Ice Machine Care
If your ice machine consistently looks like this, it may be time to find a new one for your business.
If you own an ice machine, chances are you’ve asked this question at one point or another. Unfortunately, there is no simple, clear cut explanation for why your ice machine is not making ice. There are many factors that play a part in the ice making process, and there are a lot of things that can go wrong with your ice machine in its lifetime. Hopefully, with this guide, you will be able to identify the problem or problems facing your ice machine and you will be able to get your unit back to doing what it is supposed to do – making ice for you and your establishment. We separated these issues into two categories: External Factors and Human Errors. Some are easy to fix while some require additional time or resources, but with this list, you should be able to locate the problem and fix it accordingly.
Temperature / Weather
Temperature increases can kill your ice machine's production
This issue is faced by those who allow their ice machine to operate in a commercial kitchen or any other high temperature areas of your establishment. When forced to operate under these conditions, your ice machine may struggle greatly. In fact, most ice machines are rated by their performance in 90 degree heat, and some can lose up to 30% of their ice production when making ice in elevated temperatures. During my years of bartending, (although our ice machine made use of a remote air cooled condenser) we would always notice a dip in ice production when it became excessively hot (95+ degrees over a few days). When the air temperature is too high, water temperatures often increase, and your ice machine requires more time to bring the water to acceptable levels for ice making. This can slow ice making or bring it to what seems like a standstill. For this reason, it helps to purchase an ice machine that makes more ice than you will require on a daily basis.
Almost every air cooled ice machine head and undercounter ice machine requires six inches of clearance for optimum ice making. Manitowoc ice machines advise more, with eight inches as the recommended value. If your ice machine does not have the proper amount of room to operate, it will not be able to take in air to keep the condenser cool. If the condenser is not cool, your ice machine’s ice making power will suffer. Dust and dirt gathered on your condenser coils can also affect ice machine performance, but we will address this later at a greater length. You should always adhere to the minimum clearance recommended by the ice machine manufacturer to get the most out of your ice machine.
Ice / Minerals on Evaporator Plate
Sometimes, mineral deposits will affect the way ice is harvested after being created on the evaporator plate. Ice may continue to grow and thicken as your evaporator plate cannot warm efficiently enough to drop your ice into the bin. Generally, lower quality water can leave behind mineral or scale deposits, and those can build up on your evaporator plate. If these issues are left unattended, your ice machine may continue to produce ice, but it will often be thin, watery, and of low quality. In most cases, a thorough cleaning will solve these problems. If you haven’t already, you should consider adding a water filter to your ice machine, which will greatly reduce (if not completely eliminate) the amount of sediment and minerals in the water used for ice making. Your evaporator plate is one of the most important pieces of your ice machine, so it should be cared for accordingly.
As water travels from the clouds, through the soil, and eventually into your ice machine, it may pick up small, microscopic minerals along the way. When this water runs through your ice machine, these mineral deposits can be left along way, and can build up over time. In doing so, your ice machine will create ice less efficiently. Scale buildup is one of the most common causes of machine malfunction. Everpure provides more information on scale buildup, and details how to identify which minerals are most present in your water. Scale buildup can be minimized and prevented with a proper water filter, and it can be removed with any of the scale removal products found at Ice Machines Plus as well.
The dust on this condenser is inhibiting airflow to the ice machine
The condenser coils can be found behind the vents on the sides or top of your ice machine (air cooled models). Through these vents, warm air is filtered out and away from your ice machine to allow it to make ice with greater ease and to keep the unit cool. These coils however, can collect dust, dirt, and grease which can inhibit the transfer of heat away from the ice machine. In the case of dust and dirt, you can easily wipe them away with a moist towel with little effort. If it is grease buildup, a deeper clean may be warranted, usually one that makes use of a cleaning solution or chemical if the situation is exceptionally bad.
Obviously, water is required to make ice. So, if your ice machine is not making ice, you may need to check that your water supply is adequately connected and providing water to your ice machine. If the water is warmer, it may take longer for your ice machine to create ice. The optimal temperature for water used in your ice machine is 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ice Machine Programming or Settings are Off
While some of your problems can be chalked up to a faulty unit or other external problems, human error may also play a role in your ice machine’s performance. Some ice machines (notably Scotsman’s and Manitowoc’s) can be programmed to make ice on a schedule or to not make ice when it is not required. If your ice machine was set to rest or sleep for a certain amount of time, it is quite possible that someone forgot or neglected to adjust the settings back to ‘ice making’ mode. These settings can be adjusted rather simply however and your ice machine should get back to making ice in little time.
Ice Machine Not Plugged In
Well, this one is a head slapper. You checked all of the previous problems we listed and then you saw the plug resting on the ground behind the ice machine, or that the ice machine was simply turned off! Whether someone tripped over the cord and it was pulled from its socket or your ice machine was unplugged or turned off by someone with malicious intent is for you to find out, but for now, plug it back in and get back to making the ice that your customers need!
Hopefully, upon finishing this list, you will have found the cause of and solution to your problem and your ice machine is once again making ice. If the problem was internal, you may want to consider a water filter from our water filter store, or any of our scale reducing products. If your ice machine is still not making ice, you may have to search locally for a repair person, which may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. In these cases, it is best to assess your options and consider the cost of repairs versus the cost of a new ice machine. In that latter case, we will be able to provide you with the ice machine that best suits your business, so do not hesitate to give us a call!
Ice 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.
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:
Remove and dispose of ice prior to beginning cleaning.
Following the instructions in the manual, thoroughly clean the ice machine's water system.
Remove and inspect all air filters.
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.
Visually inspect all machine components. Do not forget the water valve.
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.
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.
It’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.
We’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.
There 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?
One 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.
The 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.
Did 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!
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.