To ensure that refrigerated containers can perform their function in perfect conditions, they must undergo continuous maintenance and gradual inspections.

These two aspects will be the focus of our attention in the following lines, and it is important for you to familiarize yourself with them if you deal with or plan to deal with these types of containers.

What is a refrigerated container?

Refrigerated containers (also known as reefer containers) are transport containers specifically designed to carry perishable goods that require a controlled temperature during transportation.

They are built with insulated panels and have an incorporated cooling system that allows them to maintain a specific temperature inside, regardless of external conditions.

In addition to being insulated, they have a tightly sealed door to prevent the entry of outside air and maintain a constant temperature. They also have a ventilation system that ensures air circulates evenly throughout the container, as well as a temperature control system that can be adjusted according to the specific needs of the cargo.

Refrigerated containers are an ideal choice for transporting perishable goods such as food and pharmaceutical products, as they can maintain a constant and controlled temperature throughout the journey.

Why is the maintenance of refrigerated containers important?

Subjecting refrigerated containers to proper regular maintenance is essential to ensure that the cooling system functions correctly and that the cargo is kept at a constant and safe temperature throughout the journey.

There are two primary types of maintenance: preventive and corrective.

Preventive maintenance refers to carrying out regular and planned maintenance activities to prevent potential future failures.

This may include regular cleaning of the container, replacement of defective parts, and constant monitoring of the cooling system.

By regularly performing preventive maintenance, costly downtime and unplanned repairs can be avoided.

Corrective maintenance, on the other hand, addresses problems that have already occurred.

Being reactive rather than preventive, it is usually more expensive and takes more time to resolve.

Statistics show that containers that do not receive regular and proper maintenance are much more likely to experience problems that lead to corrective maintenance.

Consistently maintaining reefer containers brings several notable benefits. Firstly, it extends the container’s lifespan, reducing the need for frequent replacements. Additionally, it ensures the cargo remains in optimal condition and minimizes the risk of damage during transportation. This aspect is particularly crucial for the safe transport of perishable or high-value products.

Why do refrigerated containers get damaged?

Over time, refrigerated containers may experience various issues.

Regular inspection and constant maintenance will prevent these problems from affecting the proper functioning of the cooling system and, consequently, the quality of the transported products.

Factors that can cause damage to refrigerated containers

There are several factors that can cause damage to refrigerated containers, some of them are:

Temperature variations:

Extreme temperature fluctuations can disrupt the cooling system, potentially compromising product preservation.


High levels of humidity can cause corrosion in the container’s structure, damage electronic components of the cooling system, and affect the quality of the transported products.


Bumps and shocks during transit can result in structural cracks, reducing insulation capabilities and energy efficiency.

Electrical system failures

Issues with the electrical system can disrupt the cooling system’s functionality and cause component malfunctions.

Consequences of not conducting proper maintenance

The lack of reefer container maintenance can have severe consequences on the quality of the transported products, as well as generate additional costs for the carrier. Some of the consequences of not conducting proper maintenance are:

Loss of product quality

Lack of maintenance in the cooling system can cause temperature and humidity changes in the container, affecting the quality of the transported products.

Malfunctions in the cooling system

Inadequate maintenance can lead to malfunctions in the cooling system, resulting in additional costs for repair and component replacement.

Delivery Delays

Container malfunctions can cause delays in product delivery, leading to additional costs and affecting customer satisfaction.

Types of repairs and inspections required for reefer containers

Reefer containers often require repairs for similar issues. Here are the five most common types of repairs:

Leak Repair

Reefer containers can experience refrigerant leaks that affect their performance and the quality of the stored products. This repair involves locating and sealing the leak and recharging the refrigerant.

Panel Replacement

If a container panel is damaged, it can lead to air leaks that affect the internal temperature. The replacement of damaged panels is a common repair to maintain the container’s integrity.

Electrical System Repair

The electrical system is a critical component of reefer containers. If the electrical system fails, it can result in a cooling system shutdown and loss of stored products. Electrical components can fail due to reasons such as overload or connection failure. The repair involves identifying and replacing the damaged components.

Compressor Replacement

The compressor is the crucial part of the refrigeration system. If the compressor fails, the refrigeration process stops, and the interior temperature rises. If any issue is detected with the compressor, it should be promptly replaced.

