Really, the above headline isn’t as odd as it sounds. My daughter and her family were planning a visit, which meant I had to make some plans of my own - like house cleaning. One thing led to another, and I had pulled and pushed the refrigerator out of its space to sweep the floor behind it. That’s when I realized I had not once cleaned the coils in the six years since I bought it. Considering thatProcess Cooling preaches “maintenance, maintenance, maintenance,” I got down to business.

Actually, at first I thought there was some new “self-dusting” design because there weren’t any exposed coils like those on my past refrigerators. But, of course, no such luck - or more accurately, no such invention. I had to unscrew a cardboard panel covering the coils.

I have a galley kitchen, which didn’t give me a lot of room to maneuver. I had squeezed myself into the tight space behind the refrigerator, and then I had to squeeze out again to hunt down the right size and type screwdriver. Squatting, with little elbow room, I unscrewed six screws. Fighting the lack of space, I hand-vacuumed the coils. One screw dropped, rolled and wedged itself under the refrigerator. That meant squeezing out again to get a long-handled something - in this case, a ruler in a kitchen drawer. I worked out the screw, climbed out of the space - again - and rolled the refrigerator back. Done. Finally.

So, now I’m thinking about all of you out there who operate industrial refrigeration systems. How easy - or tough - do manufacturers make your maintenance job? I know that a lot of companies tout the ease with which their equipment can be accessed for cleaning. But is it true?

Can you get to the parts that need care? With the high cost of equipment, tight economy and minimal personnel, the least you can demand of your capital equipment is a normal lifespan, which requires regular maintenance.

Let me know. If enough of you have serious complaints - and be specific, please - we’ll write up a piece for the magazine to let manufacturers know they have some additional work to do. I’m at armela@bnpmedia.com.

  Anne Armel, Group Publisher, armela@bnpmedia.com