Ice machines need cleaning and attention for two reasons:
- To protect the machine from high temperatures thereby protecting its reliability.
- To clean contaminants that are introduced via human contact with the ice machine and storage bin.
Ice Machine Maintenance Procedures Maintain Ventilation
A commercial ice machine is more delicate than it looks. They require proper temperatures to maintain their ice production rate and extend their overall lifespan. Ice machines work best when the air temperature is around 70 degrees, and the water temperature is around 50 degrees. As those temperatures rise, the amount of ice your machine produces will be less because it will have to work harder against those higher temperatures. Over time, the ice machine will develop problems that can lead to expensive ice machine repairs.
Since maintaining the temperature is so important, ice machine ventilation is imperative – particularly in air cooled ice machines (the most common type). Air cooled ice machines use the surrounding air to cool off the internal components within the unit. A fan inside the system forces heat produced by the ice machine outside of the unit. The hot air disperses into the surrounding environment, away for the ice machine.
Your ice machine’s air filter is your first line of defense against a dirty ice maker. Air filters catch the incoming dust, dirt, and grease, so they don’t attach to the insides of the machine. Excessive dirt will limit your ice machine’s ventilation and overheat the unit.
For this reason, you should rinse out air filters frequently. Simply removing the air filter and spraying them with warm water will often do the trick, but you may want to spray them down with a kitchen degreaser if they are covered in grease. Do not bang or hit the air filters to clean — this will damage the filter.
Check Your Drain
When ice melts, the water needs somewhere to go. That’s where your ice machine drain comes into play.
Most ice equipment comes with a bin (unless it’s a countertop ice maker or a water and ice dispenser). These types of ice machines generally use a floor drain to flush excess water away. If something is blocking that drain, like a wash towel or other item, water will leak all over your floor.
We’ve seen a lot of instances where an owner thinks their ice maker is leaking and the solution is as simple as looking under the ice machine and removing an item blocking the drain. They end up paying extra money for an ice machine service call when they could have easily fixed it for free.
Checking around the machine daily for debris should be part of your ice machine maintenance procedures. It can save you money and keep your workplace safe.
Ice Machine Maintenance Procedures Keep Ice Clean
Ice makers are not the best place for germs to thrive. It’s the people who use the machine that can cause ice to carry germs.
The best defense against a dirty ice machine is teaching your employees proper ice handling techniques.
Employees should always wash their hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and water – especially before leaving the restroom.
If you have an ice machine with a bin, make sure employees use an ice scoop. Scooping ice into glassware is not only unhygienic, but broken glass is nearly impossible to see in a bed of ice. Under no circumstances should employees grab ice with their hands.
The next step is to routinely clean your ice maker. You should clean any dirt or grime stuck on your ice machine’s exterior or inside of the bin. You should also disinfect and sanitize areas that see a lot of use, like the exterior of the bin and bin lining.
Instituting an ice machine cleaning schedule for you and your employees will keep your machine and ice supply clean.
Commercial Ice Maker Maintenance Will Keep Your Ice Machine (and Customers) Safe
Commercial ice maker maintenance will help keep your ice machine running, save you money, and keep your customers safe. In addition to the maintenance you and your employees perform, you should also include at least 2 preventive maintenance and cleaning visits per year from a qualified ice machine technician.
Professional maintenance and cleaning will keep vital ice machine components working, which can save you a ton in expensive ice machine repair costs. Ice machines are often neglected, but if you show them the proper care they deserve, they will serve you well for years.
If you’re in the market for a commercial ice machine for your business and want to make sure it stays in top condition, our all-inclusive ice machine subscriptions are for you! We include a top-of-the-line Hoshizaki ice maker or Manitowoc ice maker along with 2 preventive maintenance and professionalcleaning visits per year. We even include repairs if some goes wrong with the machine. You get it all for a low monthly cost!
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