Regularly cleaning commercial ice machines is a necessary part of ensuring their continued and safe operation. Each ice machine manufacturer has a listed procedure for properly cleaning their various models. These procedures should be followed closely, and none of the steps should be skipped.

Remove All the Ice

One step that is sometimes skipped is the removal of all the ice from the storage bin. It is easy for a technician to want to skip this part, but it is not safe or wise. Removing the ice from the bin prevents the chemical cleaner and the slime removed from the machine from dropping down and coming into contact with the ice. It also allows a technician to clean and sanitize the bin.

A technician may elect not to remove ice from the storage bin because it takes extra time and he or she may not know what to do with the ice. If the business needs the ice, you can’t simply get rid of it; it has to be safely stored. With a little planning, both of these issues can be overcome. A good practice is to schedule the cleaning first thing in the morning and have the business empty the bin the night before. This will save time and allow the business to make the decision on what to do with the ice. If this is not possible, the technician will need to consult with the business before cleaning to see if the ice can be discarded or if it needs to be saved. If they need the ice, they must consider how to safely remove and store it.

If the ice machine has a heavy buildup of slime, the technician will need to remove the water distribution components and clean them individually. Again, this is an important step not to skip, if it is required. Great care should be taken when removing any component, especially on older machines. It is easy to damage or break a component during this step, which is definitely not good for the technician or customer. Once the individual components have been cleaned, the machine needs to be reassembled and have ice machine cleaner run through the machine per the manufacturer’s directions.

Don’t overlook air-cooled ice machine maintenance, either. The condenser coils need to be inspected and cleaned, if required, as part of the overall cleaning process. Not inspecting or cleaning the condenser can lead to equipment issues. If the issue occurs shortly after cleaning the ice machine, the customer will ask why this was not done during the initial cleaning and question the quality of the workmanship. The same is true for the system’s water filter. It should also be inspected and replaced, if necessary.

After the cleaning is complete, always make sure the unit is operating correctly before leaving the job. To ensure that it is, wait for two batches of ice to drop. This ice should not be left in the bin for use as it may contain cleaner or slime from the cleaning process. It should be melted or removed from the bin before leaving.

Publication date: 1/12/2015

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