Cleaning & Maintaining Remote Ice Machines

A common misconception is that if a remote ice machine is working, it does not need maintenance. This is not the case.

Remote ice machines need to be on a regular maintenance cycle as they utilize many working parts and ice is considered food. Just like dishes need to be regularly cleaned, so do these units. The majority of the maintenance tasks cannot be accomplished by end users, so a service agent should be utilized.

Here, Vidal Munoz, Jr., service manager, Commercial Kitchen Parts & Service, San Antonio, explains the cleaning and maintenance requirements for remote ice machines.

  • Approximately 95 percent of the time, we find mold inside the ice bin because it has not been emptied, cleaned and sanitized.
  • On the remote part, look at the condenser coil’s condition to ensure it remains clean. This is sometimes in an out-of-the-way place, like on the roof or in a high-traffic area, which can cause excess dirt to accumulate. Inspect and clean this component at least quarterly.
  • Descale the evaporator. Most units have a deliming or descaling feature, but service agents generally use this feature during maintenance calls. 
    If this is not done properly and flushed, the ice can be contaminated by the chemicals.
  • Ice machines have water distribution systems that have a tendency to grow mold, so pull these parts off quarterly to clean or replace them.
  • End users can maintain contact areas. What we often find is it’s a good practice to completely empty ice bins at least every quarter since trash can get buried inside. We’ve found plates, cups, knives, wrappers, etc., that are dirty and can compromise food safety.
  • A visible and extreme indication that there’s a problem is when the ice isn’t uniform in size and shape. This may signify that the evaporator needs attention. Also, cloudy ice is a sign that the unit needs servicing.
  • If end users notice a reduction in ice production, a service call is needed.