Large storms have the potential to cause a lot of damage to businesses – and that includes ice machines. Water from storms can damage equipment or leave you with a dirty ice maker.
We know that when a storm is approaching, protecting an ice machine isn’t on the top of the list, but with a few quick, protective measures, you can help make sure you have ice after the storm passes.
Avoid a Damaged and Dirty Ice Maker
Lightning – Electrical storms have the potential to cause the most damage to a commercial ice maker. Electrical storms can cause surges that will fry the electrical components of an ice maker. If an ice machine’s board or fuse is damaged due to a surge, it will most likely need to be replaced – which will sideline your ice production, forcing you to purchase bags of ice.
Water source contamination – Storms that bring major flooding have the potential to contaminate the municipal water supply. If your machine is running, it can draw in that contaminated water which will leave you with a dirty ice maker. Ice makers that are contaminated will require a deep cleaning. If this happens, you’ll need a professional to come out to perform a proper cleaning.
Flooding – There are a couple of issues to look out for with heavy flooding. First, water can damage the outside of the unit. This is unsightly, but it won’t really affect your ice production. The main concern with flooding is that, if it enters the machine, it can damage components within the ice maker which are responsible for keeping your ice maker running.
Let’s look at the things you can do to help prevent damage from these hazards:
Since electrical storms can fry components in your ice machine, it’s best to cut power to the unit before the storm hits. That means shutting off the main breaker, which will also help protect your other appliances, or unplugging your ice machine.
With no way for electricity to get to the unit, your ice machine will be safe from any surges that may occur.
Water contamination will dirty your ice machine from within if you don’t take the proper precautions.
Many ice machine installations have a ball valve in place between the water line and the ice machine to prevent any contaminated water from entering and leaving you with a dirty ice maker. To be safe, you should still disconnect your ice machine from the water line.
Luckily, most commercial ice machines are on an ice storage bin, keeping the machine 3-4 feet off the ground which should keep it safe from most flood situations.
Smaller units and under-counter ice makers, however, are more susceptible to flooding. If are expecting flood conditions and you have a smaller machine, you may want to call a professional to uninstall the unit and move it to higher ground before the storm hits.
Outdoor Ice Machine
Installing an outdoor ice machine comes with risk, but sometimes you have no choice. If a storm is heading toward you, be sure to protect your ice machine from the elements. Wind and rain can take a toll on a machine without the proper protection. Not only can a storm harm the exterior of the ice maker, but if it’s is an air-cooled unit, rain can enter through the venting.
To ensure that rain doesn’t damage your ice maker, you can cover it with a waterproof material. Trash bags can be a good option, but if you expect strong winds, you might want to consider investing in a heavy waterproof tarp.
Restoring a Dirty Ice Maker After the Storm
If you return to your business and notice that water has contaminated your ice bin, you’ll need to clean it out before you run the ice machine again. You can find our detailed instructions on cleaning your ice machine and bin in this article.
Once the machine is clean, you can turn the breaker back on, reconnect it to the water line. Turn the machine on and let it go through its harvest and freeze cycle (this should take 15-30 min depending on the make and model of your unit).
Understandably, preparing your ice machine for a storm should only be done if time permits. Protecting your ice machine should never take priority over protecting yourself. If you’re in an area that’s susceptible to storms and floods, you should make sure your insurance policy covers storm damage.
If you’re an Easy Ice customer and have experienced damage or contamination from a storm or flood, contact us at 866-easyice (327-9423). We’ll help get the ice machine up and running so you can get back to serving your customers.