If you had to run a marathon, when would you rather do it? During a nice, cool fall day or under the beating sun of summer? Unless you’re one heck of an athlete, there’s a good chance you might collapse if you chose option two. Your ice machine feels the summer heat as well, and if your ice maker is not working properly, the temperature could be the cause.   

Many businesses rely heavily on their ice machine. As temperatures rise, you don’t want your ice supply to fall. Here are the most common ice maker problems you face during the summer and what you can do to solve them.   

Lower Ice Production  

When ice machine manufacturers test the amount of ice their machines can produce, it’s under optimal temperatures. These are within rooms that are 70 degrees Fahrenheit with 50-degree water running to the machine. For instance, a Hoshizaki KM-260B produce 263lbs of ice in a 24-hour period, provided these temperature conditions are met.  

During the summer when it’s hotter, these temperatures are harder to keep in check. The higher the internal temperature of your ice maker, the more your ice production plummets. This is simply how ice machines work, which is why it’s important to do all you can to keep your ice machine cool.  

Room Temperature Rising 

For people, it’s easy to tell when a room feels hot. We begin to sweat, we may loosen our collar or begin fanning our face. Unfortunately, ice machines don’t give off these kinds of signs.  

If your ice machine is producing enough ice, you may assume it’s keeping a decent temperature. What you might not know is that the unit could be running hot, and now that summer is in full swing, the temperatures can be extreme. Newer machines may survive a few of these summers, but years of high temperatures will eventually take their toll.  

Most technician calls report the ice maker not working as well as it used to, often because it’s overheated. 

For instance, let’s take the Hoshizaki KM-260B example mentioned above. At optimal 70/50-degree air/water temperatures, this machine produces 263lbs of ice in 24-hours. Easy Ice tested this same machine when exposed to air and water temperatures at 90-degrees. Our results show this machine’s ice production dropped to 189lbs.  

Now, if your business only uses 40lbs of ice a day, that’s more than enough ice. You’ll come into a full bin of ice every morning. But when that machine is teetering on a 90-degree temperature, it can’t afford to get much hotter. As the summer heat increases the room temperature, even a little, the machine runs the risk of overheating and your ice maker not working properly.  

There are a few causes that can raise the internal temperature of your machine without your knowledge: 

  • The area around your machine isn’t properly ventilated 
  • It’s stored in a small room where heat gets trapped (e.g. closets, cubbies) 
  • The ice maker is in a hot room (e.g. Kitchens, warehouses without AC) 
  • Too much clutter around the ice machine blocking vents 
  • Not cleaning and maintaining your commercial ice machine properly 

Make sure your ice maker is in a temperature-controlled room, preferably with a good, central air conditioner. Ideally, you want the temperature of the room to stay as close to 70 degrees as possible.  

Proper ventilation is also important. You don’t want your ice machine in a small, enclosed room. Open doors or venting can help hot air to escape, provided air is moving throughout the space. A good way to get the air moving is by placing fans in the direction you want the heat to escape.  

Water Temperature Rising  

Another common ice machine problem is water temperature. Just as a nice, cool glass of water can be the best prescription for a hot summer day, your ice machine also needs cooler water.  

As we stated before, commercial ice machines run on an optimal water temperature of 50 degrees.  

Most water lines run underground, where they’re insulated against extreme summer temperatures. This is not always the case – sometimes water lines run through walls or even through the roof. When this happens, the water lines are more likely to be exposed to the outside heat. During particularly hot summers, these water lines can heat up, and push hot water to your ice machine. In these instances, Easy Ice has measured water temperatures as high as 140 degrees! 

Commercial ice machine manufacturers install a safeguard in each ice machine that causes it to shut down when it’s overheating. This is to prevent the ice machine from getting too hot and causing irreparable damage to the unit. Although the intentions are well placed, shutoffs cause interruptions that can leave your business with very little ice if you don’t catch them early enough. 

Increased Ice Demand 

As if all these ice machine problems weren’t enough, increased demand is another challenge to consider. When summer temperatures increase, people look for ways to cool down – and what’s cooler than ice? 

Many business owners don’t realize how much the demand for ice can increase during the summer. People are more dehydrated and require more ice-cold water to cool down.  

If you run a business that has an outdoor patio, ice demand can also increase drastically during the summer. As heat beats down, customers drink more, and that means more ice.  

Therefore, it’s important to get the right sized ice machine to account for the most demanding months.  

Another thing you can do to minimize the impact of increased demand for ice is to store ice for the summer. If you know you’re approaching a particularly busy summer day, you can save extra ice in bags and store them in your freezer.  

If you’re already an Easy Ice customer, we have a Peak Ice Demand program that offers supplemental ice for a fee to customers in select areas. To see if your business is within our service area, and to learn more about our ice machine subscriptions, call 866-easyice. 

Understanding the most common problems ice machines face in summer can give you a good framework to prepare for the summer season. Also, in the event your ice maker is not working, you’ll have the knowledge you can use to communicate with a technician.