Is Ice Build Up turning your Freezer Room floor into an Ice Rink and posing a huge health and safety risk?

Ask yourself:

  • Is there ice build-up in your freezer store?
  • Have you checked areas in your freezer store where warm most air could possible leak in and form ice?
  • Is the ice difficult to remove?
  • Has your staff used forceful methods possibly damaging your freezer store floors and walls?
  • Does the ice interfere with the day-to-day functioning of your freezer store and threatening the safety of the staff?

If you have answered yes to these questions, it indicates that you are faced with an ice build-up problem, which is not a good thing.

Where does it all start?

Icing most commonly occurs when the doors are left open for long periods of time and the strip curtains are damaged. Another instance is when taking stock in a freezer store the evaporator fans are turned off and the door(s) left open. This provides more comfort for the stock takers but causes another problem in mobile racked stores. Just a few microns of ice on the rails results in the wheels turning but the mobile bases refusing to move.

Close your cold store doors when doing stock take to prevent ice build formation

When air humidity is high, the warm moist air enters the cold room door, but relatively heavy cold dry air flows out at the bottom. With the fans off, the moisture in the air tends to move to the coldest place which is the racking and the floor. Steel mobile racking wheels have a sufficient co-efficient of friction with the steel rails in the floor to move even when heavily loaded.

Factors that contribute to ice-build up

  • Leaving doors open with no or broken strip curtains
  • Malfunctioning drip trays
  • Gaps in insulated panels
  • When incoming product has surface moisture
  • Damaged sprinkler heads

In serious cases with mobiles the solution is to scrape the rails with wire brushes, especially those which support driven wheels to provide the necessary traction. This is a frustrating exercise but if one closes the door, turns on the fans and runs the refrigeration system with a low suction pressure, the mobiles will probably move more easily the next day. This happens because the thin ice sheet on the floor sublimates to the evaporators as they will now be colder than the floor.

Why is ice build-up a hazard?

  • Personal safety
  • Damage to the product especially from drip trays and sprinklers
  • Ice build-up interferes with movement of mobiles slipping and thick ice can stop movement
  • As ice migrates to the evaporators it insulates them making their performance inefficient

 How do you solve the problem?

Long term solutions include capital investment – see some options below. Personnel must be encouraged to keep the door (s) closed and look out for ice build ups in their early stages and getting rid of them quickly before they become icebergs.

Changing behavior of operational personnel working in the freezer store around the potential consequences i.e. safety risks, and the negative impact injuries can have on peoples’ lives.

Below we are addressing key areas that can solve ice build-up:

1. High Speed doors

High Speed doors and/or double doors / curtains to create an airlock between dispatch area & freezer store to moderate the temperature change & avoid condensation


2. Dehumidifiers

Dehumidifying air entering the freezer store can make significant savings in power consumption.

With the installation of a high-speed cloth door inside the freezer entrance and the combination of and an interior airlock with dehumidifier exerts a positive air pressure.

This keeps the cold air from escaping and the warm moist air from entering the store. There is no ice build-up or mist in the doorway.

3. Pallet Conveyors

Pallet conveyors can be used to transport pallets in and out of the freezer with high speed doors as opposed to reach trucks or fork trucks continuously moving in and out of freezer.

The entrance door size is therefore reduced. An air dryer should be used in its application as well.

What are the benefits of removing the ice build-up?

  •  No frost and ice at cold store entrances
  •  Prevention of ice build-up on evaporator coils
  • Less damage to stock
  • The loading dock area will be free from fog and slippery floors
  •  Visibility and grip are improved for people and forklifts, avoiding potentially expensive accident claims
  • Reducing the frequency and need for defrosting, giving major savings on energy and improving plant efficiency
  • Less ice means reductions in costly repairs to doors
  • No more chipping away ice from evaporator coils, walls, and floors

Alternative option (although not a cure)

Using an environmentally friendly product from Barpro i.e. I-Smelt which is used in freezer and chill stores to melt ice 10 times faster than salt. It is a white powder that reduces the ice to slush allowing for easy removal ice that damages the concrete surfaces. I-Smelt is packed in waterproof containers and is available in quantities ranging from 2kg to 25kg. “I-Smelt is such a simple and effective product’ Rick Du Toit, Vector Logistics”

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There is no reason to let ice build-up become a safety, costly and productivity problem in your operation. If you need additional advice or wish to order Ice melt, please contact us.