Ice Maker Not Filling Up All the Way? Here’s Why.

Reading Time: 5 minutes Troubleshooting

Ice maker not filling all the way

If you’ve ever walked into your business to find that your commercial ice maker isn’t completely full? Does it seem like your ice maker is producing less ice than when you bought it? If your ice maker is not filling up all the way, it’s likely due to an underlying problem.

Here are a few of the most common problems associated with low ice production.


Manufacturers rate ice machine production under specific temperature ranges. Ideally, ice machines work best in 70-degree air temperatures and 50-degree water temperatures. This is listed as an ice maker’s maximum production, and it’s likely the number most people look at when trying to pick the right size ice maker and ice storage bin.

The other measurement is AHRI capacity, which rates the ice machine’s production when the temperatures are raised to 90-degree air and 70-degree water.

The maximum capacity of and ice machines will always be more than the AHRI capacity because as temperatures rise, the ice machine produces less ice.

What happens in many cases where a user’s ice maker is not filling up all the way is the temperature in the room has risen without the user’s knowledge. This could be because summer has brought higher temperatures or because the ice machine is not getting enough ventilation to expel hot air away from the machine.

If your ice maker is not making ice like it used to, try lowering your thermostat. If you have boxes or other clutter around the machine, clear those out.

If your ice machine continues to freeze up or you want to know what you can do to prevent it, check out this comprehensive Ice Maker Freeze Up article.

Low Water Flow

It should go without saying that ice machines need water to produce ice, but it can be tough to tell whether an ice machine is getting enough water to an untrained eye.

Ice machines require between 3-5 gallons of water per minute to make a full batch of ice. Any less, and you’ll end up with small ice cubes or an ice maker that’s stopped working altogether.

There are a few reasons why your ice maker might not be receiving enough water. They include:

  • Your ice maker is leaking
  • Your water line is frozen or plugged shut
  • Dirty Water Filter
  • Faulty Water Inlet Valve
  • Another appliance pulling water from the ice machine (dishwasher, sink, etc)

If you suspect the problem stems for the ice maker, as is the case with a dirty water filter of faulty water inlet valve, you should call an ice machine technician.

If the problem is outside of the machine (water line issues, other appliances, etc.) you will likely need a plumber.

Freeze Ups

A freeze up happens when ice sticks to an evaporator plate and grows to the point where it freezes over the entire plate. This can result in an ice maker not filling up all the way or an ice machine not making ice altogether.

An ice maker freeze up that results in low ice production is often caused by:

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  • Scale buildup on the evaporator plate
  • Low water flow to the ice machine
  • Component failure inside the ice machine
  • Improper setup or installation

It’s possible to melt the ice off the evaporator plate to get the machine running again – but that won’t solve the underlying issue.

If your water line is not delivering enough ice and causing a freeze up, you’ll need a plumber.

Scale build up is removed during an ice machine deep clean. A deep clean should be performed by an ice machine technician at least twice per year, as recommended by ice machine manufacturers. You or your staff can also perform regular ice maker cleaning to help stay ahead of issues like scale.

Bin Control Issues

Your ice machine bin control monitors the amount of ice in your ice bin and shuts down ice production when the bin comes close to full.

If the bin control happens to fail, it can shut down the ice machine prematurely, which will lead to less ice in your ice bin.

There are two main types of bin controls, mechanical and thermostatic.

Mechanical bin controls have an actuator door that depresses when ice reaches it. When ice pushes in the actuator door, it shuts the machine down. If the door sticks and stays shut, your ice maker will not produce ice.

Thermostatic bin controls are commonly found in large ice makers and use temperature to monitor the amount of ice in your bin. When ice reaches the bin control, a thermostatic bulb senses the drop in temperature and shuts the machine down. When ice equipment with thermostatic bulbs are placed in rooms below 50 degrees, they can fail and never communicate to the machine to turn back on.

If you encounter an issue you believe to be a faulty bin control, contact an experienced ice machine service company.

Own a Manitowoc? Check out our technical troubleshooting guide.

Being Attentive Can Keep Your Ice Bin Full

There are a lot of issues that can cause an ice maker to not fill all the way. When this happens, a little bit of ice maker troubleshooting is in order. Inspect your machine and the surrounding area as well. It could be that your ice maker is working just fine, but environmental factors are at play.

Often, simply lowering the air conditioner or moving a box away from the machine can get your unit producing at peak capacity. Paying attention to these factors can help save you money on a service call.

Our team is available to help you get started today!

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