Of all the things that can cause ice machine problems, you wouldn’t think cold would be one of them. The truth is, the cold weather can lead to a host of ice machine problems, such as extended harvest times, freeze-ups, and cracked water lines.
We’ve identified the most common problems you’ll see come winter – and the best ways to fix them.
Extended Harvest Times
Some ice machines, such as KM Hoshizaki models, use hot gas (along with water) to assist in releasing ice cubes off the evaporator plate so they can fall into your ice storage bin. The thermistor, a component similar to a thermometer, measures the heat coming off the evaporator. As soon as the temperature reaches 48 degrees, a defrost timer starts to count down to the next ice machine cycle.
Both ambient air and incoming water temperature play a significant role in determining how long this process takes. If the air, water, or a combination of both fall below 45 degrees, it extends the amount of time it takes for the evaporator to reach 48 degrees.
When this happens, the defrost timer takes longer to start, and harvest cycles extend. Together, that means less ice for you’re and your customers.
If the ice machine has too many extended harvest cycles, the ice machine shuts down into a safe mode. During the safe mode, your ice machine won’t produce ice unless the machine is reset, and the temperature rises.
So, how do you prevent your ice machine from encountering extended harvest cycles? The best way is to make sure the ice machine is installed in a temperature-controlled room where the thermostat is set to 70-75 degrees. In this setting, your surrounding air temperature will remain at optimal levels and maintain a steady ice supply.
The temperature of your incoming water needs to stay above 45 degrees. This is a lot harder to control but insulating your water pipes is a good start. If that doesn’t work, make sure to call a plumber to help you find the best solution.
Frozen Components and Water Lines
When it comes to ice machines, ice should stay on the evaporator plate, not freeze inside of vital ice machine components. Some of these components include:
- Water inlet valves
- Float switches
- Evaporator plates
- Water Pumps
To name a few.
Freezing temperatures around your ice machine will freeze the water around ice machine components, causing them to seize. Frozen ice machine components can lead to a host of ice machine problems that require a qualified ice machine technician to fix.
The best way to keep water flowing through your ice machine is to keep the temperature around your ice machine between 70-75 degrees. This ensures that the ice machine’s components stay within the proper temperatures.
Frozen water lines, although not technically part of your ice machine, can also cause ice machine problems.
If you’ve ever stuck a full bottle of water in your freezer, then you know that when water freezes, it expands. If this happens to your water system, ice will burst through water lines and prevent water from entering your ice machine.
Broken water lines lead to freeze-ups, where your ice machine will shut down into a safe mode and stop producing ice altogether. If you have a broken water line, you’ll need t call a plumber to have them fixed.
Again, insulating your water pipes is the best way to keep water lines from freezing. A plumber familiar with your area will know the best way to protect your water pipes.
Bin Switch Failures
Thermostatic bin controls use temperature to determine when your ice bin is full enough to shut down the ice machine.
When ice reaches the thermostatic bin control inside your ice bin, a small bulb with a refrigerant charge waits until the temperature drops. When the bulb gets cold enough, it sends a signal to the ice machine to shut down.
When the surrounding air temperature drops below 50 degrees, the thermostatic bulb has a harder time reading the temperature accurately. If this happens, the machine will stay off and won’t produce ice.
Again, maintaining a 70-75 degree temperature around the ice machine will keep the bin control operating correctly.
Don’t Let Cold Weather Cause Winter Ice Machine Problems
Ice machines are far more temperamental than they look! To maintain a reliable supply of ice, you need the right temperature requirements. If a cold winter is on the horizon, make sure you prepare for potential ice machine problems.
At Ice-Masters, our experienced ice machine technicians can help to make sure your ice machine is ready for the long winter months. With thorough preventive maintenance, we help keep your ice machine running year-round. Contact us today!