Good practices enhance food safety and extends equipment life.
Make Ice Machine Maintenance a Priority
Commercial ice machines can often seem like remarkable pieces of machinery. Just plug it in and leave it to create the ice you need to cool your customers’ drinks or pack your perishables. As with any other machine, however, your ice maker needs regular maintenance to ensure that it remains a valuable asset to your business. Though it may seem like a hassle, a little bit of extra work now is worlds better than sick customers or a broken part later. Looking for more info on how to keep your ice maker in tip-top shape? Our friendly customer service representatives are always available to answer any maintenance questions you might have.
With everything you have to keep track of as an owner or manager of a restaurant or food service company, it can be tempting to let the maintenance of your ice machine fall by the wayside. The consequences of doing so, however, can be disastrous. Because the FDA classifies ice as a food, both your ice and ice machines are just as subject to inspection as your refrigerator and the perishable items held within. That being the case, your restaurant or facility might be hit with poor health inspection grades if your ice is found to be laden with bacteria; your company could even be put at risk if a customer becomes sick thanks to an improperly-maintained ice machine. Thankfully, it need not be complicated to ensure that your ice maker remains clean. By following the below steps, you can be confident that the ice you’re serving your customers is every bit as safe as it is refreshing.
Follow Ice Machine Maintenance Schedules
The first thing to keep in mind is the frequency with which your ice machine needs maintenance. Though this varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, you should expect to conduct this maintenance at least two to four times a year; your owner’s manual can provide information specific to your model regarding the method and frequency of its maintenance. Other manufacturers provide their maintenance guidelines on the machine itself; Hoshizaki ice machines, for example, include a label on the inside of the front panel that includes instructions on how to properly clean your model. Be sure to follow your manufacturer’s guidelines no matter the style of your ice machine, as not doing so may cause damage to the unit.
Proper Cleaning and Sanitizing
It’s not enough that your ice machine looks clean; as any responsible foodservice purveyor knows, the real danger comes from what you can’t see. Though some bacteria growth common to ice machines is visible – anyone who’s opened up their unit and found slime or algae on its components can attest to that – you can’t assume that your machine is free of microbes just because you can’t see their presence. As part of its regular maintenance, the following parts of the machine must be both cleaned.
- All elements of the water system
- Air filters (for air-cooled models)
- Evaporator plates (if buildup of calcium, iron or lime is present)
- Condenser coil
- Condenser fan blades
- Storage bin
Most of the cleaning process can be conducted using a solution engineered for ice machines; your sanitation services provider should have one available. Be sure to pick a variety that is 30% or less phosphoric acid, as a concentration higher than that may do damage to the stainless steel elements of your units. Removable parts should be brushed clean, as should the condenser coil. A cloth can be used on rubber elements like gaskets and O-rings. Once all parts are clean, those that come into contact with water or ice must be sanitized with either bleach or a commercial solution, rinsed, and allowed to air dry. Make sure that your hands are thoroughly washed when handling these parts post-sanitization to avoid infecting them with bacteria all over again. Be sure also to circulate ice machine cleaning solution through the water system while its parts are removed and to flush it with clean water. Finally, reassemble your machine, give its exterior a good wipe down with a basic cleaner, and check to make sure that your unit has plenty of room to breathe; limited air flow can lead to malfunctions and poor performance.
If you would like more information on proper Ice machine cleaning and maintenance or want piece of mind that your machine is up to hygiene standards,
Contact us for more information and your free quotation today to have your Ice machine cleaned and serviced!
Result of poor maintenance and cleaning.