Sometimes, the simplest solution can be the most effective in achieving a desired result. For example, take the humble gasket. You might think it’s nothing more than a strip of rubber. That’s true, but within that modest and unassuming ribbon of latex lies a key component to your energy efficiency strategy – especially if your business is a supermarket or restaurant that relies heavily on refrigeration equipment.
In an age when everyone is focusing on the latest technology to help reduce energy costs, a device as “old school” as a gasket can be easily overlooked. A gasket forms a seal between the door of the refrigeration equipment – whether it’s a cold beverage display case in a convenience store or a walk-in freezer in a supermarket – to keep the cooled air inside the unit and prevent warm air from seeping in. More than anything besides the door itself, the gasket is the single most important line of protection in ensuring the equipment’s efficient operation. Here are some things to keep in mind about the gaskets on your refrigerators or freezers:
- Gaskets can save more than energy: Food stays fresher longer in refrigerated cases that maintain a steady temperature, so store owners can reduce their losses from food spoilage. In freezer units, keeping out warm air prevents ice crystals from forming on ice cream and other frozen foods. Tight-fitting gaskets can also save you money by extending the life of your refrigeration equipment, since motors and compressors will run less often and for shorter periods if warm air is kept out of the unit.
- Gaskets can wear out quickly: The constant opening and closing of refrigerator and freezer cases causes gaskets to lose their suction and wear out much faster than the other parts of the equipment. While refrigeration unit motors and compressors can operate efficiently for many years, gaskets are likely to weaken and tear after only a few years.
- Inspect your gaskets regularly: Conduct a visual inspection of all your gaskets frequently, looking for holes and cracks. Also, make sure that the gasket isn’t separating from the door frame. You can use a dollar bill to test the seal of your gaskets: Close the door on the bill and see if it pulls out easily. If it does, the seal isn’t tight enough and the gasket should be replaced. The presence of frost on shelves or food products is also a tell-tale sign of worn gaskets.
- Repair or replace gaskets as needed: If your gaskets are showing signs of wear or aren’t sealing tightly, it’s time to get them fixed or replaced. You’re not saving any money by delaying that bit of maintenance. In fact, each day you delay will cost you more in energy and food spoilage.
Even if your business doesn’t rely on refrigeration, gaskets can play a role in reducing your energy costs. Doors that separate your business’s interior space from the outdoors can be fitted with gaskets to help keep warm air out in summer and cold air out in winter – all while easing the load on your HVAC system.
So, show some love to the gasket – a low-tech piece of equipment that can have a big impact on your business’ energy costs.