Large storms have the potential to cause an ice maker to flood or create an electric surge that harm the unit. Both water and lightning from storms can damage equipment or leave you without ice when the storm passes.
We know that when a storm is approaching, protecting an automatic ice machine isn’t on the top of the list. However, by preparing your ice machine for a storm (along with following other hurricane safety measures for businesses) you can help make sure you have ice after the storm passes.
Contamination from an Ice Maker Flood
There are a couple of issues to look out for with heavy flooding. 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 machine or pathogens like bacteria in your ice. 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.
If you’re an Easy Ice customer, we’ll send a technician to your business right away if there is any ice maker flood damage. One of our experienced ice machine technicians will deep clean the machine inside and out to make sure it produces clean, safe ice. If the machine has extensive damage due to flooding, we’ll replace the machine.
Water can damage the outside of the unit, as well. This is unsightly, but if water hasn’t entered the ice machine it won’t really affect your ice production. If water does enter the machine, it can damage components within the ice maker which are responsible for keeping your ice maker running.
The best thing you can do to protect your ice maker from flood damage is to turn off the ice maker. This includes not only shutting off the water line but disconnecting the machine from the water line as well.
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 mounted on an ice storage bin, keeping the machine 3-4 feet off the ground which should keep it safe from most ice maker flood damages. While the machine may be safe, the bin itself will need cleaning. Below are some cleaning tips you can follow if you notice flood water in your ice bin:
Cleaning Your Bin
- Clean interior and exterior surfaces with dish soap and warm water.
- Use an EPA approved disinfectant to wipe down the outside and inside of the bin. Make sure to follow the directions on the label.
- Rinse the disinfectant off the surfaces.
- To sanitize, mix your EPA-approved disinfectant according to the instructions listed for “sanitizing”. Spray the exterior and interior of the ice bin.
- Let the mixture drain/air dry for 5 minutes. DO NOT RINSE OR WIPE
Smaller commercial ice machines 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.
Electrical Damages from an Ice Maker Surge
Ice maker floods aren’t your only concern. Preparing your ice machine for a storm also includes protecting it from surges.
Electrical storms have the potential to cause the most damage to commercial ice equipment. Electrical storms can cause surges that will fry the ice machine’s electrical components. 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.
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.
Protecting an 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 maker from flood damage and the rest of 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 ice machine, rain can enter through the venting.
To ensure that rain doesn’t damage your ice maker, you can cover it with a waterproof material. Heavy duty 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 your ice maker has flood damage that has contaminated your ice bin, you’ll need to clean it out before you run the ice machine again. Here are some detailed instructions on cleaning your ice bin and well as disinfecting and sanitizing your ice machine.
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 ice contamination from a storm or ice maker flood damage, 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.
If your ice maker was damaged in a flood and you’re looking for a new one, one of our helpful Ice Machine Experts can point you in the right direction. We provide top-of-the-line commercial ice equipment for a low, monthly cost. We include cleaning, maintenance, and repairs to keep your ice supply secure during the toughest of times.