The Many Types of Ice Machine Drain Setups

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Ice Machine Drain

Kansas and Missouri-based businesses need to provide an adequate drainage system for commercial ice equipment or it will be impossible to maintain its performance. As your ice machine produces ice, it releases leftover water. You need a drainage system that can handle the maximum amount of water your ice machine releases. All units will have an ice machine drain, but there are also ice bin drains, condensate drains, drip trays, and more.

At Ice-Masters, we’ve been installing and servicing the top commercial ice machine brands for Kansas and Missouri businesses since 1950. We’ve seen all types of drainage setups and would like to share some of our knowledge with you.

Let’s look at some of the different types of drainage setups you can find in most Kansas or Missouri businesses – and how they can benefit your commercial ice maker.

Ice Machine Floor Drains

Floor drains are often the best types of drains for ice machines. Floor drains are great because they can handle the high volume of water commercial ice machines can produce.

Floor drains consist of an opening (called an access point) built directly into the floor. Water that enters a floor drain continues down into the business’s sewer line or other area, like outside the business. Floor drains can be round, square, sunken (like a Floor Sink), or elevated (like a Mop Sink).

When providing drainage to an ice machine (or other appliance, for that matter) you’ll need to provide a few inches of space (called an air gap) between the ice machine drain and the business’s drain access point. An air gap prevents water from the sewage line from backing up into your ice maker or bin if the floor drain clogs.

Most cities require a 2” air gap, but make sur to check your city’s plumbing code.

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Standpipe Drain

A standpipe drain is a pipe that extends out of a wall or floor. Standpipes come in many lengths, from 4 inches high or longer. Ice machines release water into the access point of the standpipe, which deposits into your business’s drainage system.

If your Kansas or Missouri business has a standpipe, the pipe must be large enough to handle the amount of water your ice machine drain produces.

If the standpipe is too small or too short, water can overflow the standpipe and cause flooring damage.

Keep in mind, most ice bin drains measure 5-6 inches off the ground. If you have a standpipe that is too tall, you might need to raise the unit or add a drain pump (more on that later). Another option is to shorten the standpipe, effectively making it a floor drain.

Any alterations to your standpipe drain should be performed by a qualified plumber.

If your business’s standpipe extends from your sewage line, you’ll need to fit it with a P-trap. These curved pipes prevent gas from the sewage system from exiting the drain access point.

Like a floor drain, standpipes require an air gap to meet your city’s health code.

Wall Drains

Wall drains are vertical pipes that run through your business’s wall and curve up to accept water from an appliance.

These are popular drainage setups for commercial ice and water dispensers. With these units, the ice machine’s drain runs through the countertop and directly into the wall drain. Water is then deposited either outside or to your business’s drainage system. Just like standpipes, wall drains connected to a sewage line will need a P-trap. An air gap between the ice machine’s drain and the wall drain’s access point is also required.

These drains can be created from an existing sink drain in most locations.

Transfer Drains

Typical ice machine drains are “gravity-fed”, which uses gravity to move water. To do this, an ice machine drain or bin drain has a 1/4″ of drop for every 1 foot of drain line.

Transfer drains are used in ice machines that are installed a few feet away from an access point. Transfer drains can be used with floor drains, standpipes, or wall drains.

Transfer drains use gravity as well. They need to downward slope that moves water towards the access point. These drainage setups require at least a 1/8 inch drop per foot of piping. The steeper the slope the faster water can move through the piping.

Using a Drain Pump with Your Ice Machine Drain

If your business’s drainage access point is too high above your ice machines, a drain pump can be a solution. There are two types of drain pumps common in Kansas or Missouri businesses:

Commercial Drain Pumps

A commercial drain pump forces leftover water from your ice machine up to an available access point. These systems can be a good option if elevating your ice machine a few feet up is not an option.

Commercial drain pumps come with large reservoirs that hold the leftover the water from your ice machine until the pump activates. If you plan on using a commercial drain pump, make sure it has a large enough reservoir to accommodate your ice machine.

Most of these pumps measure about 10-14 inches off the ground, which won’t fit below a standard, 6” ice machine drain. If you plan on using a commercial drain pump, you will still need to raise the ice machine a few inches higher.

When choosing a commercial drain pump, there are three things you need to look for:

  • The pumping capacity in gallons per minute
  • The size of the pump’s reservoir (can it hold the amount of water your ice machine expels?)
  • The strength of the pump (how much water can the pump move upslope?)

Condensate Pumps

Condensate pumps were designed for air conditioning units. These pumps help remove condensation that drips off the AC unit.

Many creative Kansas or Missouri businesses use these pumps on ice bin drains because the ice’s melting rate is similar to air conditioning condensation.

However, condensate pumps cannot handle large volumes of water from other areas of the ice machine. Using a condensate pump on your ice machine’s drain will cause the pump to overflow and damage to the floor of your business.

Condensate pumps also typically fail over time, so you should replace the pump every year.

Overall, drain pumps should only be used as a last resort.

Choose the Right Ice Machine Drain Type for Your Needs

There are many different drainage setups used in Kansas and Missouri businesses. Whichever drainage system you choose, make sure the machine is installed correctly. Commercial ice machines should include air gaps and any other state requirements.

At Ice-Masters, we specialize in installing the best commercial ice machine brands under optimal conditions that increase energy-efficiency and keep the machine in peak performance. We also provide ice machine service to keep your machine running like new.

Want more information on ice machine installation? See our Pre-Installation Checklist.

Our team is available to help you get started today!

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