable and long-term storage of temperature-sensitive samples. As any essential laboratory equipment, failure to follow the best maintenance practices could lead to underperformance. It could be harmful to the laboratory fridge itself, as well as to its valuable sample material.
The main priority for maintaining the high quality standards of cooling devices within the laboratory is to implement a self-documented and automated temperature monitoring system.
Maintaining the integrity of vaccines, medicines, tissues, plasma, and blood samples depends on monitoring. A robust monitoring system alone is not enough for this work. In order to maximise the utility of medical refrigerators, the equipment must be properly operated and properly maintained.
How to keep the device clean, improve its efficiency and prolong its useful life?
1. Pay attention to alarms
Laboratory refrigerators are equipped with alarms indicating low or high temperature, prolonged door opening and power failure. While it is possible to silence all these alerts, you should not ignore them. Instead, you should routinely check them within the maintenance and cleaning program. In addition, the different refrigerators must be labeled with all the technical details.
2. Store all materials appropriately
Your lab’s refrigerator can record the best performance as long as the air flow within them remains unobstructed. The use of shelving systems not only ensures optimal use of available storage space, but also helps to ensure correct air flow.
In addition, these systems further facilitate the location of samples and enable the orderly stacking of containers and boxes. In this way, the time that the refrigerator door remains open is reduced to a minimum.
You should also avoid storing materials on top of your laboratory refrigerator, especially if it is a top-ventilated unit. This could trap the hot air inside the area, forcing the compressor to work longer to maintain the proper storage temperature. By avoiding this, you could reduce energy costs and increase the life of the compressor.
3. Keep door gaskets clean
The gasket is usually designed to create an airtight seal on all edges of the refrigerator door. It prevents cold air from leaving the chambers and hot air from entering. In particular, ultra-low refrigerators are fitted as standard with exterior door gaskets. However, your unit may also have the same for interior doors. This helps maintain uniform temperatures within the internal components of the unit.
Check that all door joints do not leak, and can be easily detected by the accumulation of ice at weak points. In addition, you should clean them with a soft cloth to remove any dirt or dust that may compromise their overall performance. This way, you can easily avoid the effects of having a faulty gasket.
4. Regularly remove ice or frost
By repeatedly opening the refrigerator door to remove or store material, ice or frost may build up. As a result, this can limit the movement of the outer door and may not seal properly. Therefore, we recommend that you periodically inspect the door seals and seals to detect a buildup of frost.
To keep the accumulation of ice to a minimum, always try to get samples in and out of the appliance as quickly as possible. In addition, you can scrape the accumulated ice off the door seals regularly and make sure no ice builds up on the interior doors. In case you need to remove old stocks and materials within the unit, you can take this opportunity to unfreeze all equipment. But always remember not to use the ice pick when defrosting.
5. Care of the coils
Another crucial maintenance practice is the aspiration of capacitor coils located in the exterior parts. But how do you determine the right time to do it? The best time is probably now. The coils must be kept clean at all times, free of accumulated dust, or any other material that may hinder the intended heat exchange.
Many coils look dirty, and this may be because most people don’t know that they should clean them as well.
When it comes to cooling, one thing to do is to keep the coil clean to ensure that your cooling unit works as designed. Dirt- and dust-prone coils can lead to higher energy cost and shorter unit life. Therefore, an additional effort to clean them could greatly contribute to your laboratory’s cooling needs now, and in the long term.
6. Cleaning on the fly
Cleaning can also extend the life of your lab fridge. While working from one shelf to another, inventorying and throwing away the useless, make sure you have a cleaning cloth or towel handy to clean all the shelves. Do the same with the shelves and refrigerator walls.
It is preferable to moisten the cloth with warm water to remove crumbs and clean spills from walls and shelves. In addition, a multipurpose cleaner could make things easier and take care of spills and sticky stains without much effort.
7. Extend the life of your unit
If reading this article makes you feel like you haven’t done much in terms of caring for your lab’s refrigerator, don’t worry. All it has to do now is established a maintenance strategy that incorporates conservation, space management and sample management. You can also hire a service provider if you don’t have enough time for all these maintenance practices. In this way, you can be sure that the appliances are properly maintained and will continue to operate for longer.
Laboratory refrigerators contain expensive reagents, irreplaceable samples and several months or years of research. Therefore, it must treat them with the well-deserved respect and perform simple preventive maintenance practices. This way, you can rest assured that these crucial pieces of laboratory equipment will serve you reliably for years to come.
We hope that this small article has provided you with some information of interest.
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