Why Does My Ice Maker Freeze Up?

Reading Time: 5 minutes Learn About Ice Machines, Troubleshooting

Believe it or not, but ice can actually harm your ice machine. An ice maker freeze up can be very expensive to fix if it ends up damaging your ice machine. Ice can grow to such an extent that it breaks vital components. Luckily there are ways to identify when an ice machine freezes up, so you can prevent any further damage to the unit.

What is an Ice Maker Freeze Up?

Ice makers freeze up when ice can’t release off the evaporator plate. As water continues to flow over the stuck ice, it continues to form to the point where it becomes a massive block of ice. A freeze up can prevent your ice maker from dropping ice or grow so large that it damages the evaporator plate, leading to an expensive ice machine repair.

While a freeze up is pretty easy to identify, the cause of a freeze up isn’t always easy to diagnose. There are actually a few reasons why an ice maker can freeze up. Often the underlying issue must be addressed to prevent the ice maker from continually freezing up.

Freeze ups may cause a 3-beep error code in Hoshizaki ice makers. If you have a Hoshizaki machine, bookmark this article.

What Causes an Ice Maker Freeze Up?

Freeze ups can happen for many reasons, but there are a few common issues that you should look for first.


Scale is the result of hard water in your ice maker. Calcium and magnesium forming together and clinging to surfaces where water continuously flows. If you live in an area with hard water, you’ve likely seen scale forming around your faucet or on your shower tiles.

Ice makers form ice by flowing water over a freezing evaporator plate. As the water flows, it begins to freeze to the evaporator plate little by little until it forms a cube. When the ice grows large enough, the machine harvests the ice by increasing the temperature of the evaporator plate. Additionally, flowing water assists in the releasing the ice, allowing it to drop into the storage bin.

When scale covers your evaporator plate, ice has a much harder time releasing. If an ice cube can’t release from the evaporator plate over continual freeze cycles, the one cube can grow into a large chunk of ice that can harm your ice maker.

The best way to avoid this is by getting routine professional cleanings to get rid of scale in your machine. If you live in an area with hard water, a water softener or phosphate filter can help to reduce the amount of scale in your machine.

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Bin Control Malfunctions

Bin controls monitor the amount of ice in ice bins. It shuts the ice machine down when it reaches the maximum capacity. Without a bin control, your ice machine would continue to produce ice around the clock, and when a bin control malfunctions, that’s exactly what happens.

If the ice machine can’t shut down, it will produce ice until it eventually builds up through the drop zone and backs up into the ice machine. Once the drop zone is plugged up, ice can’t deposit, and the machine freezes up.

The best way to avoid this is to make sure your ice machine gets at least 2 preventive maintenance visits a year from a qualified ice technician. If you notice your ice machine is not shutting down once the bin is full, shut down the machine manually and call a professional ice machine technician as soon as you can.

Float Switch Issues

In Hoshizaki ice machines, a float switch controls the amount of water used during a freeze cycle.

If the float switch malfunctions, it may cause the machine to make larger than normal ice, which is harder to release from the evaporator plate during the harvest cycle.

This can lead to a freeze-up, as well. If you notice larger ice in the storage bin you should call a qualified technician to check the machine operation.

Clogged Water Lines

Your water line is responsible for providing water to your ice equipment. Water lines won’t be able to deliver the proper flow of water to your ice machine if the line is plugged by mineral content or too small. The winter months can lead to frozen water lines, which is one of the most common ice maker problems caused by cold weather.

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Low water flow means the ice machine will not be able to release ice cubes off the evaporator plate. This leads to malformed ice cubes that eventually lead to a freeze up.

In these instances, you’ll likely need a plumber to fix this issue. If you’re dealing with frozen water lines, they will likely need to be insulated so the problem doesn’t persist.

Avoid Costly Freeze Ups with Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance and cleaning are vital if you want to avoid costly repairs. A freeze up can lead to damaged evaporator plates that are expensive to repair. Often, a skilled technician can catch small problems that lead to freeze ups before they end up hurting your pocketbook. That’s why we make sure all of our machines receive biannual maintenance and cleaning to keep them running.

If you’re interested in one of our ice machine subscriptions, complete with maintenance and cleaning, contact us today!

Our team is available to help you get started today!

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