If you own an ice machine, chances are you’ve asked this question at one point or another. Unfortunately, there is no simple, clear cut explanation for why your ice machine is not making ice. There are many factors that play a part in the ice making process, and there are a lot of things that can go wrong with your ice machine in its lifetime. Hopefully, with this guide, you will be able to identify the problem or problems facing your ice machine and you will be able to get your unit back to doing what it is supposed to do – making ice for you and your establishment. We separated these issues into two categories: External Factors and Human Errors. Some are easy to fix while some require additional time or resources, but with this list, you should be able to locate the problem and fix it accordingly.
Temperature / Weather
This issue is faced by those who allow their ice machine to operate in a commercial kitchen or any other high temperature areas of your establishment. When forced to operate under these conditions, your ice machine may struggle greatly. In fact, most ice machines are rated by their performance in 90 degree heat, and some can lose up to 30% of their ice production when making ice in elevated temperatures. During my years of bartending, (although our ice machine made use of a remote air cooled condenser) we would always notice a dip in ice production when it became excessively hot (95+ degrees over a few days). When the air temperature is too high, water temperatures often increase, and your ice machine requires more time to bring the water to acceptable levels for ice making. This can slow ice making or bring it to what seems like a standstill. For this reason, it helps to purchase an ice machine that makes more ice than you will require on a daily basis.
Almost every air cooled ice machine head and undercounter ice machine requires six inches of clearance for optimum ice making. Manitowoc ice machines advise more, with eight inches as the recommended value. If your ice machine does not have the proper amount of room to operate, it will not be able to take in air to keep the condenser cool. If the condenser is not cool, your ice machine’s ice making power will suffer. Dust and dirt gathered on your condenser coils can also affect ice machine performance, but we will address this later at a greater length. You should always adhere to the minimum clearance recommended by the ice machine manufacturer to get the most out of your ice machine.
Ice / Minerals on Evaporator Plate
Sometimes, mineral deposits will affect the way ice is harvested after being created on the evaporator plate. Ice may continue to grow and thicken as your evaporator plate cannot warm efficiently enough to drop your ice into the bin. Generally, lower quality water can leave behind mineral or scale deposits, and those can build up on your evaporator plate. If these issues are left unattended, your ice machine may continue to produce ice, but it will often be thin, watery, and of low quality. In most cases, a thorough cleaning will solve these problems. If you haven’t already, you should consider adding a water filter to your ice machine, which will greatly reduce (if not completely eliminate) the amount of sediment and minerals in the water used for ice making. Your evaporator plate is one of the most important pieces of your ice machine, so it should be cared for accordingly.
As water travels from the clouds, through the soil, and eventually into your ice machine, it may pick up small, microscopic minerals along the way. When this water runs through your ice machine, these mineral deposits can be left along way, and can build up over time. In doing so, your ice machine will create ice less efficiently. Scale buildup is one of the most common causes of machine malfunction. Everpure provides more information on scale buildup, and details how to identify which minerals are most present in your water. Scale buildup can be minimized and prevented with a proper water filter, and it can be removed with any of the scale removal products found at Ice Machines Plus as well.
The condenser coils can be found behind the vents on the sides or top of your ice machine (air cooled models). Through these vents, warm air is filtered out and away from your ice machine to allow it to make ice with greater ease and to keep the unit cool. These coils however, can collect dust, dirt, and grease which can inhibit the transfer of heat away from the ice machine. In the case of dust and dirt, you can easily wipe them away with a moist towel with little effort. If it is grease buildup, a deeper clean may be warranted, usually one that makes use of a cleaning solution or chemical if the situation is exceptionally bad.
Obviously, water is required to make ice. So, if your ice machine is not making ice, you may need to check that your water supply is adequately connected and providing water to your ice machine. If the water is warmer, it may take longer for your ice machine to create ice. The optimal temperature for water used in your ice machine is 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ice Machine Programming or Settings are Off
While some of your problems can be chalked up to a faulty unit or other external problems, human error may also play a role in your ice machine’s performance. Some ice machines (notably Scotsman’s and Manitowoc’s) can be programmed to make ice on a schedule or to not make ice when it is not required. If your ice machine was set to rest or sleep for a certain amount of time, it is quite possible that someone forgot or neglected to adjust the settings back to ‘ice making’ mode. These settings can be adjusted rather simply however and your ice machine should get back to making ice in little time.
Ice Machine Not Plugged In
Well, this one is a head slapper. You checked all of the previous problems we listed and then you saw the plug resting on the ground behind the ice machine, or that the ice machine was simply turned off! Whether someone tripped over the cord and it was pulled from its socket or your ice machine was unplugged or turned off by someone with malicious intent is for you to find out, but for now, plug it back in and get back to making the ice that your customers need!
Hopefully, upon finishing this list, you will have found the cause of and solution to your problem and your ice machine is once again making ice. If the problem was internal, you may want to consider a water filter from our water filter store, or any of our scale reducing products. If your ice machine is still not making ice, you may have to search locally for a repair person, which may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. In these cases, it is best to assess your options and consider the cost of repairs versus the cost of a new ice machine. In that latter case, we will be able to provide you with the ice machine that best suits your business, so do not hesitate to give us a call!