Ice Machine Care

  1. Hospital Finds Legionella in an Ice Machine

    LegionellaIce machines, with their cool, damp confines, can be a breeding ground for bacteria. This is why proper cleaning and maintenance of ice machines is vital to keeping such bacteria at bay. Growth of this bacteria can lead to mold and slime in the bin, and can also infect those who consume ice from the machine.

    In Brisbane, Australia, the Queensland Health is testing a hospital's water supply. This comes as a result of a patient testing positive for the legionella pheumophila bacteria. The bacteria causes legionnaire's disease, which can be deadly.

    Welsey Hospital had another similar incident back in 2013, when another patient died of legionnaire's disease.

    UnitingCare Health's chief operations officer Terence Seymour said that the hospital's water supply had returned negative results for the past two years. However, an ice machine located in a patient ward had recently returned a positive result.

    Other patients in close proximity to the ice machine are being monitored for signs of the disease by their doctors.

    It is still being investigated whether or not the infected patient accessed the ice machine. The patient also reportedly spent time away from the hospital during the infection period.

    The hospital is working closely with Queensland Health's Public Health Unit to determine the source of the contamination.

    Mr. Seymour wanted to reassure patients and their families that they remain vigilant in the testing of their water supply. He also reiterated that all ice machines are impeccably maintained and their filters changed every three months. As a precaution, all ice machines were disconnected, sterilized, and all hoses and filters were being replaced.

  2. A Clean Ice Machine is Best

    Clean Ice Ice machines are almost mandatory in certain industries like restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes and certain kinds of processing plants. As important as they are, they often get neglected when it comes to scheduled maintenance. Following a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule not only ensures that your business provides a clean product, but also ensures that your investment will continue producing returns for many years to come.

    It goes without saying that one of the most important things to know when it comes to cleaning and maintenance is to know your ice machine. Different manufacturers and different types of machines require different cleaning and maintenance procedures. It is always important to follow your users manual when it comes to completing these tasks.

    There are, however, some basic guidelines that you can follow to ensure that your ice machine is cleaned properly. For most ice machines, the removal of scale is your primary objective. Scale buildup can cause ice to stick to the surface of evaporator plates. This can, in turn, can lead to reduction in production, long production times, and ultimately, costly repairs. All parts that come into contact with water should be closely inspected for scale, slime, and mold.

    There are seven basic steps that can be followed when cleaning your ice machine:

    1. Remove and dispose of ice prior to beginning cleaning.

    2. Following the instructions in the manual, thoroughly clean the ice machine's water system.

    3. Remove and inspect all air filters.

    4. Next, check the water filtration system. Pay attention to the water pressure to check for any possible drops in water pressure that might indicate a restriction.

    5. Visually inspect all machine components. Do not forget the water valve.

    6. After cleaning is completed, it is suggested that you follow manufacturer instructions and sanitize the machine. Make sure you include the dispenser and storage bin in this process.

    7. Once all of these steps are completed, run at least two cycles and replace all parts. Make sure to throw out the first batch of ice produced.

    Cleaning time and the frequency of needed cleanings can vary depending on the placement of the unit. A unit placed near bread production can require more frequent cleanings. Most machines can require cleaning every 30, 60, or 90 days. This will ensure that your machine is running at peak efficiency.

  3. Do you have a Noisy Hotel Ice Machine?

    Old Ice MachineIt’s the little things that make a guest’s stay special and memorable. People, when they stay at hotels, want everything to go right. They want there to be a special experience rather than something run of the mill. Little changes can be made to make that happen, starting from the hotel ice machine.

    Hotel ice machines have the reputation of being the loudest things in the hotel, next to the compressors for the air conditioner. In most cases, the reason for the ice machine’s noise is that it has not been well maintained or looked after.

    Another reason for people hating the ice machines at hotels is that they are usually older than the hills, something that some hotels are proud of. “We’ve had this ice machine since the Reagan Administration,” is not something that you ever want to hear.

    Hotels are going over to the newer Energy Star ice machines all the time, because it saves them countless dollars over the life of the machine. By using up to 30% less energy and significantly less water, the Energy Star hotel ice machines just make sense.

