The frequency of cleaning depends on the quality of water going to the ice machine and the environment surrounding it. Periodically empty and clean ice storage bins, regardless of the ice machine cleaning schedule.
Most ice machines are sealed well, which means they do not require a lot of maintenance aside from wiping the outside of the unit and cleaning the condensing coils. Because these are on the back of the ice machine, coils can be easy to overlook. Brushing or vacuuming this area once a month typically will suffice. A service agent will blow out and chemically clean washable filters when servicing the units.
As they are typically filled with ice, bins can be a challenge to clean. Service agents will typically take care of this during their twice-a-year service calls. For operators looking to do this themselves, it’s important to use NSF-approved sanitizers and avoid cleaners that leave a residue.
Do not use a regular delimer to clean nickel-coated evaporator plates. Doing so will result in the coating being stripped off. Use nickel-safe cleaner for this component. Even when using the correct cleaner, the evaporator plate eventually loses its nickel coating and needs replacement at some point. Also, any leakage can produce rust, which will cause a problem during health inspections.
Ice makers lose production over time. Also, compressors will get noisier before failing. Older machines may be inefficient in terms of energy usage, especially at the end of the service life. When a unit reaches eight or more years old and repair costs equal half the price of a new machine, consider replacing the ice maker.
Operators purchasing a new ice maker should consider water conditioning, as mineral deposits are very difficult to remove. A quick water test will determine the hardness of the water and mineral content. Using the correct water filter can add years onto the service life of an ice machine.
Some models allow operators to flush more or less water through the system, which increases efficiency and reduces scale build up.
It has become more common for manufacturers to treat plastic inside the food zone with either an antibacterial coating or ultraviolet bulb that draws air from outside the food zone to retard bacterial growth. Auto cleaning systems also are available, which connect to the unit for cleaning and sanitizing the evaporator.
Ice machines typically last between 8 and 12 years.