Maintaining an Ice Machine

Foodservice operators need to take into consideration mainteance needs when selecting an ice machine.

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While it might seem a little clichéd to say this, it's true: ice machines are similar to automobiles in that the better the foodservice operator takes care of their unit the longer it will last. While the typical service life for an ice machine is expected to be 10 years, it is not uncommon for some well-maintained units to last 20 years or longer.

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Ice machine maintenance is pretty straightforward and mainly consists of the following steps:

  • Cleaning the unit
  • Sanitizing the unit
  • Changing the unit's air filters

In addition, most manufacturers of ice machines recommend using a water filter to help remove impurities, particularly scale. This helps ensure better ice is produced and that key components, such as the evaporator, last longer and perform better.

Foodservice operators should perform or have a service agent handle these steps every six months, at a minimum. Operating conditions may require restaurants to accelerate their maintenance steps more frequently, though. Places with airborne yeast, for example, will need to take these steps more frequently to keep the unit running effectively and efficiently.

Maintaining their ice machine is one aspect many foodservice operators don't consider when buying a new unit. Some questions to ask include: Can our staff do it? Is this something that a certified service agent should handle? Many units are designed for the end user to perform much of the maintenance but the ease of cleaning and sanitizing varies from maker to maker.

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