If your commercial ice machine is not making ice don’t call the repairers in right away. The chances are you can fix it yourself.
This guide will help you if:
- Your commercial ice machine is not making ice
- Your commercial ice machine is freezing up
- Your ice machine is not making enough ice
- Your machine is not switching on
- The ice your machine makes is of poor quality
We’ll tell you how to identify serious problems and when to call out a technician. But try out these simple troubleshooting tips first. They could save you time, money and frustration.
1.) Check if there is enough breathing room for your ice machine.
Ice machines need space in order to breathe and operate efficiently. As a general rule, air-cooled ice machines need at least 6-inches of clearance for optimal airflow and icemaking. Check with your instruction manual in case more space is needed.
2.) Check if your ice machine has been cleaned recently.
It’s important to give your ice machine a good clean on a regular basis — with special care given to the filter. This is important — not only because no one wants to drink dirty ice — but to remove scale and microscopic mineral deposits. All of which can build up over time and cause your ice machine to break down.
A failure to keep a regular cleaning schedule is actually one of the most common reasons why an ice machine is not making ice. You should check your user manual and clean it accordingly.
At a minimum, to keep minimise scale build-up, we would recommend replacing the filter every 6 months. It’s easy when you do it regularly. Scale, deposits and grime can easily be removed with scale removal products.
Ice machines are relatively simple machines and they almost all operate in a similar way. It’s normal for them to throw up some faults every now and then — every piece of machinery does. But because they are quite simple, the chances are they won’t be all that difficult to fix.
3.) Check the condenser coils for dust.
Ice machines are usually placed up against a wall. So it’s very common for the condenser coils (always on the back of the unit) to catch dust or oily, warm air. Which then gets trapped on the coils and cannot be filtered away from the machine.
If they are left uncleaned, your coils will soon grow a furry coat of dust and grime. This coating will inhibit your coils’ ability to get rid of excess heat — the result being that the ice will soon end up of poor quality, being soft, watery or murky.
You can easily get rid of this dust coating with a damp cloth. However, grease can be trickier to deal with and may require a chemical or specially formulated cleaning solution if the situation is particularly bad.
4.) Check your machine is on a flat surface
If you’ve just installed your commercial ice machine, check the flooring is level. If it’s worked fine in the past but is playing up now, check if the feet of the machine need to be adjusted. You should be able to find levelling instructions in the user manual.
5.) Check it’s not in a location that’s too hot
If your machine is too close to hot equipment — such as an oven — then the temperature may be inhibiting its ability to make ice. Consider moving it to a cooler area.
6.) Check the ice thickness probe is adjusted correctly
If your probe is not adjusted, the ice may come out shallow or not fully formed. Take a look at the right settings in your user manual and adjust if needed. If you cannot make it align the way you want it, then it may be time to call in a professional.
7.) Check the water level isn’t too high or low
If the water levels are too low, your machine won’t be able to deliver large amounts of high-quality ice.
And if the water level is too high then you’ll have the opposite problem. It will create too much ice, which can clog up the insides and cause your ice machine to freeze up.
8.) Check the water pressure is appropriate
This isn’t really a problem with the machine itself. But it will impact how your ice machine functions. If the water pressure delivered to your building is generally too low, then it’s worth checking in with your local water company for assistance.
9.) And finally… check it’s properly switched on
“Switching on” your ice machine is not always as straightforward as plugging it into the wall. There are quite a few things you’ll want to check:
- The machine itself is turned on — believe me, this trips up more people than you might realise.
- The circuit breaker has tripped or the fuse has blown — in which case you’ll either need to reset the breaker or replace the fuse.
- The water supply is disconnected — Check that the hose is still connected, and also that the water supply valve is switched on.
- The control is in the off position or broken — Check if the power control is switched on. If it’s broken, you can easily get this repaired by a specialist.
- The ice thickness probe isn’t connected right — Make sure it’s connected by following the instructions in your user guide. Sometimes the probe can also be dirty, and that can prevent your ice machine from harvesting the ice as well as it should. So give it a good clean.
When to call in the experts
Sometimes the problem with your commercial ice maker not making ice is too big of a job to fix without help. Here are some telltale signs that the issue is more serious:
1.) Your ice machine is making strange noises
If there’s a funny noise going on, you’ll know immediately that something is not right. A failing compressor, faulty drain pump and bad condenser fan motor can all cause your commercial ice machine to sing differently.
The noise is likely down to three parts:
- Condenser fan — It’s likely the fan will need placing if it’s rattling about.
- Compressor — If you suspect a problem with the compressor, then a service engineer will likely need to fix or replace the compressor.
This is especially important as the compressor involves recharging and recovering refrigerant gas. If it isn’t repaired properly, you could be breaking the law.
- Recirculation pump — If the reservoir is full and the pump is still noisy, the motor is likely failing and will need to be replaced.
- Drain pump — A noisy drain pump could just have debris stuck in it. Unplug your machine; check it out and give it a clean. If it’s still making noises, then the pump may need replacing.
2.) If the water-regulating valve has a leak or the water filters are broken.
In both cases, they’ll need servicing by a professional.
3.) You’ve checked everything in this article, and given your ice machine a good deep clean
If after consulting this article you still can’t get to the bottom of the matter, it’s worth calling out a specialist.
The good news is, ice machines are generally simple machines and straightforward to fix. Whatever it is you are struggling with, it’s likely an issue that can be resolved pretty quickly.
Our fully trained and experienced commercial ice machine engineers operate in London, the South East of England and the Midlands. So if you’re in our service area, give us a call or send us an email.
And if your broken ice machine is an emergency, we can get out to you in under four hours if you live in Greater London (inside the M25).
Visit our commercial ice machine repairs page here. Or call or write to us to speak to a real professional.