You need preventive ice maker maintenance in order to maximize running efficiency and reduce down time. This will ensure the longevity of your ice machine. Hence a few steps are to be taken in order to maintain your ice machine well.
Clean as well as sanitize the water system. You should clean the air filters on various air-cooled models. Keep on checking the external filter system on a constant basis. Change the cartridges as and when required. The inlet water valve screens need to be inspected.
Perform bearing and auger inspection, especially on the extruded ice makers. The various components, controls, as well as wiring must be inspected. Check for oil spots, loose wires, besides and loose fasteners. Check for corrosion too. The interior and exterior of the bin must be checked for all these purposes.
You will see a kind of separation as ice tends to get formed on an ice machine evaporator plate. This is because minerals tend to separate out from this water. This leads to scaling that sticks to the surface of the various water system components. These scales are much more visible in case of dry surfaces. The color of these scales will depend on the type of minerals that were present in the local water supply. Hence lime or calcium scales are off white in color while iron scales are rusty red in color. There may be algae or slime growth in some locations due to air or water-borne bacteria settling in the wet areas and growing.
This scale build-up tends to insulate the freezing surface that impacts heat transfer. In case the scaling build-up remains, the ice cubes will not be able to harvest properly. This scaling can even stick to the inside of the barrel leading to a decrease in production along with poor quality of ice being formed. This kind of scaling build-up has to be removed. This can be done by circulating a mild phosphoric acid solution all through the water system.
It is important to follow the cleaning instructions that are generally included in the instruction manual which are given with the unit in order to ensure ice maker maintenance. In order to avoid damage to the unit, you need to follow the cleaning instructions as given by the manufacturer. Only the recommended mixing solution must be uses for the cleaner. There are units that have plated evaporators. These would require using a nickel safe cleaner as they are a weaker acidic solution. They help to protect the plating surface. Hence it is not correct to use any commercial ice machine cleaner that is available in the market. Also, do ensure that the stainless steel evaporator plates are cleaned by a cleaner that has 30% or less phosphoric acid.
Next, sanitizers must be used in order to eliminate bacteria and to retard its further growth. The sanitizing instructions are also prescribed in ice maker maintenance. Make use of a commercial ice machine sanitizer or even a weak 5% sodium hypochlorite solution.
Do note that just cleaning is not enough in case of ice maker maintenance. Sanitizing is equally important. This is especially important in case any type of algae or slime is present. Sanitizer will be able to eliminate any bacteria that may be present and retard its further growth. But make sure that you do not exceed the recommend mixing solution. Rinse the system thoroughly after you have sanitized it.
The storage bin too should be cleaned as well as sanitized at the same time. Flush the water system along with the bin before you put the unit back into operation. This way your customer will have clean and fresh ice.
While the cleaning solution is doing its job during the cleaning process, inspect the other items.
The condenser and the air filter must be cleaned too. Check the inlet water valve screen too for any kind of restriction. The condenser fan blades must be checked too. The condenser coil must be cleaned of grease, grime and dirt. Make use of a non-corrosive cleaner. Now rinse it thoroughly with water. Use a fin comb or even a brush on these coil fins. This should be done in case the coil is at a place where it is subjected to outside elements.
In case of water cooled condenser units, disconnect the water connections of the condenser coil. Now cleaning solution can be circulated through the coil. The ice maker maintenance will also require that water regulating valve is cleaned and re-adjusted. This will allow for proper flow once the cleaning process has been completed. The filter cartridge can be serviced or changed. This is present on the external water treatment system.
The control box has to be inspected. Check the electrical components thoroughly in order to look for any loose or burnt connections. The refrigeration system as well as service access valves have to be checked for oil spots and such other evidence of leaks. Do a complete inspection of the unit in order to take care of any future problems. This will help you to correct the problem before any kind of expensive down time occurs.
Flakers tend to produce ice either on, or inside an evaporator cylinder. This ice is then broken away and gets extruded out of the cylinder with the help of a gear motor-driven auger. The auger is able to rotate as well as maintain its positioning in this evaporator cylinder with the help of bearings. Since this auger is turning, bearing wear is going to take place. Hence these bearings have to be inspected as per the manufacturers’ recommendations.
There must be annual bearing inspections. It should be more frequent inspections in case of bad water areas where no water treatment is being used. A visual inspection of the auger as well as bearing surface is recommended once the units start getting older. The assembly fasteners must be securely tightened. These must be checked periodically in ice maker maintenance to ensure that they do not loosen under stress.