Why Ice Maker Freeze Ups Happen

Reading Time: 5 minutes Ice Machines 101

Ice maker freezing up

Business owners in Kansas and Missouri can clearly benefit from an ice machine that consistently works year-round, but sometimes the ice itself can lead to an ice maker freeze up. If you have an ice maker not working due to a freeze up, it can be very expensive to fix if it causes damages. If the ice buildup grows large enough, it can start to break internal components. Being able to identify ice machine freeze ups early can save the ice machine from costly damage.

What Causes an Ice Maker Freeze Up

Industrial ice makers freeze up when ice is unable to release from the evaporator plate. When water flows over stuck-on ice, it begins to grow until it becomes a huge ice block. An ice maker freeze up may prevent the ice machine from producing ice cubes. It can also grow large enough to damage the evaporator plate which requires an expensive repair.

There are a couple of reasons why an ice maker can freeze up. For the ice machine to run properly again, the underlying problem needs to be fixed to avoid future freeze ups.

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The Causes of Ice Maker Freeze Ups

Here are a couple of common problems to look at first to help identify the cause of your ice maker freezing up.


If you see build up in your ice maker, it may be scale (caused by hard water which is common in many Kansas and Missouri areas). Calcium and magnesium bind together and stick to surfaces where water flows continuously. If you’ve ever lived in an area with hard water, you may have seen scale forming around your faucet or on the tiles of your shower.

Ice makers push water over a freezing evaporator plate to form ice. As the water flows it begins freezing little by little to the evaporator plate until it forms a cube. Once the ice grows big enough, the ice is harvested by flowing warmer water over the evaporator plate. Hot gas from the ice-making process is also used to help the ice release and drop into the ice bin below.

When the evaporator plate is covered in scale, ice has a really hard time releasing off the plate.  If the ice cube is stuck on the evaporator plate throughout multiple freeze cycles, that one cube will grow into a big piece of ice that can damage the machine. An ice maker freezing up and scale may not seem connected, but if the machine is not kept clean, it can cause issues.

The best way to prevent scale build-up is to get professional routine cleanings. A water softener or phosphate filter can help reduce the amount of scale in your machine if you live in an area with hard water, like Topeka or Kansas City.

Bin Control Malfunctions

Bin controls regulate the amount of ice that gets released into the bin to prevent overflow. When it reaches maximum capacity, it shuts down the ice machine. If you have a bin control malfunction, the ice machine might continue to make ice even if the bin is full.

If the ice machine is unable to shut down, it will produce ice until it eventually builds up into the ice machine through the drop zone.  Once the drop zone is blocked with ice, it reaches up into the evaporator and causes an ice maker freeze up.

The best way to prevent this is to ensure that a professional ice machine technician maintains the unit at least twice each year. If you notice that your ice machine doesn’t shut down once the bin is full, turn off the machine manually and call an ice machine technician as soon as possible.

Float Switch Issues Can Also Cause Ice Machine Freeze Ups

The float switch helps to regulate the amount of water used during a freeze cycle in Hoshizaki ice machines.

In these types of ice machines, float switch malfunctions can cause the ice machine to produce larger ice cubes than normal, making it more difficult for them to release from the evaporator plate during the harvest cycle.

This issue can also lead to an ice maker freezing up. If you find larger ice in the ice bin or commercial ice dispenser, call a trained technician to inspect the performance of the unit.

Clogged Water Lines Could Be Another Issue

Your water line is essential in supplying the ice equipment with enough water.  If the line is filled with mineral content or too small, the water lines will not be able to provide proper water flow to the ice machine. In the winter months, water lines can freeze, making it difficult to keep conditions ideal. A decreased water flow means the machine can’t release ice from the evaporator plate. This results in deformed ice cubes that ultimately lead to your ice maker freezing up.

You’ll need a plumber to repair this problem in those instances. If you have frozen water pipes, they’ll probably need to be better insulated so that the issue doesn’t continue.

During your ice maker installation, one of our ice machine technicians in Kansas or Missouri will make sure your water supply accommodates the needs of the ice machine.

Preventative Maintenance Helps You Avoid Costly Ice Maker Freeze Ups

If you want to avoid expensive repairs resulting from ice maker freeze ups, preventive commercial ice maker maintenance and cleaning are important. An ice maker freezing up can result in damaged evaporator plates that are costly to fix. A professional technician will also be able to identify minor issues that could lead to freeze ups, saving you from bigger problems down the road.  That is why we work to ensure that all our machines receive biannual maintenance and cleaning to keep them running properly. Kansas and Missouri companies trust Ice-Masters to provide quality service and ice machines at an affordable cost. If a commercial ice machine rental sounds right for your business, contact us today!

Our team is available to help you get started today!

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