A Dirty Ice Maker Filter Spells Disaster

Reading Time: 4 minutes Ice Machine Cleaning, Learn About Ice Machines

Hoshizaki KM-660 ice machine head

Tips to Keep Your Ice Maker Filter Clean

An ice maker filter is necessary to protect your ice maker from dust, debris, and other contaminants. If your unit has an air-cooled condenser, it most certainly has an air filter. 

It’s vital that you keep the ice maker air filter clean if you want to maintain a steady flow of ice and avoid costly repairs. 

Let’s go over why air filters are so essential to maintaining your ice machine, and then we’ll show you how to clean them.    

Ice Maker Filter: Your First Line of Defense 

When dirt and other particles enter the unit, they can stick to the condenser, slowing down its ability to cool the refrigerant. With enough dirt, dust, debris, and grease, the condenser will no longer be able to expel the heat which can lead to severe problems. Air filters help ice machines filter out all those hazardous particles.

The ice machine condenser is one of its most vital components. The condenser’s job is to cool down the refrigerant during the refrigeration process, which the evaporator uses to freeze water into ice. As the evaporator removes heat from the water to make ice, the condenser releases that heat through its fins. Flowing air helps expel heat outside of the machine and into the surrounding environment. The refrigerant is cooled again, and the process repeats in a loop.

Hoshizaki ice machine air filters are made of an electrostatic plastic mesh, while Manitowoc machines use a metal mesh filter. The mesh captures air particles before they can enter the ice machine – saving your condenser in the process.  

High Capacity Ice Maker Filters 

In certain challenging work environments, air filters require a little backup.  

For environments that have a lot of flour, yeast, grease or dust, adding a high capacity pre-filter can make a huge difference in your ice machine performance, and even prevent the need for extra cleanings. 

At Easy Ice, we use an Enhanced Air Filtration System, which is a big blue ice maker filter made of synthetic material, which is then attached to the machine in front of your existing air filter. This high capacity filter traps contaminants before they reach your ice maker filter, protecting your condenser further.    

The Dangers of a Dirty Air Filter 

When dirt or grease clogs up an ice machine’s air filter, it restricts airflow, which can warp them over time. Warped air filters can’t effectively filter out dirt. If this happens, you’ll have to replace them.  

A warped ice machine air filter isn’t your only concern. Restricting airflow also traps heat around the condenser, which means it won’t be able to cool the refrigerant effectively. As the condenser takes longer to cool refrigerant, it backs up the whole refrigeration system, forcing it to work harder.  

An overworked refrigeration system will cause your ice maker to take longer to produce ice, but this is only the first symptom.  

Ice makers will also use more energy, which means high utility costs for your business. 

Finally, if a refrigeration system is taxed for too long, it will wear out your compressor. A broken compressor is catastrophic, completely sidelining your ice maker and leaving you without ice. The combination of repairing your compressor and purchasing replacement ice interim will end up costing you thousands of dollars.    

Cleaning Your Ice Machine Filter 

Easy Ice recommends cleaning an ice maker filter every two weeks. You’ll need to clean more frequently if you installed your ice maker in a high particulate environment with a lot of dust, grease, yeast, or flour in the air.    

An air filter’s location differs depending on the brand of the ice maker.    

Most Hoshizaki ice machines have the air filters on the front of the unit. If not, you can usually find them on the right-side panel. Removing them is a snap. Just slide them out of the ice machine, no tools are necessary for most models.    

Manitowoc ice makers usually have the air filters on the right side of the unit toward the back. Removing them is also simple and easy to do.  

Most of the time, you can clean air filters simply by spraying hot water on them until all the dirt is gone. For ice machines installed in areas like kitchens, grease can end up plugging up an air filter as well. In these cases, use a standard kitchen degreaser for wiping away stuck on grease and oil.    

Whatever you do, don’t wash an air filter in the dishwasher. Dishwashers use high heat to get your dishes squeaky clean, but that’s not the best environment for an air filter. High heat can melt the plastic electrostatic mesh in Hoshizaki filters or warp the metal mesh in other air filter brands. Once the plastic or metal is damaged, it’s no good anymore and you’ll have to replace your ice machine filter altogether.   

Replace High Capacity Filters 

We don’t recommend trying to clean high capacity pre-filters – just replace these when they get too dirty.  

Pre-filters are attached to the front of an ice maker’s air filter using Velcro. Just peel the pre-filter off the front of the air filter to remove and attach your new filter in its place.  

Ensuring your ice machine’s air filter is clear of dirt will help keep it running at peak performance. You’ll benefit from increased ice production and lower energy bills. Clean air filters also extend the overall lifespan of your machine by reducing the daily wear and tear associated with an overworked refrigeration system.  

Easy Ice provides air filters and standard condenser cleanings with our ice machine subscriptions. Contact us at 866-easyice (327-9423).   

Our team is available to help you get started today!