    It’s in your hands. Do you want to have the ‘little things’ that happen in your hotel marked against you? Changing out the ice machines might be an excellent first step.

  4. Changing your Filters? Clean your Ice Bin

    Water FiltersWe’ve been talking a bit about water filtration, contaminated ice machines, and other items this week. We’ve seen several reports of places around the country who are experiencing difficulties with their water lines, and broken pipes. In order to prevent contamination, it’s sometimes necessary to flush your plumbing system to get the potentially contaminated water out – whether you’re in a restaurant or at home.

    The easiest way to start flushing these is to turn them on full blast for at least fifteen minutes. There are both hot water and cold water lines. Run the hot water line first, emptying the hot water tank of the old water. Then, you want to tackle the cold water line. This includes all fixtures, including the kitchen and bathroom.

    After the hot water has run out, then it’s time for the cold water. Since there has already been a bit of a cleansing, you don’t have to run it for as long, maybe five to ten minutes. But, when you’re flushing the system, it’s good not to forget the ice machines in the process. You can check out your owner’s manual for instructions on how to flush the water lines of your ice machines.

    While you’re at it, we’d also suggest that you take the time to clean and sanitize the ice machine bin – that cleaning will go a long way.

  5. How do you Purify your Water?

    Water PurificationThere are plenty of ways that you can purify the water that goes into your patron’s drinks. For commercial purposes, you want to use one of the water filter systems which attaches right onto the pipes. In fact, this is probably required by your local health code! Dirty water leads to dirty ice. While tap water might be clean, if your water isn't purified you'll end up with cloudy cubes.

    For home use, you can get clean water by using a point of use water filter. Think about this like a filter that’s attached right to the tap. The reduction of contaminants is impressive, with many of them reducing 99.99% of all pathogens, volatile organic compounds, and other items. No more chlorine!

    You can even filter the water that you get while you’re on the road. There are bottles which are designed to make sure that the drinker gets exactly the water that they need – something clean, pure, and tasty.

    Water purification is a big problem around the world. There are several organizations and individuals who are pushing towards new and cheaper purification methods. Maybe we'll see some of these new technologies filter their way into the ice machine space over the next few years. Ceramic filters anyone?

  6. Three Things to Keep your Ice Machine Running Well

    Ice Machine MaintenanceOne of the easiest ways to discover that you need a new ice machine is to think back and see if you can remember the name of the technician who last fixed it. If you’re able to remember them, and then you’re able to remember the name of their family members and where they were the past weekend and you’re not friends with them, then maybe it’s time to think about replacing your ice machine.

    Ice machines, like other equipment, wear out over time. There are some things which you can do to keep them running just a little bit longer, and here are a few of them.

    Let the machine breathe – By giving your ice machine a little bit of air on all sides, you are helping it properly function. If there isn’t clearance, then it has to work harder and can potentially give out faster.

    Check for leaks – Your ice machine has a water intake line, and sometimes wear and tear can cause it to leak. Any leak that you might have would be a loss of both water and power.

    Clean and sanitize – Take out your owner’s manual and investigate the ways that you can keep your ice machine clean. Get in there and clean it yourself or get one of your handy on-call technicians to do it for you, but make sure that all of the parts are properly working.

    These three tips will take you far, but while you’re looking in your owner’s manual, you’re bound to get more ideas about how you can keep those ice machines clean and running smoothly.

  7. Storms Knock out Ice Production

    StormThe past couple of days have been hard for many areas throughout the country. Storms have hit and there have been some power outages. There were many places which have had trouble getting back up, but the people in these cities have really come through for each other.

    Take, for example, the people of Quincy, IL. They were hit, and the storms took out 88% of the city. There were a lot of folks who were unable to get to their supply of ice. When you’re coordinating the ice for walk-in coolers and other places, you need to have it on hand. Unfortunately, the iceman didn’t have any power, either.

    “We’re doing the best we can, but we don’t have any power either.” The ice delivery people with no ice. Fortunately, there were those places which did have some ice on hand – and they were able to service customers. Those supermarkets were able to also stock enough ice, water, milk, and bread for their patrons.

