Hot Weather Precautions for Laboratory Refrigerators

Hot weather can cause lots of damage to cold items.

Hot weather can cause lots of damage to cold items.

Unprecedented heat waves across much of the country place strains on laboratory refrigerators and laboratory freezers even if they are in air conditioned research labs and medical facilities.  Power cutbacks and power failures due to excessive strain on the power grid and electrical storms should be anticipated by lab personnel. Provision should be made to protect costly or rare biological samples, vaccines, and other temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals and products.

10 Tips on Proper Lab Fridge and Lab Freezer Operation

Your organization should have standard operating procedures for stocking and maintaining laboratory refrigerators and freezers.  These are especially important when atmospheric conditions could lead to sub-par performance.  Here are some useful tips to help ensure content protection in medical grade refrigerators and freezers during the dog days of summer.  Or anytime for that matter. They are not listed in order of importance because all are important.

  1. Minimize access to the units.  Every time a scientific refrigerator or scientific freezer door is opened ambient air intrudes and puts a strain on the compressor.
  2.  Keep interiors filled.  Full medical freezers and refrigerators operate more efficiently.  Use freezer packs and water bottles to fill unused space.
  3. But not too full.  Packed interiors inhibit circulation of refrigerated air.
  4. Storing content on door shelves and bins is not a good idea.  Use the space for freezer packs or water bottles.
  5. Don’t crowd the units or stack paraphernalia on the top. Follow manufacturers’ instructions on positioning their units – such as a minimum 4 inches at the top, back and sides to allow ambient air to circulate.
  6. Clean condenser tubing and fins (and filters if the unit is so equipped) on a regular basis as dust inhibits efficient operation.
  7. Check door seals for leakage and take action if necessary.
  8. Test the high/low temperature alarming system on a regular basis.
  9. Log unit temperatures at the beginning and end of the day.
  10. Have a backup plan in case of a power outage.  If you do not have an emergency generator make provisions for quick transfer of contents to operating units.

Laboratory refrigerators and freezers such as Nor-Lake and other brands available from Tovatech have several options in temperature control, display and alarming. But even the most sophisticated of these are not immune to malfunctions, as described in our blog post on how a major failure of backup systems caused severe loss at the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center.

Paying attention is the best insurance against loss.  Contact the lab refrigerator and freezer experts at Tovatech for help in selecting and operating equipment best-suited to your needs.

About Rachel Kohn

So how did an MIT Ph.D. end up selling refrigerators? When I figured out that a lot more scientists buy lab refrigerators than innovative leading-edge instruments. I hope that my many years of lab experience will help you find the right equipment for your work. Before co-founding Tovatech I worked in business development and project management at Smiths Detection, Photon-X, Cardinal Health, and Hoechst Celanese. And before that I spent 12 years as an R&D chemist at Hoechst Celanese and Aventis working on advanced drug delivery systems, polymer films and membranes, optical disks, and polysaccharides. Some day, eventually, I’ll make enough money to develop an innovative technology that will change the world. Read More