We are almost at the time of year when Jack Frost will nip at our noses, and most seasonal businesses, like concessions, golf courses, and resorts, have recently shut down. With winter comes freezing temperatures. How a seasonal business owner handles the ice machine during seasonal transitions can either lead to a smooth summer opening or to expensive repairs. Performing low quality or no winterization on an ice machine at the beginning of the off-season increases the likelihood of kicking off next year’s on-season with broken components and a visit from ice machine service technicians.
Follow the instructions below to winterize seasonal ice machines, so they continue to produce for years to come. For businesses that stay open year-round and experience decreased ice production in winter, this article explains why.
Failure to Winterize – What Happens?
Manufacturers design commercial ice machines to run all day every day. Like other high-use equipment, ice makers are not meant to sit unused for extended periods of time without being thoroughly prepared.
Winter and freezing temperatures increase the risk of issues caused by ice machine downtime. If ice machine components freeze with any water inside them, they can crack or break. This happens because water expands when it freezes, but ice machine components (often composed of plastic) cannot expand. Without proper winterizing, there is likely to be water left in the water lines, water reservoir, or other components.
Ice maker problems caused by cold weather may result in lost time and wasted money at the beginning of the next season. Spending money to have a seasonal ice maker winterized usually ends up saving money in the long run.
Guide to Winterizing an Ice Machine
The best way to prepare an ice machine for a winter lull is to hire a professional technician to winterize it. It’s possible to winterize your ice machine yourself. However, a technician will have the equipment and knowledge to get the job done right. And the work may even come with a guarantee.
During the winterization service, the tech will complete the following:
- Shut down the ice machine.
- Empty the ice bin.
- Disconnect and drain the water lines.
- Remove the water filter(s).
- Drain the housing and any reservoirs.
- Blow out the water-cooled condenser (if applicable to the ice maker).
The technician will use co2 to blow out ice machine components, including:
- Evaporator plates
- Float switches
- Water inlet valves
- Water pumps
- Water reservoirs
- Water supply lines
Move Ice Machine Indoors
Part of winterizing an ice machine means storing it somewhere safe from the elements and possible theft. Ice makers contain copper components. An unsecured ice maker presents a target for theft, as copper is valuable and easy to access in the machine. This is especially of concern for ice makers in areas that are away from frequent observation or foot traffic, such as a distant tennis court at a sports complex.
Ice machines should also be stored indoors because even perfect winterization cannot prevent damage from the elements. Ice makers are not airtight, which means flurries of snow or pouring rain can get inside the unit, causing damage. Heavy snowfall could also dent the exterior frame.
Move the ice machine inside. If that isn’t an option, secure it in a shelter or case that will deter theft and provide cover from precipitation. And be prepared that failure to store it inside may result in seasonal repairs.
Rent if Possible
One of the easiest ways to avoid having to winterize or store a seasonal ice maker is to rent one with a seasonal lease. This isn’t available everywhere, so some business owners have to buy the ice maker outright, accepting the responsibility of maintaining, cleaning, and repairing it. While the “why rent when I could own the asset” mentality is strong, many people are not aware of the burdens of ownership – which only increase with seasonal use. Disuse during the off-season and the challenges of winterization and safe storage tend to shorten the productive life of ice machines, deteriorating the asset value faster.
The reason seasonal ice-machine rentals are difficult to find is because ice machine leasing companies find it difficult to recoup the cost of installing and removing the unit each year. Some ice maker lease companies make up the difference by charging more for these shorter terms.
Take time to research all the options in your area and determine the best use of your time and money when it comes to accessing the ice your business requires.
Seasonal Ice Machine Subscriptions for Seasonal Businesses
Easy Ice offers seasonal ice machine subscriptions in some regions of the U.S. Our subscriptions are a better take on traditional rentals. Our seasonal business customers receive a top-of-the-line ice machine and none of the hardships of ownership. We take care of maintenance, deep cleaning, services and repairs, and even provide back-up ice as needed. If your business grows, simply sign up for a larger machine the following season – an option that certainly isn’t available if you purchase an ice maker.
Contact us to find out if we offer seasonal ice makers in your area. Even if we don’t, an Easy Ice subscription may still be more cost-effective than buying an ice maker outright. Learn more by calling 866.327.9423 or filling out this form.
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