    Ice is something which we’ve grown accustomed to having in restaurants, hospitals, and other places. Having an ice machine on hand is indeed necessary for the business. We’re very thankful that the folks of Quincy are getting their supplies back and that the crisis has slowly passed.  

  8. Using Ice Safely at Home

    Home Ice MerchandiserDid you know that 80% of the ice that people buy from bags is purchased between Memorial Day and Labor Day? This is the unofficial summer season, and it's the busiest time for ice producers. Most Americans buy an average of 4 bags of ice a year. It's mostly used for cooling down drinks and and food. However, misuse of bagged ice can mean it's also used for spreading food poisoning around.

    We've talked about how the FDA considers ice from ice machines to be food. The FDA also considers bagged ice that is produced in one state and sold in another to also be food, and ice producers take that very seriously. But the end user also must be diligent. Here's what to do with bagged ice to keep you and your family safe:

    * Always use a scoop or tongs that are clean and non-breakable to get ice.

    * Never use your hands or glasses to transfer ice.

    * Make sure the container you're using to store your ice is clean and food-safe. Sanitize it by mixing one teaspoon of unscented bleach with a quart of water and wiping the container down. Rinse with clean water.

    * Don't cross-contaminate! Melting ice can move bacteria from one edible item to another. Store meats and vegetables in separate coolers, or wrap them completely in plastic wrap.

    * Put a separate sealed bag of ice into your cooler for drinks. Don't use the loose ice used for cooling your meats and vegetables.

    By following these simple instructions, you can make sure your ice isn't going to make your family sick. Enjoy your summer holidays on the beach, not in the bathroom!

  9. More Mold in the Ice Machine!

    mold Once again it’s time to beat the drum on keeping your ice machine sanitized. Mold and bacteria would love to get a chance to grow in your machine. All that delicious water is waiting for them. You must stay on top of the problem or you could get a bad health inspection.

    It doesn’t take long for mold to develop. A bowling alley in Georgia received high passing marks on their last two health inspections. In fact, they even had a perfect score on the last one. But when health inspectors came for the next one, they got shut down. Why? They found mold in the ice machine and in a soda dispensing gun. Other problems found were toxic levels of sanitizer in a bucket and food stored uncovered in a walk-in freezer.

    The bowling alley is lucky they received such high scores before. They’re only shut down temporarily until the problems are fixed. The manager has called in professional cleaners to remove all the mold and repair the facility.

    Mold in your ice machine is easy to fix if you keep up with the schedule in your owner’s manual. Yes, it does take a while. But the safety of your customers and your employees is more important. To make it easy, have your employees inspect the ice machine often and follow proper procedures when using the scoop. You can also install a UV light in the bin and use a bin with an anti-microbial surface to cut down on cleanings.

  10. Student Body Replaces Ice Machines For Bugs

    Bugs in Ice Machine Ice machines are popular not only in restaurants, convenience stores, hotels, and hospitals, but also in college dorms.  Just ask the student body at UNC. But apparently someone wasn’t taking care of their machines. They were recently confronted with the unsavory appearance of bugs in their ice machines. It was mentioned that having to scoop the ice by hand might have contributed to the bugs.  Students were forced to use their hands or their own scoops because the original ice scoops were missing.

    Members of the student body came to ask the Residence Hall Association at UNC for new ice machines.  Their wish was granted, and two new ice machines were approved for purchase and installation.  Each of these machines costs around $3000, and the RHA would pay the remaining $591 in delivery costs.

    These costs will be spread out to each of the students which are affected by the new installation.  This move is expected, at least by the Student Body Treasurer, to encourage people to live on campus rather than in off campus housing.

    The RHA President expects that getting the new ice machines will form the catalyst for others to enjoy ice machines across the UNC campus.

    Another thing that the UNC Tarheel RHA may want to consider is the sanitization and cleaning of those ice machines on a regular basis.  While they might get to it sometime, the evidence of bugs is a potent reason to stay vigilant with a cleaning and sanitizing schedule.

    Let’s hope that those new ice machines work well for them, and that they stay around for a long, long time on campus. To read more about the new ice machine or the activities the UNC Tarheel RHA, click here

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