For grocery stores, power outages or mechanical breakdowns can cause huge problems. Without power for refrigeration units, certain stock such as meat products, are lost after only a few hours. Without power for lights and cash registers, your store must close. After the power returns, refrigeration equipment can suffer major damage if it is not restarted properly. If all units try to restart at once, it may result in the units running on single-phase instead of three-phase power, resulting in breakdowns of the compressor units. Here are some tips on how to reduce your chances for loss in the event of a power outage or mechanical breakdown.


Power Outages

The average Canadian will experience roughly 2.5 power outages a year, which could range from a few seconds to hours. In order to mitigate the effects of a power outage, businesses should create an emergency shutdown and start up plan that can be executed in the event of a power outage. Emergency shutdown and start up procedures can be set up with a local electrician who can also be reached if the power fails.

  1. Prevent loss of sales data by powering down cash registers and computer systems while there is power available from the battery backups.
  2. Move all meats and perishables to freezers and coolers, keeping doors closed as much as possible.
  3. Seal doors to preserve the temperatures as long as possible.
  4. Turn off circuit breakers for all the refrigeration systems and main lighting circuits to prevent damage when power returns.
  5. Arrange for refrigerated trucks to be brought in (if available) if power outage lasts for more than an hour.
  6. When power is restored, refrigeration units should be turned back on one unit at a time to allow each unit to fully power up before turning on the next unit.


Mechanical Breakdowns

Refrigeration units run continuously under heavy loads. This continuous use can put a lot of strain on your machines, increasing the chance of breakdowns. One of the main issues with refrigeration systems is that they tend to produce a large amount of heat and therefore can breakdown due to overheating. Compressors in enclosed rooms may need additional ventilation during very hot, humid weather. A failure of even one exhaust fan can result in overheating and possible failure of compressors. Roof top units may need additional cooling from water sprinklers.

  1. Ensure that compressor rooms are clean and free of dirt and debris.
  2. Check compressor room temperatures regularly during very hot weather. (Provide additional ventilation to keep temperature down.)
  3. Install excess temperature alarms in the compressor rooms.
  4. Arrange for a full-service preventative maintenance contract – this can greatly reduce the chances of compressor failure (especially on older units).
  5. Install monitored refrigeration alarms that will notify the alarm company when temperatures rise in the units. This will provide time to take steps to preserve stock before it spoils.
  6. Set up and post procedures to deal with power outages, breakdowns and start-ups.


For more information on how to manage power outages or mechanical breakdowns at your business, please contact one of our risk management professionals. While risk management strategies can reduce your chances for loss, in the event of a loss it is important to ensure your business has the right level of insurance coverage. Visit our TotalProtect Commercial Insurance page to learn how we can help protect your business.


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