Avoid Dangerous Microclimates with Proper Ice Maker Installation

Reading Time: 4 minutes Ice Machine Care

Proper ice maker installation is vital to make sure your ice machine’s ice production rate doesn’t lower or cause problems that require costly repairs.  

A microclimate is one major problem that comes from installing your ice machine in a less than optimal area. Microclimates occur when a small space traps hot air, causing it to hover around your ice maker rather than dispersing into the environment. Trapped air has the same effect on your ice maker as installing the unit in a hot environment – less ice and potential shutdowns.  

Here, we’ll discuss how to prevent microclimates with proper ice maker installation for air-cooled units.

How Heat Affects Your Ice Maker 

Let’s explain the effect high-heat can have on your ice maker before we get into microclimates.  

Your ice maker works best when installed in an area with 70-degree air and 50-degree water. If either your air or water temperatures rise, you’ll find that your ice production rate will begin to fall. The higher the temperature, the harder your ice maker must work to freeze water into ice.  

High temperatures can also do damage to your ice maker if it’s left in a hot room for too long. Temperatures over 95 degrees are particularly dangerous. As your ice maker works harder to make ice, all that extra work begins to take its toll and components will break down, requiring expensive repairs.  

The Dangers of Microclimates 

Microclimates are a result of improper ice maker installation forcing air to linger around your unit.  

An ice machine’s refrigeration system may be able to freeze water into ice, but that process creates a lot of heat.  

Air-cooled systems use a fan to pull ambient air from the environment and use it to cool the inside of the machine. Normally, your ice maker emits the resulting hot air outside of the unit through vents, but if you block those vents, the air has nowhere to go. The air stays near the machine where it’s pulled back in by your unit’s fan and recirculated.  

Microclimates can be hard to distinguish because the heat is extremely close to the unit. Your thermostat could be reading 70 degrees, but the air near your ice machine can be as high as 95 degrees. It’s not uncommon for the air around a poorly installed unit to be nearly 25 degrees hotter than the ambient room temperature when measured at a point less than 5 feet away!  

To avoid microclimates from forming, ice makers need plenty of room. By making sure your machine has space, it will give hot air enough room to disperse safely into the environment.  

How to Find the Best Spot for Your Ice Maker 

There are some hard numbers you should follow when determining the best spot to install your ice maker.  

First, locate where your ice machine’s venting is on the unit. The location of the vent will differ based on which brand ice maker you own. If you have a Manitowoc ice machine, the vents will likely be on the side of the unit. Hoshizaki ice makers often have front-to-back ventilation, with vents located on the back of the unit.  

When you install an ice machine, it’s imperative you provide plenty of space for air to escape. We suggest you clear at least a foot and a half of space on all sides of the ice machine (that includes the ceiling). If you’re working with little space, at the very least, make sure you give your unit’s vents a foot and a half of room.  

Don’t Stack Things on Your Ice Maker 

Clutter around an ice maker is one problem we witness too often. Employees don’t have room to store boxes or other objects, so they use the ice machine as an additional shelf. As sturdy as ice makers are, avoid doing this at all costs.  

When people stack boxes and other objects on an ice machine, they can block airflow like a wall or ceiling, creating a microclimate. Leave the clutter in your closet, not your ice machine!  

Ice makers can provide you with plenty of ice for years to come – but you have to take care of them. Make sure your unit has plenty of room to operate and you install it in a room with 70-degree air temperature. Following these guidelines will ensure your ice machine will continue to provide you with maximum ice production and minimal problems.  

Ice-Masters has years of experience installing and maintaining ice machines. When you lease an ice machine from us, not only can you be sure you get a proper ice maker installation, but we’ll also provide biannual preventive maintenance to keep it in top shape! Give us a call at (773) 975-2005 to get in contact with our sales team.  

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