Ice Machine Maintenance
Here's what you can do to maintain your ice machine between professional cleanings.
1.) Clean the air filters (for air cooled ice machines only). Air cooled ice machines require adequate heat exchange between the air and the condenser coil. Manitowoc, Ice-O-Matic, and Koolaire machines generally place the air filter on the back of the ice machine. The ice machine's air filter should be cleaned once every two weeks. If your ice machine is in a location that is prone to airborne grease then use a degreaser to clean your ice machine's air filter in order to maintain proper heat exchange.
Hoshizaki ice machines generally have the air filters on the front of the machine as the air passes through the front and out the back of the ice machine. The filters on the front of a Hoshizaki ice machine should be cleaned every two weeks per the manufacturer's recommendation. Grease can accumulate on the inside condenser coil of the ice machine. When this occurs it is recommended that a technician come out, disassemble the ice machine cabinet, degrease the ice machine's condenser coil, and restore the ice machine back into service which should yield an increase or return in the ice machine's capacity.
2.) Monitor your ice machine's filter status. The ice machines filter status can be determined by age, water flow(gallons per minute- G.P.M.), or water pressure. Low water pressure to an ice machine can cause malfunctions as many ice machines operate with a timed fill valve (causing a low water situation in the ice machine's operating cycle) , not all fill valves will work without adequate pressure behind the valve, and a higher flow rate prevents sediment build up for the supply lines to the ice machine. The easiest way to ensure the ice machine's water filter is okay is to change it annually. Some ice machines will need water filters changed more frequently (depending on local water quality). If water quality is poor there are provision that can be taken; such as, a dual filter system, UV treatment, and if possible a longer dump cycle which allows more fresh water to enter the ice machine and carries out more sediment/debris.
Head and Bin Drain
3.) Ensure the ice machine's drains are clear and flow freely. Ice machines generally have two drains (modular head on bin). One ice machine drain is for the unit head aka modular head. This drain is used in the ice making process to flush out water from the previous ice making cycle. The other drain is normally the bin drain, a clogged or backed up drain on an ice machine can cause slime build up in the bin, create a leaking issue, and will melt your ice faster than you can use it.
-)Many times calls for leaking ice machines are actually clogged drains, for instance one of our technicians was at a hotel on a call for a leaking ice machine. The tech had repaired the crack in the PVC head drain and began an inspection. He found a banana, plastic bag, and sugar packets blocking the ice machine bin drain. This blockage caused the machine to leak creating a hazardous situation for those trying to retrieve ice.
4.) Ice machine bins tend to be an area of high contact, cross contamination between employees and the machine is a very real concept. This cross contamination can lead to an early build up of slime, mold, and other debris. The key to fighting this is to sanitize the ice machine's bin door, the ice scoops, and any areas of high contact. Not only will this fight off the mold, slime, and debris but it will ensure the ice machine stays up to snuff in-between your regular cleanings.