clear ice

The Importance of Maintaining your Ice Machine

By far, one of the most important and crucial things for anyone who owns or operates an ice machine to remember, whether it be a refurbished ice machine, used ice machine or even a new one, is to keep the equipment well-maintained and clean. A disciplined maintenance schedule and proper cleaning will not only eliminate the need for possible otherwise unnecessary repairs and malfunctions but will also greatly increase the ice machine’s efficiency and prevent customer complaints as well.
Far too many owners or operators of commercial ice machines are not aware of how to properly maintain and/or clean their equipment. They often ignore the warning signs of a machine in need of cleaning and maintenance. Having a scheduled cleaning date is extremely important and makes for a much easier resolution for preventive maintenance regarding potential issues and complications. When scheduling is not possible or if you and your employees simply forget, there are ways of knowing when your ice machine might need a thorough cleaning or scheduled maintenance.

  • Dirty Ice: Before calling the million dollar per hour repairman or manufacturer for service, first try cleaning the air-filter and walls in the ice chamber with a neutral cleaner and ensure you rinse the equipment vigorously to ensure no unpleasant smell or taste becomes present within the ice
  • Ice Melts too Rapidly: This too can easily be attributed to an unclean ice machine and/or working parts. Clean air filter and all other areas as you would in the event of dirty ice, however, check to ensure fans are functioning properly and are not caked with dust, fuzz or foreign contaminants. Clean fan completely and ensure it is working as efficiently as possible. Clean the interior walls and pay special attention to the seals around all openings leading to the ice chamber itself. It is possible your machine only needs cleaning, but just as likely replacing seals and/or lubricating the ice machine’s fan and working parts could do the trick.
  • Ice Lacks a Consistent Uniformity: Again, cleaning the entire machine is a solution to most common complications with commercial ice machines. Often, hard water or mineral deposits, algae and even mud can become present within the ice machine’s inner working parts and along the interior walls. This could easily explain most of the issues concerning irregular ice, melting too fast or its inconsistent shape and size.

When cleaning and performing basic or even the most seemingly mundane maintenance of your commercial ice machine, it is important to also properly remove the ice and prepare the machine for its scheduled cleaning/maintenance.

  1. Wearing sanitary plastic/rubber gloves and using a clean plastic scoop/spoon, remove all ice within the ice machine’s inner chamber.
  2. Unplug the ice machine and gently pull away from walls or enclosures.
  3. Disconnect water supply.
  4. Allow any ice frozen along walls etc. to completely melt and remove the water with a wet/dry vacuum and/or properly dry with sanitary towel. This process is much easier if adjust the leveling of the machine in order for the water to pool in one end.
  5. Remove water filter cartridge and check to see if it is time to replace.
  6. An air hose or vacuum cleaner can be used to clear out any dust collected in and around fans and air filters.
  7. Depending on model of ice machine, such as self-cleaning models, the sensor might be tripped in cleaning mode rather than “ice producing” mode. Ensure the sensors are in correct placement and tighten the screw if it appears loose.
  8. Check the water valve and pressure settings. Too much, or too little, PSI can greatly impact the ice production and even cause blockages when ice begins forming inside the lines or valve itself.

While all these things should be routine in your ice machine’s maintenance schedule, they might also be exhausted prior to calling a repairman. While the repairman will understandably be more than happy to clean and maintain your commercial ice machine; the fees charged will be considerably greater than the time you or your employee spends ensuring your machine functions as intended.

By Daniel Hirsch