A commercial ice machine is usually one of the hardest working pieces of equipment in your bar or restaurant. There are a few simple care and maintenance procedures you can do to get the most out of your commercial ice machine and protect your investment.
Water Filter Replacement
Water filters are extremely important to extending the life of your machine. A water filter will remove or reduce the amount of sediment and minerals from the water, keeping the ice clean and clear, it will remove odors and bad taste. Some manufacturers may even extend warranties for ice machines that have a filter on their water line.
Working water filters will also slow scale build-up which reduces ice production.
Some commercial ice machine manufacturers like Hoshizaki have begun making machines that have cleanable removable antimicrobial protection filters built-in to protect the components from dust, lint, grease or flour. Scotsman has a patented water purging system called WaterSense to reduce scale build up in the machine. These filters and designs help to inhibit the growth of slime and mold for the life of the machine.
Slime and mold not only taste bad but are a health hazard for anyone consuming the water. Cleaning an ice machine and keeping it free of slime, mold, dust, or another growth is incredibly important.
You should also have a dedicated ice scoop that only comes in contact with the ice in the machine. Newer health regulation has different requirements for location, size, material, and sanitation of ice scoops. This will help keep your ice bin clean and free of any residue.
Sanitizing Your Machine
If you change your water filter regularly and invest in an antimicrobial agent you are well on your way to extending the life and performance of your ice machine. Your ice machine should be emptied and thoroughly cleaned every six months. You can clean your ice machine with a nickel-safe scale remover and an ice machine sanitizer.
By taking the time every six months to clean your machine and change water filters and antimicrobial devices, you can greatly increase the life and performance and power usage of your commercial ice machine. These preventative measures will not only enhance the experience of your patrons but regular maintenance will also guarantee the terms of your warranty in the unlikely chance something happens.
Very few end users fully understand the importance of properly cleaning and sanitizing their ice machines, storage bins, and dispensers. Many don’t even view ice as a food commodity. Yet the quality and safety of every beverage they serve as well as the longevity and power consumption of their equipment depend on the proper maintenance of this equipment.
Adding to the problem is that some contractors and technicians may not realize the importance of how to properly perform this task and how to help customers maintain the quality of ice that is being consumed. Many rushes through ice machine cleaning and sanitizing using untrained, entry-level personnel to minimize the cost to their customers. In reality, they are doing their customers a disservice by not being effective at eliminating bacterial growth and scale deposits.
Here are some tips that can help your company do a thorough job when cleaning this equipment and help ensure your customers’ food safety.
- WATER FILTRATION
- CLEAN COMPLETELY
- USE APPROVED CHEMICALS
Use only chemicals for scale removal that are approved by the manufacturer. Some materials and the plating of metal surfaces can be damaged by improper chemicals. Plastic pieces and hoses can be removed and cleaned with stronger chemicals, if necessary. Always use hot water when mixing chemicals, and always mix them to the suggested strength. Adding more cleaner will not help. Running cleaner through the machine longer doesn’t help either. After 20-30 minutes of cleaning, the pH level of the cleaner is back to neutral and it is no longer effective.
Mix up a new batch of cleaner and re-clean, as necessary. Never mix different cleaners together or add more to a mixed solution. Remember, as with all chemicals, follow the material safety data sheet (MSDS) guidelines for personal protective equipment, and be aware of how to treat exposure. Be prepared to properly clean up any accidental spills. Safety glasses or goggles and long chemical gloves are a must.
- CLEANING TOOLS
- ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS
- FLAKE AND NUGGET MACHINES
- RUN A PRODUCTION CHECK
For a nugget or flake ice machine, it is even easier. Catch ice for 15 minutes and weigh. Multiply by four and then again by 24 and that will total the 24-hour production that can then be compared to the manufacturer’s specifications for the given ambient and water temperatures. After ensuring proper operation, a tech may need to coach the customer on proper ice management. Remind them not to waste ice. Explain to them to fill all drink stations and bar boxes at the end of the night and first thing in the morning and to rake the ice down afterward to ensure the machine is running 24 hours a day. This will ensure maximum production, especially during high summer demand.
By making sure the proper water filtration is in place, cleaning the equipment properly and regularly (generally every six months), and educating customers on how to get the most out of their ice machines, a company can provide exceptional service and help eliminate one of the industry’s customers’ biggest headaches: running out of ice. In addition, a tech can ensure customers are receiving quality beverages, as well.