To make ice, you need water, and that means there is always the possibility a leak springing. When it comes to ice machines, there are a few common places a leak can occur – and most don’t even originate from the unit. In this article, we’ll identify the common causes of leaks and what should you do if your ice maker is leaking.
The First Steps to Follow When Your Ice Maker is Leaking
When a leak occurs around your ice maker, there are two apparent areas it is likely coming from: outside of the machine and inside the machine. Your first step is to carefully inspect the area around your ice machine to identify the location of the leak. Try to stay out of any pools of water, just in case an electrical hazard is present.
Depending on where the leak is coming from will determine who you should call to rectify the issue, a plumber or an ice machine technician. If the leak is coming from outside the machine, it might be a plumbing issue, as would be the case if the leak is coming from behind the shutoff valve. Anything stemming from inside the machine will require a technician.
The next thing you should do is unplug the machine and then turn off the water. It’s important you follow this order of operations as you can cause damage to the unit if you turn off the water before unplugging the machine.
We understand that sometimes shutting off the unit is not an option (if you need ice for customers). Although we strongly advise shutting the machine and water off, the next best course of action is to contain the leak. Placing a container, like a pot of bucket, to catch the water is vital to protect the surrounding area and people operating the ice maker.
What to Do When Leaks Originate Outside the Ice Maker
Many of the ice machine service calls we receive are due to customers finding leaks, but the truth is most leaks originate from outside of the ice machine, often coming from the water line. A leaky water line could be because someone didn’t secure the ice maker to the water line or the line itself has a crack or break in it.
If you do notice that your water line is leaking, you’ll need to call a plumber to resolve the issue.
If you’re an Easy Ice customer, we’ll cover any waterline leaks that originate beyond the shutoff valve.
A clogged drain is another common issue that can cause a leak to spring outside of the ice machine. Although less of a “leak” and more of a drainage issue, the symptoms are similar which leads customers to believe their ice maker is leaking. Ice machines typically require an air gap, which is a space between the ice machine’s drain line and the floor drain. If a dish towel or other item manages to lodge itself underneath the floor drain, water won’t drain properly and will overflow, giving the appearance a leak has sprung underneath your ice machine.
If you notice your ice machine leaking from the bottom, look under the unit to make sure nothing is plugging up your floor drain. Pulling the object out from under the ice machine drain should reestablish drainage between the ice machine’s drain line and floor drain.
What to do When Your Ice Maker is Leaking
Leaks originating from inside the machine can come from a lot of places since water flows through many different components within the unit. Some common problems we encounter are:
- Faulty or incorrectly installed water pumps
- Pipes that have come loose or have worn out
- Water inlet valves that have not been sealed properly
- Condensate drains that are leaking water
- Freeze ups
Usually, these leaks are due to components not being installed correctly or from worn out parts in older units. A good ice machine technician will be able to diagnose exactly where the leak is coming from and either fix or replace the component in question.
If you’re an Easy Ice customer, you can give our helpful customer service team a call, and they’ll send a technician out to your location. If your ice machine is leaking water due to machine failure or improper installation, we’ll fix it and cover your replacement ice supply free of charge while your machine is down.
The Long-Term Effects of Ice Makers Leaking
If your ice maker is leaking water, it’s not something you want to ignore. Depending on where the leak is coming from, there are varying degrees of damage that can occur.
If the leak is coming from outside of the machine, the potential damage can be extensive. Water can damage:
- Food products, especially if you have food stored in cardboard boxes
Water can also lead to mold growth in walls and underneath floors if it is left to sit for too long.
There are also potential liability issues you could face if you ignore a leak and create an unsafe work environment where employees can slip and fall.
Don’t ignore leaks that stem from inside the machine, either. If an ice maker is leaking, it means water is not getting to vital components. Smaller ice cubes or less ice production is likely to occur when a leak is present. Even if the ice maker is leaking water into the bin, ice can clump together, making it very difficult to dispense into glassware.
By far the most severe issues that a leak can cause in the machine are corrosion or freeze ups. Although it would take a long time, if you ignore an internal leak for too long it will cause damage to the bottom of a machine. Scale can build up, or even worse, rust can corrode the ice maker’s frame.
Freeze ups happen when ice can’t release from the evaporator plate. If water makes its way to evaporator plates, it can freeze into a large ice mass that will expand and crack an evaporator plate. Evaporator repairs are costly and will sideline your ice production until its repaired.
How to Prevent Your Water Line and Ice Maker from Leaking
The best way to stop leaks is by preventing them from forming. Routine preventive maintenance is the best way to accomplish this. Having a technician come out to service the machine every six months will help catch potential leaks from occurring. Technicians can identify when parts have the potential to leak and replace them before they fail.
Having a plumber come out to routinely check water lines and drainage is also a good idea. A plumber can clear floor drains and make sure water lines are properly sealed, so you don’t walk into a flooded room.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of a leak, paying close attention to your ice maker is your best line of defense. By identifying where a leak is coming from will help you decide how to contain it and call the appropriate experts to fix the problem. If you see water around your ice machine, don’t ignore it. By being proactive, you can prevent costly damages before they occur.