When was the last time you made a visual inspection of your ice machine?

Look at the front, back, top, sides, and bottom of your ice machine. Take off the front panel and look inside. What do you see?

Is the condenser coated with dust, dirt, grease, or lint? Is the evaporator coated with mineral deposits, slime, and algae? These conditions, if they exist, are definitely reducing the efficiency of the ice machine.

Not only are they reducing the ice-making efficiency of the unit, they are reducing its life expectancy too — not a very good return on your investment.

What goes wrong

A dirty condenser blocks air from flowing through it. This increases head pressure and puts more stress on the compressor.

Not only is the compressor working harder with a dirty condenser, the unit is consuming more energy, and increasing cycle times as a result.

A dirty evaporator causes all kinds of other problems. Dirt or mineral buildup on an evaporator acts as an insulator and that inhibits proper heat transfer.

It is also very important to keep the water pump, water hose lines, water distribution tube, water float valve, water dump valve, and water trough area clean.

If any of these parts are clogged, they can contribute to lower efficiencies. Sometimes a water-related cause can simulate a refrigeration system diagnosis.

While you’re checking for dirt, don’t forget to look for damage and obvious signs of wear. A simple part replacement can keep the unit from going out of service when it’s most needed.

Clean, sanitary ice

Despite its reputation as the “forgotten food,” ice cannot escape the risk of food-borne illnesses that result from unclean or unsanitary equipment.

Manitowoc Ice, Inc., offers operators these tips to eliminate the threat of bacteria in ice used at their establishments:

  • Remember that cleaning is only the first step. Sanitizing is a necessary second step to guarantee that bacteria are removed from all parts of the machine.

  • Follow a regular schedule for cleaning and sanitizing your ice machine’s water distribution system. It should be cleaned and sanitized at least once every three months.

  • Consider investing in an ice machine with built-in cleaning and sanitizing technology.

  • Do not place any food items or containers in the ice storage bin. It is not a refrigerated storage area.

  • Follow all Food Safety Council and HACCP sanitation guidelines.

The bottom line is that a properly maintained ice machine ensures performance and efficiencies to factory specifications, as well as safe ice, which is always a benefit to you and your customer.

For more information, contact your local Manitowoc Ice representative; the company’s Manitowoc, Wis., headquarters (800-545-5720); or visit www.manitowocice.com (website).