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Maintenance Tips for Your Ice Machine

By: Mike Thomas

There is nothing like a cool, refreshing drink on a hot summer day, filled to the brim with crystal clear, sparking ice. While some cultures prefer to have a cold drink without ice, Americans prefer ice in cold drinks. Restaurants and other venues that serve food now have ice machines that pump out gallons upon gallons of ice per day. But, did you know that ice machines can be hazardous to public health if not cleaned and maintained properly? Proper maintenance of ice machines is imperative to prevent sickness in consumers. Here are some maintenance tips for ice machines to help keep them germ-free and functioning properly:


Impurities can be present in any water supply, no matter how much it has been properly treated. As a result, the smell and taste of the ice can be altered and can contaminate drinks that are served, or the ice can take on the odors from the freezer or refrigerator and transfer them to the ice cubes. Bins inside the ice machine should be replaced every few years.


It is recommended that a water filter be installed on the water line, and replaced every 2 years. If ice cubes are smaller than normal, replace the water filter, because there could be a possible obstruction or build up of particles in the line. The purpose of a water filter is to:

  • Control and remove sediment from the water, keeping the ice cubes from looking cloudy
  • Eliminate scale and lime buildup that can slow down production of ice
  • Remove unpleasant odors and taste from the ice

Commercial ice machines are breeding grounds for slime and mold growth. Some machines already have plastic parts installed that are guaranteed to be resistant to slime and mold growth.


Ice machines, whether home or commercial, need to be sanitized regularly. While changing the water filter and adding antimicrobial protection are necessary maintenance techniques, they cannot do their job properly if the machine is not emptied out and cleaned regularly. Ice machines can be sanitized with the following:

  • Nickel-safe scale removers
  • Commercial ice machine sanitizer fluid
  • Install an automatic cleaning system
  • Replace condenser fins/air filters every six months to keep the condenser free of lint and grease accumulation
  • In addition to the regular maintenance of the ice machine, a full inspection should be performed yearly by an HVAC professional. They can check for any hidden malfunctions in the ice machine and for any repairs that need to be made. They will inspect the machine and follow these procedures after emptying the machine, and allowing it to return to room temperature:

    • Check for repairs needed in the obscure areas of the machine
    • Test the water for bacteria and other microorganisms
    • Inspect the unit for rats, mice, and insects, and treat if necessary
    • Check gaskets for leakage or contaminants
    • Clean the inside and outside surfaces, reservoir, and plastic hoses with bleach solution, and especially tracks and grids, then rinse thoroughly
    • Change water filter
    • Flush with baking soda and water
    • Oil motor fans, check thermostat and water switches
    • If regular maintenance is performed, the machine kept clean, and proper measures taken to prevent slime and mold, ice machines should last a very long time , be trouble-free, and keep customers happy.


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†Average repair and replacement costs as reported in a nationwide survey: A Study of Homeowners Appliance and Home System Service Experiences Decision Analyst (2011) and reprinted with their written permission.

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