Most all restaurants, convenience stores, schools, churches, clubs, bakeries, delis, and bars have ice machines or ice makers. These businesses rely on many other pieces of equipment too. But the primary task of the manager of the business is not to maintain commercial equipment like ice machines. Their task is to provide service for their customers, be it food, liquor, or entertainment. So when the ice machine stops making ice what do they do? Probably they go on the internet and Google ice machine service. You might also use Bing for your search. Well unless Marathon Air somehow magically reached the top of those searches, and you call us, you may be shocked when the tech hands you the bill for your ice machine repair.
I like to give examples of what I find on my daily run of repairing food service equipment and ice machines in the Orlando area. One day I went to a customer who always calls Marathon Air for his commercial air conditioning, ice machine and refrigeration service/repairs. This customer owns gas/convenience stores. He took over a new place and the old manager was still working there carried over from the old owner. They had two large ice makers, both of which were not working.
What The Other Ice Machine Repair Tech Said
I asked the manager what he thought was wrong with these ice machines. He said the previous ice machine technician said both ice machines needed to be replaced because their evaporator plates were bad. The old service tech said he was barely able to keep them going and they would not last much longer. Well, I worked on the first machine and found the evaporator plates to be in exceptional condition. Upon further investigation, I found the problem was a faulty harvest assist regulator valve. I changed the valve, a relatively inexpensive repair when compared to the price of a new ice machine, and the ice fell off the evaporator plate like a new machine.
Ice Machine Repair, Used Machines with Warranties, and The Problem
I am sure the old tech was being called on a regular basis, which allowed him to charge the old owner money to reset the machine and most likely add extra freon to increase the coil temperature (which, by the way, damages the compressor) to help with the harvest of ice. The old tech told them he could get them a used ice machine for $1000.00 with a one year warranty. Well I bet the used machine would not have been as good as the ice machine they already had. And I bet the “warranty” from this guy was as worthless as his ability to fix any ice machine (and that’s even assuming the guy stays in business long enough to service this supposed warranty–not always a guarantee in this industry). Also I’m sure he would have taken the old ice machine and sold that used piece of equipment to someone else, maybe for another $1000.00 with another year warranty. Sounds great, huh?
I do not know if the old repairman was only incompetent or if he was only dishonest, or maybe he was both. Either way the customer who simply cannot know for sure will have to pay for bad service. We at Marathon Air try to be both honest and competent. I see far too often people try to hire cheap repair people and pay lots and lots more for that cheap repair guy. It also happens when they hire the big “professional” company.
The Solution to Your Ice Machine Repair Problem? Really.
Really the only way to not get ripped off is to call Marathon Air. Having the job done correctly and honestly, for a fair price, will save you money on repairing your ice machine or other commercial cooling equipment. I do not know how else to put it.
Ice Machine Computer Resetting Repairs
Ever had this thought: “there must be a computer in this ice machine and it is making me crazy”?
Ice Machine Computer Boards Rule Your World
The scenario is often like this: Ice machine makes two to three batches of ice and then stops. You turn the machine off, then turn it back on, and it makes a few more batches and cuts off. You say “ What the heck?” You are wondering why wont it keep running. Well it is turning off because the friendly computer board, which almost every machine made by man has nowadays, is not very happy with the way things are going. Did I say “made by man”? Oops. I don’t mean to offend the other half of our population consisting of women. I’m sure some women also had a hand in the introduction of computers in controlling machines. Okay, lets move on.
Ice Maker Computers Exist For A Reason
You see, for good reasons, the computer board is connected to various sensing devices throughout the unit. As theses devices input readings to the computer, the computer compares the readings to what the engineers programmed as being acceptable. Let me give you just one of many examples of how a common computer shutdown occurs. Elsewhere on this site, I discuss water issues with your ice machine. One issue that I mentioned was water leaking into the machine, going over a closed water inlet solenoid. If this is happening, water is being added to the water trough throughout the “freeze” cycle. With this particular machine, the “harvest” is activated by the float switch dropping to a pre-determined level. Since water was always dripping into the trough, the machine took a long time to get to “harvest.” The ice formation was slow due to warm water entering the trough and the water level took too long to drop. This lengthy ice making process was a problem for the machine–but why?
