Man reading manual

Troubleshooting: What To Do When Something Has Gone Wrong In Your Wine Cellar

By: Russ Warner, Technical Support Manager

Even though most of us know better, we are all guilty now and again of failing to read instructional manuals. We put things together with a false sense of confidence and get frustrated when they don’t function properly and we may even resort to blaming the manufacturer for poor design. Putting together inexpensive furniture without a manual is one thing. Selecting and installing a wine cellar cooling unit is another. In fact, getting a cooling unit to work properly can be particularly insidious, because it has the potential to fail before it has even been installed. Fortunately, armed with some basic information on how these systems operate, you can avoid the common pitfalls that derail wine cellar owners and their contractors. This knowledge might even empower you to undo mistakes that arose from failing to read the fine print.

Temperature

My Wine Room Is Not Cold Enough

I often hear from customers who are worried that their wine cellars are not cold enough. For a wine cooling unit of any type and size to function well, it has to run for a minimum of 48 hours. As long as cold air is entering the wine space through the supply grille and warm air is blowing from the condenser side of the unit, the system just needs more time to do its job. Another common issue is that the temperature has not been set to the desired setpoint. In other words, customers have to manually set the temperature for the room to be cold enough (see below for details on how to do that).

One thing that can’t be easily remedied is if a cooling unit is too small for the space. Even if a system runs continuously, it may not be powerful enough to ever cool the room adequately.

Humidity

Too Humid

There are several factors that may contribute to high humidity levels in a wine room. If you purchased and installed the optional humidifier, water from the humidifier should be seen going down the drain indicating that it is running. If water is not present, it may simply mean that the humidifier needs to be turned on. Another common oversight is not setting the humidifier set point low enough, which will result in the humidity being higher in the room than it should be.

If you did not purchase a humidifier, humidity is likely coming into the space through an external source. Leaks around doorways and ductwork may be the culprit. In especially humid climates, a dehumidifier will combat the moisture.

The absence of a vapor barrier is one of those problems that may have originated before installation happened. The sole purpose of a vapor barrier is to stabilize moisture levels within the space. If your humidity levels are inexplicably high, it may be due to shoddy construction and/or no vapor barrier. A solution will need to be identified or else a wine collection will be vulnerable to mold.

Not Humid Enough

The most common reason customers contact tech support about low humidity levels is because they neglected to adjust the settings to add a humidifier—setting 6 to be exact. This lets the system know whether there is a humidifier connected to the unit or not and whether the humidifier is integrated to the cooling unit or a standalone remote one.

The other reason for low levels is because the humidity is lower than the setpoint, which can be fixed by raising the humidity setpoint. If water is visibly going down the drain from the humidifier, indicating that it is on, we advise customers to allow additional run time to increase humidity levels.

Cycling On & Off

My Wine Guardian Unit Won’t Turn Off

Wine Guardian units may need to run for a full 48 hours before they reach their set temperature. If customers have let their unit run for at least two full days and it hasn’t yet stopped running, it may be indicative of poor construction. If doors are not sealed and the space hasn’t been properly constructed to be airtight, the system will have to run constantly to maintain the correct temperature.

Some customers install an independent thermometer in the room. If the unit display does not come within one degree of the remote sensor, the Wine Guardian thermostat may need to be calibrated.

My Wine Guardian Unit Won’t Turn On

If the screen is blank on any Wine Guardian unit, the system may simply need to be turned on. If the screen is lighted, there are a handful of reasons why the machine may not be engaging. First, in addition to the main power switch, the thermostat also needs to be turned on. Second, if the temperature set point is above the actual wine room temperature, the unit does not need to run. When the temperature in the room goes up, the unit will automatically start running. Lastly, if the unit is on (but not running) an alarm icon appears on the display it can indicate that one of two potential actions must be taken. Either the high pressure switch or the condensate switch needs to be manually reset.

The most common reason the pressure becomes too high is from restricted airflow. The unit will stop running if dirt or an obstruction blocks a grille or duct. To protect the compressor from too much pressure, the unit shuts down. Identify and remedy the cause before restarting the cooling unit.

If the temperature in the room is not above the setpoint in the wine room, it may be that the system has not been set to “cooling” or “auto” mode. Resetting these modes will often get the unit going again.

How Do I Change The Temperature

If you are unable to read the full instructional manual for your Wine Guardian cooling unit, we have available a quick guide to learn how to manually change the temperature, humidity setpoints, and settings (heating, cooling, or automatic). If you are inclined to visual learning, these video instructions cover the basics on how to utilize your remote interface controller.

The Wrong Unit

Unfortunately, our tech support team periodically fields questions from customers when it is too late. An all-too-common mistake is calculating the heat load based exclusively on the volume of the wine room. They installed the wrong unit or placed the right one in the wrong place, because they didn’t read the fine print or conduct a thorough heat calculation.

In a perfect world, we would all read instructional manuals cover-to-cover to ensure we have selected the right unit for the space, we have installed it properly and learned how to use our new cooling units. When that isn’t possible, for whatever reason, we hope this guide empowers you to better understand your wine cooling system. We understand how important it is to protect your prized wine collection and no matter your concern, Wine Guardian is always here to support you.