As summer approaches and temperatures begin to rise, people look for ways to keep cool. Maybe it’s taking a dip in the pool or cooling down with an ice-cold drink. While you’re chilling out this summer, don’t forget that your restaurant ice machine also needs to stay cool.

An ice machine that must produce ice in the heat is like a runner sprinting against the wind. As the wind blows, he must push harder to keep the same pace. Similarly, when your restaurant ice machine produces ice in a hot environment, the heat works against it and forces it to work harder. This causes your ice machine to produce far less ice than it can at optimal, cooler temperatures. High heat can even cause the machine to shut down altogether.

Luckily, there are ways to ensure your restaurant ice machine runs smoothly all through the season.

Cleaning and Preventive Maintenance

Simply put, a dirty ice machine works harder than a clean one. A buildup of scale, mineral deposits, and slime can really lower the efficiency and reliability of your restaurant ice machine. This means your ice machine must work harder than normal. That’s not something you want during the summer when your machine is already fighting against higher temperatures.

While your Easy Ice subscription takes care of planned service twice per year, there are some things you should do to make sure your ice machine is running optimally. Make sure to clean your air filter every week – most Hoshizaki ice makers have them right on the front panel for easy access. Other parts that require regular service and cleaning are:

  • Evaporators
  • Condensers
  • Water Filters

Ideally, to prevent a dirty ice machine, you should clean and service it every 6 months. You could try and do this yourself, but it’s best to have a professional come out to do it. If you have an Easy Ice subscription, regular maintenance and cleanings come free of charge for commercial ice machines.

Proper Ice Machine Installation

Where you install your ice machine also determines how hard it works. This is something that you need to consider before your ice machine installation. Optimally, you want your ice machine in a room between 45 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit with plenty of extra space.

Some environments make it much harder to keep your ice machine clean and operating efficiently. The worst offenders are:

  • Hot kitchens
  • Closets
  • Cubbies
  • Rooms without temperature control (e.g. sheds or warehouses)
  • Outside

Also, keep your machine away from appliances that produce a lot of heat like:

  • Ovens
  • Furnaces
  • Fryers
  • Grills
  • Ranges
  • Nearly all refrigerators and freezers.

Keep in mind, your ice machine gives off heat as well. So, before your ice machine installation, you want to make sure that the room has ventilation for heat to escape. Good options are an open door or plenty of fresh air circulation.

It’s important your restaurant ice machine has a good amount of space between it and the wall. You want to leave 8-12 inches of space on all sides of the machine (including the top of the machine and the ceiling). This is so heat has enough room to escape and doesn’t get trapped near the unit.

Finally, don’t use your ice machine as a shelf. Keep boxes, containers, and other items off your ice maker. Placing items on top of an ice maker can block airflow and recirculate air back into the machine. In extreme cases, hot air can overheat the condenser and shut down your ice machine completely.

Consider Upgrading your Machine

In some cases, you may find that the ice machine you purchased in the past is no longer keeping up with your growing business. Maybe you purchased your ice maker during winter or fall and it worked great, but now that it’s summer, it’s having trouble keeping you stocked with ice.

In these cases, you should strongly consider upgrading your restaurant’s ice machine to meet your ice needs during the inevitable hot summer months.

Purchasing a new ice machine can be expensive. With Easy Ice’s subscription-based model, members can upsize their ice making machine once per year if they find that their machines aren’t meeting their current needs.

Make sure your Air-Conditioner is Working

No one likes it when their AC goes out, but ice machines feel the heat the most.

Remember, ice machines have a much harder time producing ice if they’re in a room hotter than 90 degrees. If you’re having AC issues where your restaurant ice machine is installed, you can bet that room will heat up fast.

In addition to your ice machine, you should also make sure you prepare your HVAC unit for the summer. This means:

  • Changing your filters
  • Testing to see your thermostat is working properly
  • Making sure your AC vents are clean and clear of obstructions
  • Scheduling a technician to service the machine to prevent future issues

Running out of ice during the hottest time of the year is not cool! Ice machines may not be people, but they don’t like the heat any more than we do. If you treat your ice machine well, it will treat you and your customers well. By making the proper preparations, you and your ice machine will be able to meet any summer challenge.

Prepare for Possible Ice Shortages by Storing Ice

Even after taking precautionary steps to prepare your ice machine for summer, the perfect storm of high temperatures and increased usage could cause you to run low on ice. A good way to be ready for summer shortages is to store ice in advance.

Purchase some heavy-duty, food-grade plastic bags and fill them with the extra ice your machine produces. By storing these bags in your freezer, you can ensure that your customers’ ice needs are met.

If you don’t have room to store the ice, you could have ice delivered to your business to prepare for increased usage.

Easy Ice subscriptions also include a Peak Demand Ice service that offers ice delivery for a fee in select cities. Call us at 866-easyice for details.