The Effects of Hard Water in Your Ice Maker

Reading Time: 3 minutes Ice Machine Care

Hard water in your ice maker

Kansas is one of many areas in the US that suffers from water with high mineral concentration, otherwise known as hard water. While drinking hard water won’t harm you, it can cause some severe problems if it enters your ice machine. In this article, we’ll show you what happens when you get hard water in your ice maker.

What is Hard Water?

Hard water is water with high mineral content. As water percolates through the soil, it picks up calcium and magnesium along the way.

Areas where the ground is made of volcanic (igneous) rock have softer water. Areas like Kansas have more sedimentary rock which hardens water.

Can Hard Water in Your Ice Maker Cause Damage?

With hard water in your ice maker, the calcium and magnesium deposits to create scale. Scale is a hard substance with the consistency of chalk which bonds surfaces.

When hard water is in your ice maker, it leads to serious issues. Scale binds to the ice machine’s components, like floats switches and evaporator plates. When these components are covered I scale, it can lead to expensive ice maker repairs. If you plan on installing an ice machine or ice dispenser, it’s best to include a water treatment system to prevent the forming of scale.

How Do I Treat Hard Water in My Ice Machine?

There are a few systems designed to deal with hard water and prevent scale buildup in your ice maker; they include:

1. Salt-Based Water Softeners

Salt-based water softeners use salt to limit the concentration of minerals in the water supply. Through a process called ion exchange, the salt swaps calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions.

What results is water that’s low in magnesium and calcium, but higher in sodium. Some people who want to watch their sodium intake and prefer the benefits of magnesium and calcium may want to choose a different system.

2. Salt-Free Water Softeners

Salt-free “water softeners” is actually a misnomer. These systems don’t reduce the minerals in the water, but rather treat them.

These systems crystallize the calcium in the water so that it won’t stick to surfaces. The magnesium and calcium stay in the water, but it won’t form scale.

3. Phosphate Filters

Phosphate filters are common ice machine water filters used in hard water areas. These filters treat hard water in ice makers much like salt-free systems. This is done by satisfying the ionic bonds between magnesium and calcium. When this happens, the minerals never combine to form scale.

Note that phosphate filters don’t work well in hot water conditions. Luckily ice machines use cold water, so phosphate filters work just fine for most commercial cuber ice machines.

Keep in mind, filters will not clean scale that is already in your ice maker. If you have scale, you should call a professional ice machine technician to clean it out of your ice machine. A professional ice machine cleaning uses harsh acidic cleaners that can cause skin and eye irritation.

Dealing with Hard Water in Your Ice Machine?

If you have an ice machine in your Kansas-based business, there are a few options that will keep it running efficiently. We make sure all the ice machines we service have the proper filtration to keep them running. We’ve been servicing ice machines in the Kansas and Missouri area for decades, so we know exactly how to keep them running in hard water conditions. Contact us today for a quote!

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