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Section 13. How Will I Clean My Commercial Ice Machine?

Ice Machine Cleaning


After purchasing your new ice machine, you will of course want to make the most out of your new appliance. Products with longer life expectancies are generally preferred in every business and proper care should be taken to maximize the life of your machine and to continue to provide clean, clear, odorless, taste-free ice. This article will detail what you can do to keep your ice machine performing well, and provide some of the steps that should be taken to provide proper cleanings and maintenance for your ice machine.

There are preventative measures that should be taken to keep your machine clean, but a deep thorough cleaning is recommended about once every six months. A water filter on the incoming water line will help remove dirt and sediment from contact locations. This will help to keep ice clean and clear, and also keep it tasting fresh. The filter inhibits scale buildup, which can reduce ice production, or cause your ice machine to produce inferior ice cubes. Anti-microbial agents are also desired to inhibit the growth of slime and mold. These now come built into the surfaces of most models.

While ice machines vary by model and manufacturer, the cleaning steps tend to vary as well. All begin by turning the power off, and removing ice from the machine's storage bin. Removing the top from the machine will also assist in a deeper clean, and provide easier access to parts. Hoshizaki users will drain the pump by removing the pump plug. For general cleaning, you will add a nickel safe "de-scaling" cleaner to the pump reservoir. The nickel safe cleaners are very important to avoid damaging your machine if it should have a nickel-plated evaporator. (Most ice machines feature a nickel plated evaporator plate except Hoshizaki, whose ice machines feature a stainless steel evaporator plate).

Once your machine is primed for a cleaning cycle, you will utilize its "wash" or "clean" feature. Some will stop automatically, while others must be stopped when the machine is completely devoid of mineral scale. The cleaning fluid will be run through the same hoses and over the same surfaces that your regular ice making water flows through and over. This cycle can take up to 30 minutes on some models. After the cycle is complete, turn the machine off and disconnect the power.

Next, for a more thorough cleaning, you can remove the water curtain, the ice thickness probe, the distribution tube, water trough, water level probe, water pump, and evaporator tray.

For cleaning these loose, removed components, you must create a solution using warm water and the chemical cleaner, generally at 16 ounces of de-scaling cleaner per gallon of water. Half of this solution should be administered to the parts and components using a nylon brush. The brush should not be too abrasive in order to avoid scratches or damage. Once finished, all parts should be rinsed with clean water. The other half of the solution should be used to clean the internal parts of the machine, the evaporator's plastic parts, the bin and dispenser, and the trim along the molding. When done, all of these must be rinsed with clean water.

It is then necessary to create a sanitizer solution (about four ounces sanitizer per six gallons of water). Sanitizer can be a simple bleach and water solution. If possible, all ice machine parts should be soaked in the sanitizer. If not, these parts can be sanitized with a cloth or sponge that has been soaked with the sanitizer solution. After they are sanitized, all parts can be replaced on the machine.

Now, you will need to reapply power and turn the machine on to "clean" or "wash". When water is flowing over the evaporator, you can add sanitizer to the water trough at the bottom of the evaporator plate (3oz for a 300-1200lb machine, 6oz for any larger machine). Once the cleaning cycle is complete, turn off the machine and disconnect the power. You will want to create more sanitizer at this point to sanitize the interior of the machine with of this solution. If you are adhering to the thorough clean mentioned above, you will use the other half to sanitize these removed parts. Always flush the entire system and all surfaces with clean water after they come in contact with chemicals!

The ice scoop and holder should also be cleaned and sanitized thoroughly, as the scoop is the direct link between ice handler, and the consumer.

Cleaning the condenser is also recommended, and can be easily done with the brush attachment of a vacuum to remove all dirt, lint, and dust from the fan.

Once the machine is cleaned of scale and sanitized, you can replace all parts, restore power, and turn the machine back to its ice making state. It is very important to discard the first batch of ice, as it may have come in contact with chemicals left over from the cleaning process. The ice will likely be soft or mushy in any case, especially if any chemical residue mixed with the water that is being frozen on the evaporator. Better to be safe and clean than sloppy and sorry. To be completely safe, if it is also recommended that you discard the second batch of ice as well.

If you want the best performance from your machine, cleaning it regularly is not just recommended, it is required. Some machines come equipped with screens or lights linked to a computerized monitoring system that notifies owners when the unit needs to be cleaned or serviced. Buildup of scale, slime, and mold will inevitably cause problems in your machine, and in order to prevent them, your machine must be properly maintained. Hopefully, these steps will help your machine live a long life, and continue performing at the highest possible level. An unclean ice machine can lead to machine malfunction, health code violations (especially when slime or mold are present!) or even a premature death due to contamination. So do yourself and your customers a favor - Keep your ice machine cleaned regularly and well maintained to get the most out of your unit.

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