Ice Machine Preventive Maintenance

Proper maintenance is essential for optimizing performance, minimizing downtime, and extending the lifespan of an ice machine. Familiarizing yourself with the essential steps involved in conducting a comprehensive preventive maintenance (PM) check on a commercial ice machine is paramount.

Ice machine PM check list:

  1. Thoroughly clean and sanitize the water system.
  2. Ensure air filters are clean in air-cooled models.
  3. Inspect the external filter system and replace cartridges as necessary.
  4. Verify the condition of the inlet water valve screens.
  5. Conduct a detailed inspection of bearings and augers in extruded ice makers.
  6. Perform a visual examination of components, controls, and wiring for indications of oil spots, loose wires, fasteners, corrosion, and other issues.
  7. Clean both the interior of the bin and the exterior of the unit meticulously.

By diligently addressing these tasks during an ice maker preventative maintenance check, you can safeguard the ice machine while preventing potential problems and promoting its overall longevity.

Water System Sanitization and Cleaning:

When ice forms on the evaporator plate of an ice machine, minerals in the water separate and create scale, which adheres to the surfaces of the water system components. This scale becomes more visible when the surfaces are dry. The color of the scale varies depending on the minerals present in the local water supply. For example, lime or calcium scale appears off-white, while iron scale turns rusty red. In some locations, algae or slime growth may occur due to bacteria settling in wet areas and thriving.

Scale build-up on a cuber evaporator plate insulates the freezing surface, hindering heat transfer. If left unaddressed, the ice cubes will stick to the plate and fail to harvest properly, resulting in excessive ice accumulation and a freeze-up. On auger-driven flaker or cubelet machines, scale adheres to the inside of the barrel, reducing production and compromising ice quality. It is crucial to remove scale build-up by circulating a mild phosphoric acid solution throughout the water system.

Cleaning instructions are typically provided in the unit's instruction manual. Always follow the manufacturer's cleaning instructions to avoid damaging the unit. Use the appropriate type and concentration of cleaner. Units with plated evaporators require a nickel-safe cleaner, which has a milder acidic solution to protect the plating surface.

After completing the cleaning process, the unit should be sanitized. Follow the sanitizing instructions using a commercial ice machine sanitizer or a 5% sodium hypochlorite solution, such as household bleach. This step is particularly important if algae or slime is present. Sanitizing eliminates bacteria and inhibits further growth. It is essential to follow the recommended mixing solution and thoroughly rinse the system after sanitizing.

The storage bin should also be cleaned and sanitized. Flush the water system and bin thoroughly before putting the unit back into operation. This ensures that your customers receive clean and fresh ice.

Cleaning and Inspecting

While waiting for the cleaning solution to work, you can complete other steps in the PM check.

Clean the condenser and/or air filter if applicable to the unit and check the inlet water valve screen for any restrictions. If the condenser coil is covered in grease, grime, or dirt, use a non-corrosive cleaner and rinse it thoroughly with water. You may need to use a fin comb or brush to clean the coil fins, especially for remote condenser units exposed to outside elements.

For water-cooled condenser units, disconnect the water connections of the condenser coil and circulate a cleaning solution through the coil. Clean and readjust the water regulating valve for proper flow after completing the cleaning process. If an external water filter/treatment system is present, service or replace the filter cartridge.

Inspect the control box and electrical components for loose or burnt connections. Examine the refrigeration system and service access valves for oil spots or signs of leaks. A comprehensive visual inspection of the unit can help identify potential issues, allowing you to address them before they lead to costly downtime.


Flaker Bearing and Auger Inspection

Flakers produce ice on or inside an evaporator cylinder. The ice is then broken away and extruded out of the cylinder by a gear motor-driven auger. Bearings facilitate the rotation of the auger and maintain its positioning in the evaporator cylinder. Bearing wear is inevitable since the auger is in constant motion. Flaker bearings should be inspected as recommended by the manufacturers. It is suggested that conducting bearing inspections happen annually. In areas with poor water quality or without water treatment, more frequent inspections may be necessary. The top bearing can be checked using a 0.02-inch wire feeler gauge. It is also advisable to visually inspect the auger and bearing surface, especially as the units age. Periodically tighten all assembly fasteners to ensure they remain secure under stress.


Cleaning the Exterior

The final step in the PM process is to clean the exterior. Use a soft cloth and a neutral cleaner to wipe down the stainless steel surfaces of the unit and storage bin.

Regular preventive maintenance checks save both time and money. They also provide an opportunity to showcase your expertise as a service provider and emphasize the benefits of routine PM inspections to your ice machine customers. Both you and your customers will greatly benefit from this proactive approach.



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