Refrigeration System Maintenance

Regular maintenance of the refrigeration system helps prevent costly breakdowns. This maintenance includes cleaning coils, changing filters, and checking electrical connections. Additionally, periodic preventive maintenance should be performed to ensure the proper functioning of the refrigeration system and avoid serious issues in the future.

How should a reefer container be maintained?

As mentioned earlier, maintaining a reefer container in good condition is crucial for ensuring the proper functioning of the equipment and, consequently, the quality of the cargo being transported inside.

Here are some guidelines that can help keep a reefer container in good condition:

Regular Inspections

Regular inspections of reefer containers are essential to detect any problems, such as refrigerant leaks, panel damage, or electrical system issues. It is advisable to perform inspections before and after each trip to identify any issues that may affect the cargo.

Cleaning and Disinfection

Keeping the container clean and disinfected is also crucial to prevent the proliferation of bacteria and other microorganisms that can affect the cargo’s quality. It is essential to clean and disinfect the container after each use and before loading new merchandise.

Temperature Control

Controlling the container’s temperature is key to ensuring that it remains within the appropriate range for the transported cargo. This involves installing thermometers and visible indicators that can be monitored by the transporter at all times, as well as ensuring their proper maintenance.

Inspection of Electrical Systems

The container’s electrical systems are vital for maintaining the proper temperature inside. Regularly checking the compressor and fans is crucial to ensure they are functioning correctly.

Panel Care

The container’s panels play a crucial role in maintaining the proper temperature inside. Taking care of them will prevent damage that could affect the container’s ability to maintain the appropriate temperature.

Pre-trip inspection: What to look out for

The pre-trip inspection is a crucial part of reefer container maintenance.

Before shipping a reefer container, it is essential to conduct a thorough inspection to avoid potential issues during transportation.

  • Temperature verification is one of the most important aspects of the inspection. It is necessary to check that the container’s internal temperature is within the appropriate range for the transported product. If the temperature is too high or too low, measures must be taken to adjust it before shipping.
  • Another factor to consider during the inspection is the condition of the panels and the container floor. It is necessary to check for any damage or cracks that may affect the container’s integrity or its ability to maintain the proper temperature.
  • Electrical and refrigeration connections should also be inspected before shipping. It is essential to verify that all connections are secure and in good working condition to ensure that the refrigeration system functions properly during transportation.
  • Additionally, the container must be clean and disinfected before shipping. This is especially important if transporting food or pharmaceutical products that require a sanitary environment.
  • Finally, checking the container’s tightness is necessary to ensure that there are no leaks or air entries that could affect the container’s internal temperature during transportation. If any problems are detected during the pre-trip inspection, measures should be taken to correct them before shipping the container.

Preventing damage to reefer containers

Preventing damage to reefer containers is essential to ensure that products arrive in optimal conditions at their final destination. Some of the most important measures to prevent possible damage to reefer containers are:

Use reefer container shipping companies you can trust

It is important to work with trusted and experienced reefer container transport companies. Renowned transport companies usually have trained personnel specialized in the maintenance and care of reefer containers.

Take out insurance for your shipments

Another significant measure is to contract insurance that covers possible damages that may occur during transportation. A good insurance policy for refrigerated cargo shipments can cover damages caused by delays, temperature fluctuations, moisture damage, among others.

👉 Secure your shipping container with this mini guide

Find the best reefer containers with BOXXPORT

BOXXPORT is a leading online company in the container trading sector, specializing in buying and selling various types of containers, including reefer containers.

Among the many advantages of working with a professional service like BOXXPORT are:

  • Wide Selection of High-Quality Refrigerated Containers: On our online platform, you can find a wide selection of refrigerated containers available for purchase, including standard containers, 40-foot reefers, 20-foot reefers, and specialized containers for products such as meat and fruits.
  • Competitive Prices: Thanks to our transparent platform, you can buy containers at competitive prices.
  • Fast Delivery: BOXXPORT is committed to delivering reefer containers as quickly as possible.
  • Quality Customer Service: Our team of experts is always ready to provide excellent customer service, offering assistance and guidance on all your inquiries.

Contact us for more information about buying and selling refrigerated containers or any other type of containers.