If You Are An Ice Maker CPU, 30 Does Not Equal 31
Well the computer was looking for ice to drop in 30 minutes or less. In this case it was taking like 31 minutes. The computer had a stop watch going and said this is taking too long to make ice. It let the machine try making ice three consecutive times and on all three times it took over 30 minutes to make the ice. At this point the computer said “NO MORE” and turned off the ice maker. Then you came along and said “what the heck?”
In The Old Days, The Ice Machine Would Have Destroyed Itself Before Anyone Noticed
In this example the ice machine could have continued making ice without any immediate threat to the world as we know it. However, the machine would be using a lot more electricity and water than necessary. Also by running so long the compressor and condenser fan motor would be overworked. Before the introduction of computers, this machine would have run and run and run without anyone noticing. Since the computer was shutting down the ice making operation it was calling out for help from its Master. PLEASE CALL JOHN at MARATHON AIR to fix me!!!!
The Control Panel is a Useful Ice Machine Repair Red Flag–So Call Us!
Even though the ice machine computer might be driving you a little batty, this control panel in the ice maker is actually a good thing. It is not there to make you “crazy.” It is there to make your machine more efficient and to protect it from damaging itself. Unfortunately the reality is that sometimes an ice machine repair by a professional is unavoidable, but can protect you from causing more expensive damage to your ice maker. Until next time. Don’t worry too much.
How Your Ice Machine Makes Ice
We will state the obvious to start. To make ice one must have water. Okay now that we have an understanding of the obvious we can continue. A mechanical device within any and all makes of ice machines must automatically fill the water reservoir. Two common devices for water inlet control are a float switch and a electromagnetic solenoid. A float switch can be found inside the water reservoir itself. You will see a round or square plastic float connected to an arm. As the water level drops, the float drops in the water reservoir and opens a valve allowing water to enter the pan/reservoir. Conversely, the water inlet solenoid is generally located in the ice machine near the area where the water line enters the unit. The solenoid receives electrical voltage from the control panel, which opens the valve allowing a prescribed amount of water to fill the pan.
How Does Your Ice Machine “Know” There is Enough Water to Make Ice?
Different ice maker manufacturers use different methods of knowing when enough water has entered the water pan. In the case of using a float switch, the water pan is always full of water and water enters the pan whenever the water level drops. Use of a water inlet solenoid requires a second sensing device to tell the solenoid when to turn of the flow of water to the water pan. Some ice machines use a water float that turns off the water inlet solenoid once the water raises to a certain level. Another method is to use a water sensor. The water sensor is usually part of a DC voltage control board. The sensor is simply a metal probe that completes a ground once the water touches the metal probe. As the ground for the DC circuit is completed, a computer board inside the ice machine closes the AC current to the solenoid.
In short, if your ice machine is not getting water in the water reservoir at the start of the ice making freeze stage, check the water inlet valve. To find the water inlet valve, follow the water line that goes into the ice machine. Doing so will lead you to this valve.
The Dreaded Lime Scale
A float valve will usually work until it becomes fouled with lime scale. Scale build up occurs in all ice machines as the water freezes into ice the minerals will not freeze but stay behind in the water pan. Over time, this scale clings to the internal parts that any water comes into contact with. At some point, it will damage the inlet valve or close it off to where it will not allow water to flow through the valve. Scale buildup will also damage an inlet valve that is controlled by a solenoid. This type of valve can be taken apart and cleaned. There is a screen on the inlet side of this valve that collects scale buildup. Clean this screen. Also, clean the diaphragm of the valve. Usually by the time an inlet valve becomes fouled, it needs to be replaced with a new one.
How Failure to Properly Clean May Lead to Equipment Failure
Scale buildup in the water inlet valves can be controlled by the use of a good ice machine water filter, which we will discuss at a later time since too much information at one time for the human brain can be dangerous. Another way to control lime scale buildup is by cleaning your ice machine. By cleaning an ice machine, I do not mean using stainless steel cleaner on the outside of the cabinet. To properly clean an ice machine, you have to use a cleaning solution approved for ice machines and follow the manufactures recommended procedures. We will not go into the cleaning stuff right now but let me just tell you that if it is done with the wrong chemical, you can destroy your evaporator plate.
Back to the Basics
So the ice machine must have water to make ice. If it is not getting water, make sure the machine is getting water to it through the water line going to the machine. If you know water is flowing to the machine, check the water inlet valve to make sure it is working.
