Ice Machine Cleaning/Maintenance and the Importance of a Properly Trained Technician

By Pat Finley -Master Certified Lead Technician

Ice machines are one of the most important pieces of equipment in any commercial kitchen or restaurant. Afterall, ice is one of the most popular items you serve to your customers. Proper restaurant equipment service including cleaning of your unit, promotes smooth operation and minimizes costly down time. It is also important to have clean ice for your customers to enjoy as it protects flavor, and nobody wants to deal with dirty ice complaints!

Did you know, ice is considered food and needs to be handled as such. Ice buckets and scoops should be cleaned and sanitized regularly as well.

Also, did you know that if your ice machine goes down, it takes up to 24 hours for your bin to fill back up after the repair is complete? 

A poorly serviced machine can cause a multitude of issues, chief amongst them is slow or no production of ice, as well as inconsistent shape or clarity of ice.

Recently in the General Parts Group’s Indianapolis branch, I led some in-house ice machine training. Four of our newest technicians came along to what turned out to be a great training session. Together we went through proper cleaning procedures and techniques as described below, there is no pouring chemicals in and calling it good here!

As a courtesy before I start, I like to remove the ice from the bin and fill up any ice stations in the establishment. I also ask the manager if they would like some saved. The maintenance process can take several hours, and I do not what the customer to run out of ice.

Tip. Do not store ice in the freezer as it will freeze together in a big chunk!   

We start the maintenance and cleaning process by running a descaler or cleaner through the machine using the units cleaning function. While this is running, we melt all the ice out of the bin. This gives a chance to clean the underside of the unit as well as the bin. Then we take the time to strip the unit down and clean each individual component that touches water. This ensures that any limescale or other build up is removed. Once everything is clean, we then reassemble all the parts back into the unit. Now starts the sanitizing process. We run sanitizer through the unit utilizing the same cleaning function as earlier. We also mix up a solution of sanitizer and water, put it into a spray bottle, and sanitize the bin and bottom of the ice machine. From this point forward we use gloves to ensure everything is as clean and sanitized as possible. Finally, we rinse out the bin and restore the unit to operation and check the filter dates to ensure they are still within their effective lifespan.

Now it is time to test the operation of the unit.  We like to make a batch to let the unit get back into normal operation. Then we time the next three batches of ice to verify the unit is working properly and consistently. If times are not consistent, further diagnosis will be required. If everything is good, we melt off the ice it made and return unit to normal operation. Remember, it may take up to 24 hours to fill your bin up completely.

If you are unsatisfied with your ice quality or production, reach out to your local General Parts Group branch branch for service on (888) 498-1238