Bottle coolers, also known as a bottle fridge or back bar cooler, are great until they breakdown. A lot of calls to refrigeration companies could be prevented by carrying out some simple preventative maintenance procedures.
The most common cause of breakdown is dust in the condenser blocking the air flow Just by cleaning the condenser on your bottle cooler will also make it last longer, consume less energy and chill faster. Here is a step by step guide to the procedure with an Osborne bottle cooler . It takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. Scroll down for Autonumis and Gamko Bottle coolers.
- 1. Switch off the cooler and remove the bottles.
- 2. Unplug from the mains socket
- 3. Pull the unit out so that you can access the back plate.
- 4. Unscrew the rear cover plate and remove.
- 5. This will expose the condenser, compressor, fan motor and so on.
- 6.Brush clean in the direction of the fins, using the vacuum to collect the dust.
- 7. Vacuum up any debris
- 8. Clean as much of the area as you can get, taking care not to damage or bend the delicate components
- 9. Never use water!
- 10. Put the rear cover plate back and replace the screws.
- 11. Put the plug back in the socket.
- 12. Switch back on.
It should look like this after you clean your bottle cooler!
Enjoy the cool drinks and don’t forget to do this again in three months time.
Autonumis Bottle coolers
Proceed as before up to step 5.
Exposing the condenser – this time it’s horizontally mounted.
Important – Look at the fan blade colour. If the blade is black, as above, the fan blows air down through the condenser, if its white the fan sucks air up through the condenser. The direction of airflow affects where the dust collects on the condenser. In black fan’s case, the dust will be below the fan. Remove the two screws on the fan bracket, and slide the fan motor out.
Clean the blade with a damp cloth.
Gently vacuum the condenser from the top – being careful not to damage the delicate aluminium fins.
Finally vacuum the rest of the space and reassemble. For white bladed fans, brush and vacuum the bottom of the condenser by gently leaning the cabinet 30 degrees forward.
Whichever Autonumis cooler you have, never move with a sack truck as this damages the condenser which is on the base of the cabinet.
Gamko bottle coolers
These coolers do not have the traditional finned condenser, instead they have a very long coiled tube running the entire width of the cabinet. The one below is at step 5, with the back panel removed.
Pick out the dust bunnies moving towards the front of the cabinet. Where the condenser tube coil is, it’s best to ‘hook out’ the dust with a long screwdriver.
Other Bottle Cooler faults
Other faults are less terminal. A badly set thermostat will hold the compressor on too long, causing the back of the cooler to ice up. Just switch off, defrost with the doors open, set the thermostat higher and switch back on. A faulty thermostat will hold the compressor off, so no cooling. If you are not hearing the plant running, this is probably why. Unplug, call the engineer.
Broken door seals make the cooler work that much harder. It’s a waste of energy and also causes icing up at the back of the cooler. All cooler manufacturers provide replacement seals, if you have lost your manual, just Google the make for the telephone number. Some seals are push in, but the majority require unscrewing the seal frame. All are relatively easy, if time consuming to do. The only painful one I know of is Cornelius, as they seem to keep swapping manufacturers overseas so you are never sure you have the right one until you fit it. Make sure you pass on the model and serial number when ordering, then there are no problems if they have to be returned.
Lights – again the manual will tell you how to replace these, but generally they are florescent tubes under a perspex cover. usually the cover is held on by four or six screws, and the tube is in a holder that allows it to be turned 90 degrees to slide it out. Don’t bother looking to your local DIY shop for a replacement, take your old tube direct to an electrical wholesaler like City Electrical Factors, where they hold more variety in stock. With the falling price of LED’s more manufacturers are installing these as the main lighting. As they last longer than the life of the bottle cooler, and don’t heat in the refrigerated space, they are really made for this job. They run on a small transformer, the only weak link in the system, but easily replaced. Osborne 4000 series have LED’s fitted as standard.
Jes Shotter works out of Hailsham trading as JS Refrigeration servicing refrigeration equipment also installing cellar cooling for Carlsberg, Scottish & Newcastle and Heineken Breweries and are the main refrigeration contractors for Harvey’s Brewery.