Ice machine maintenance

July 20, 2000
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Be careful not to bend the fan blades during cleaning.
A general maintenance schedule for ice machines helps ensure reliable, trouble-free operation and maximum ice production.

However, many owners may not realize that most ice machine warranties do not cover maintenance items. A service contractor or technician is responsible for maintaining the machine in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.

It is recommended that servicers follow maintenance guidelines on a semi-annual basis. Record the date on which you perform the maintenance in a space on a chart. Refer to the dates later (and perhaps show them to the owner) to remind you when it’s time to perform the maintenance again.

Note: Call a local qualified manufacturer service rep if at any time you are either unsure or unaware of the proper procedures and safety precautions that must be followed.

General inspection

  • Make sure that nothing (boxes, etc.) is stacked on or around the ice machine.

  • Make sure the machine is not at all covered during operation. There must be adequate airflow through and around the machine, to ensure long, competent life and maximized ice production.

  • Check all water fittings and lines for leaks.

Exterior cleaning

1. Clean the area around the ice machine as often as necessary to maintain cleanliness and efficient operation.

2. Sponge any dust and dirt off the outside of the machine with mild soap and water. Wipe it dry with a soft, clean cloth.

Caution: Stainless steel panels should be cleaned with a mild soap or a commercial stainless steel cleanser. Do not use cleansers that contain bleaching agents; they usually contain chlorine, which stains stainless steel.

3. Remove heavy stains with stainless steel wool. Never use plain steel wool or abrasive pads, which will scratch the panels and cause rusting.

Cleaning the condenser

Safety warning: Disconnect the electric power to the machine and the remote condenser at the electric service switch before cleaning the condenser.

In self-contained and remote air-cooled models, a dirty condenser restricts airflow, resulting in excessively high operating temperatures. This reduces ice production and shortens component life.

Clean the condenser at least every six months. The condenser fins are sharp, so use care when cleaning them.

1. The washable aluminum filter on self-contained machines is designed to catch dust, dirt, lint, and grease and helps keep the condenser clean. Clean the filter with a mild soap-and-water solution.

2. Clean the outside of the condenser (the bottom side of the remote condenser) with a soft brush or vacuum with a brush attachment. Brush or wash the condenser from top to bottom, not from side to side.

Be careful not to bend the fins. Shine a flashlight through the condenser to check for dirt between the fins.

If further cleaning is required, use one or both of the following methods:

1. Blow compressed air through the condenser from the inside. Take care not to bend the fan blades. Shine a flashlight through the condenser to check that all the dirt is removed.

2. Clean with a commercial condenser coil cleaner according to the directions and cautions supplied with the cleaner.

3. Straighten any bent condenser fins with a fin comb.

4. Carefully wipe off the fan blades and motor with a soft cloth, taking care not to bend the fan blades. Wash excessively dirty fan blades with warm, soapy water; rinse thoroughly.

Caution: If you are cleaning the condenser fan blades with water, cover the fan motor to prevent water damage.

Final notes

In water-cooled units, the condenser and water-regulating valve may require cleaning due to scale build-up.

Low ice production, high water consumption, and high operating temperatures and pressures all may be symptoms of restrictions in the condenser water circuit.

The cleaning procedures require special pumps and cleaning solutions. Therefore, they must be performed by qualified service/maintenance personnel.

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