The bottom line in this discussion is that preventative maintenance to keep scale buildup down with a water filter and to remove scale with regular cleaning is the best defense against water inlet valve failure.
Ice Maker Not Working? DIY Tips
Ice machines are very complicated pieces of equipment. But, there are a few things you can check yourself before having to call an ice machine repair expert like Marathon Air. Depending on which of the major brands you own, for example, Hoshizaki, Manitwoc, Scottsman or Ice-O-Matic, each manufacturer uses different controls and sequences to make the ice.
The Very Basics of Making Ice
Basically, and obviously, ice machines are freezing water, no matter which company manufactured the ice machine you own. One thing that surprises many people is that, most often, the main reason ice machines don’t work is not refrigeration problems, but problems with water.
If you think for a second, you will agree that you need two things to make ice: refrigeration and water. But most of the problems are due to water supply issues.
Is the Water Filter the Culprit?
As an end-user, one of the things you should check first is to make sure the water filter on your ice machine is not clogged. With water filters, the person who installed them should have written the date of installation on the cartridge itself. Generally, you should replace your water cartridges every year. If your cartridge is over one year old, you could have low water pressure causing the ice maker not to produce ice. So, if you check the date, and discover that the water filter was installed more than one year ago, you should replace the water filter. At Marathon Air, we utilize the best commercial ice machine water filters available, if you want us to replace your filter.
Want to Replace Your Water Filter Yourself?
To replace your water filter, turn off the water supply, unscrew the filter, and purchase and install a new one. You can buy these from restaurant supply stores or equipment distributors or, of course, call us, and we can order and install them for you. You will need the model number and manufacturer of the water filter. Some of the water filter manufacturers are Cuno, 3M, EverPure, and the like, so look for those most common names. Sometimes it is difficult for an end-user to know where to get these filters because there are so many sizes and varieties, which is why it can make your on your equipment if you can’t find the filter. Or, you could make life a lot easier by calling an authorized and knowledgeable professional, such as Marathon Air.
What About The Water Supply to Your Ice Maker?
Assuming your filter is not clogged, you could have other problems. The next easy trouble-shooting item is to make sure no one accidentally turned off the water supply to the ice machine. There is usually a valve near the machine that anyone can turn on or off. For example, a plumber doing repairs might have turned off that valve and now your ice machine might not be working as a result. Or someone may have kinked the line. These are easy things to check and even repair yourself if you are handy.
How Can Marathon Air Help If Your Ice Maker Is Not Working?
At Marathon Air, part of our yearly cleaning service of your ice machine would include replacement of the water filter, in addition to the other aspects of cleaning that are involved in an ice-maker maintenance program. There may be other water issues, but they would be inside the ice machine so really would require an experienced technician to troubleshoot. But we hope at least a few tips will help you avoid some easier repairs.
Please subscribe to our blog for more posts about how you can help yourself when your ice maker is not working–including an upcoming video series! Please also subscribe to our YouTube channel (coming soon) for further ice machine repair video instruction. Our goal is to make this website as much tutorial as possible. Also, other Orlando business owners, please subscribe–and we will subscribe back–because we believe that Orlando business owners should join together on the web as much as possible. Until next time, take care, and enjoy the beautiful springtime weather.
Last week we finished installing one commercial air conditioning unit for Everest Concepts, a cool concept catering company (great for weddings!). They have a gussied up large space near the airport area where they host weddings. We’ve known Avery at Everest Concepts for several years, so he called us first when he needed at least one if not two new commercial air conditioners. He may need another one, but we installed the first and are waiting to see if the cooling is sufficient. His staff reports being much happier now that they are cooler!
Later in the week, we finished installing a 16 SEER unit in Clermont for a luxury homeowner.
We also repaired an ice machine for one of our regular customers in Largo, Florida–Long John Silvers. We service many of their locations in Tampa and Orlando. Their ice machine had a Freon leak, which was no problem to repair.
Of course, we had lots of other jobs, but those were a few of the memorable highlights. If you have an ice machine, please subscribe to our updates because eventually we hope to add instructional videos and information about ice machines that might help you keep them running better on your own.
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- On Deck This Week: Commercial Air Conditioning, Refrigeration, and Ice Machines : Last week we finished installing one commercial air conditioning unit for Everest Concepts, a cool concept catering company (great for weddings!). They have a gussied up large space near the...