Creating works of art out of old refrigerators (above and below) is one way to keep inefficient refrigerators that could be safety hazards out of circulation without having to send them to the junk heap.

Creating works of art out of old refrigerators is one way to keep inefficient refrigerators that could be safety hazards out of circulation without having to send them to the junk heap. That seems to be one reason why a public utility - Commonwealth Edison - commissioned artists to use old refrigerators - some from the ’50s and ’60s - as artistic statements.

I’m not going to pretend to understand what the artists were trying to “say” but the project - which included three “statements” at a children’s museum (The Discovery Center of Rockford, Ill.) near where I live - did bring out important points about efficiency and environmental awareness; and, for me, safety.

The nameplates at the bottom of each artwork gave long titles for the works and the artists’ names, but also noted that much newer refrigeration equipment is a whole heck of a lot more energy efficient. Getting rid of the oldies makes a lot of sense for any piece of HVACR equipment.

And obviously a work of art is not going to end up in some landfill or junk yard - which has to make environmentalists happy.

The safety issue strikes home for me. For many years the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society Auxiliary (RSESA) had a campaign called TOD (Take off The Doors) encouraging contractors who came across old decommissioned refrigerators to remove the doors before placing them at curbside for eventual pickup and disposal. Those old refrigerators latched and the tragic problem was that children would sometimes play in them, get caught if the door latched and suffocate. (Frankly I have a similar concern for the newer refrigerators. Even though the doors can be pushed open from the inside, it might not be all that easy for a small, scared child.)

The old refrigerators at the museum had the doors securely sealed shut, and the artwork also securely wrapped around the entire exteriors.

So, here’s the deal. I went to look at the refrigerator artwork because I’m a refrigeration guy and I was curious. I ended up being more aware than ever about the need for safety in dealing with any piece of equipment - for both service technicians and end-users.

I hope any of us who is near a piece of HVACR equipment thinks safety first and foremost.

Publication date: 12/06/2010