Ice Machine Not Working? Let Us Help!

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

High Temperature Thermometer

Temperature increases can kill your ice machine’s production

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.

Improper Clearance

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.

Scale Buildup

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.

Dirty Condenser

Dust on Ice Machine Condenser

The dust on this condenser is inhibiting airflow to the ice machine

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.

Water Issues

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

Programming Indigo Ice Machine

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!

Ice Machine Not Making Ice

If your ice machine consistently looks like this, it may be time to find a new one for your business.

  • Bob W

    I have a Kitchenaid under counter ice machine that has stopped making ice. The machine was recently cleaned and afterwards will not make ice. The unit sounds like it is trying but when you touch the evaporator chill plate it is just cool. Definitely not cold enough to freeze water. Does anyone have an idea of what the problem may be?

    • Ian Hartley

      id have to say check your condenser fan motor and Freon Pressure, also if it has a control board with an LED that might help you diagnose, every machine has its own way of running and time that it takes to harvest, hope this helps

      • Bob W

        Ian, Thank you for your response. I did check the fan motor and it is working fine. I have not checked the Freon as I do not have the equipment to do so. The control board is LED but I haven’t a clue of how to check that out. I did notice that there is a continuous stream of water coming out from the bottom of the Recirculating Pump. The stream is about as large as a pencil lead. Would this be an indication that the pump is failing and if so could that also be tied into the lack of ice building up on the evaporator tray?

        • Ian Hartley

          Make sure the float is coming up all the way. If it takes in fresh water constantly it won’t freeze either

          • Bob W

            Ian, I am back in the ice. My problem was a cracked water reservoir where the pump housing fits into the reservoir. This is what was causing the stream of water to pour out from under the pump. I fixed the existing reservoir rather than install a new one. We’ll see how long it lasts. Most likely will need to replace the reservoir at some point. The bin is full of ice and all is well. Again, I sincerely appreciate all your help. Can’t thank you enough.

          • Ian Hartley

            Awesome. I try to help any time I can!

  • Frederick Zachery

    I have an Ice-O-Matic EF250A32S flaker. The machine was not run very long, but they didn’t have a filter and there is about a have inch of red mug in the water reservor. The water seal is gone. Water pours out of the bottom. The top bearing on the evaporator is GONE, chewed up. There is a good bit of brass dust in the ice bin. Is the tube for the auger brass? Or just the top? Is this a sure sign the auger and/or auger tube is bad? If so, is there any place I can buy a used evaporator? If not

  • Walter Hughey

    my icemaker has quit pumping water from the bottom into the drain line, any suggestions?

  • Del

    I just hooked up my Manitowoc ice machine all power and plumbing is correct, but now it will not turn on. What could be the problem, can any one help please.

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  • Ray

    I have a Scotchman ice machine model #SCE275-1G was working fine, now it won’t make ice, it comes on like it making ice but it does not make ice, it just goes through the cycles. I cleaned it, cleaned the filter, cleaned the evap., nothing works. Sometime there is an error light which states refigeration problem but i had that checked and it was fine. There is allot of water that is draining when it working through the cycle of making ice

  • jr

    i have a scottsman co322sa and it makes ice but hangs on the thickness gauge