Commercial Ice Machine Maintenance Tips
Ice is vital to every restaurant in America. We use it to cool drinks, buffet tables, and help prepare certain foods in the kitchen. That’s why it’s important to keep your ice machine in good working condition. Like any piece of equipment, it must be maintained regularly. Here are the basic things that must be done:
- Clean and sanitize the bin regularly This is the big one. Ever read a story about a restaurant that got shut down for slime or mold in the ice machine? Ice machine bins are prime places for bacteria to grow. The cold slows them down, but they love all that water. Follow your manual’s recommendations for cleaning and sanitizing procedures. The manual or local regulations will tell you how often it needs to be cleaned.
- Change the air filter as needed Ice machines come in two varieties: air-cooled and water-cooled. Air-cooled models are much more common. The filter must be changed regularly to keep the machine cool. A clogged filter will cause heat buildup that could lead to damage. It will also make the cost of operating the machine higher. It’s an easy fix, but one that can be missed. You can also clean the condenser fan blades while you’re changing the air filter.
- Change your water filters Ice must taste fresh, but ice must also be made with soft water. Hard water does more than put impurities into ice. It can build up scale on components. Too much scale can wreck a machine. Filtration also removes chlorine and other chemicals, and provides an extra layer of protection against microbial invasion. Change your water filters regularly to keep your ice and your ice machine in top condition.
- Sanitize the water intake Since filters cause a buildup of bacteria around the filter, it is possible for the water intake system to become contaminated over time. This often happens when the filter hasn’t been changed in a long time. Use a water intake sanitizing kit as needed to clean these up.
- Check for damage While you’re doing all of these things, give the machine an inspection. Does anything look loose or corroded? Do you see oil anywhere? Does the motor sound like it’s running properly? How are the water intake screens? Read your owner’s manual for other things to look for that could indicate a problem. For instance, if you notice that your ice is coming out with different sizes, this could be a problem with scale.
- Check the auger on flake ice machines On a flake ice machine, ice is formed in a cylindrical container. An auger scrapes away the ice around the cylinder to create flakes. This auger will wear out over time. At least yearly, the bearings should be inspected on a flake auger. If you live in an area with hard water, you will want to inspect it more often. Augers do eventually wear out. While you’re inspecting for wear, it’s a good idea to make sure the bolts holding the auger in place are still tight.
There are many things that you can do in-house to keep your ice machine well maintained. The service manual for the machine will detail any specialized maintenance you may need to perform, but these items are essential. Keep your machine maintained and you’ll always have the ice you need.