Ice-O-Matic Care and Troubleshooting Guide

Ice-O-Matic Cleaning and Maintenance Guide

The folks at Ice-O-Matic pride themselves in doing one thing and doing it well: building simple, reliable ice machines. One of the commercial ice makers they produce will likely serve your establishment for years if you maintain it properly. To get the most from your machine, it's essential that you routinely perform a few basic tasks.

The easiest maintenance to perform on your machine is the preventive kind, which should begin the moment the machine arrives at your facility. Your equipment should be installed by a factory-certified service professional. The technician will install your equipment according to Ice-O-Matic best practices and verify that the following conditions are met so that your machine will operate at its highest capacity:

  • The bin and machine are installed level so that water flows properly through the system and out the bin's drain.
  • The machine is connected to an appropriate power supply so that it has the electricity it needs to perform to factory specifications and runs no risk of causing or sustaining damage from a mismatched circuit.
  • The water coming into the machine is within the appropriate temperature and pressure ranges so the machine can produce ice in the volume it's designed to.
  • The air temperature in the room in which the ice maker is installed is within the machine's operating temperature range.
  • The machine is connected to the appropriate floor or wall drain according to all applicable building codes.
  • The unit is installed with the required clearance from nearby walls and equipment so the refrigeration system can receive the airflow it needs to run efficiently.
  • The incoming water is filtered with a compatible water filter.

The last point in that list is especially important if hard water is an issue in your area. The dissolved minerals in hard water can wreak havoc on an ice machine's internal components, slowing ice production and potentially shortening the equipment's life. A simple way to mitigate the effects of hard water is by installing a water filter on the incoming water line and keeping the cartridge changed according to the operator's manual.

Water free of minerals also freezes more quickly and produces a clearer cube. Purified water generally produces better-tasting ice as well, because most ice machine filters are designed to remove the taste and odor of the chlorine most municipal treatment facilities add to keep harmful bacteria at bay.

Cleaning and Sanitizing an Ice-O-Matic Ice Machine

The most important step in keeping your ice machine running up to spec is sticking to IOM's recommended schedule for cleaning and sanitizing the machine. Note that the processes of cleaning and sanitizing are not the same. Cleaning is the process of removing the limescale and other mineral deposits that build up inside the machine over time. The sanitizing step is intended to destroy any harmful microorganisms that may be present in the machine: bacteria, mold, yeast, and fungus to name a few. You should sanitize the machine only after it's been cleaned.

It is important to clean and sanitize your Ice-O-Matic ice machine at least once every six months. You may find that your machine needs to be cleaned more often, especially in areas with particularly hard water or if your facility bakes fresh bread, as airborne yeast can get into your ice machine and promote growth of bacterial colonies in the dark, damp conditions there.

It is essential that you only use cleaning and sanitizing chemicals that have been approved by Ice-O-Matic to maintain your ice machine. Chemicals that contain chlorine or a strong acid can accelerate the wear on your machine's components. Check with an Ice-O-Matic representative or a service technician before using any chemicals from a third party and closely follow the directions for that substance.

Use this Ice-O-Matic cleaning video as a complement to the following cleaning directions. Always consult the owner's manual to find the most accurate and up-to-date cleaning and maintenance procedures.

Always remove and discard the first two batches of ice produced following the cleaning and sanitizing procedures. That ice may contain traces of chemicals and is not safe to use.

Prior to cleaning or sanitizing your IOM ice maker or its bin, perform the following steps:

  1. Put on your gloves and protective eyewear.
  2. Remove the ice machine's front panel by removing the two Philips-head screws that hold it in place.
  3. Verify that the evaporator is free of any ice. If the machine is the in the process of producing a batch, wait for it to harvest and then turn the machine's mode selector switch to "Off."
  4. Empty the machine's ice bin. Store the ice in a food-safe container if you intend to use it.

How to Clean Your Ice-O-Matic Ice Machine:

  1. Turn the ice mode switch to the "Wash" position. Press the "Purge" switch until no water remains in the water trough.
  2. Turn the mode switch to the "Off" position.
  3. Following the chemical manufacturer's instructions, add the recommended amount of nickel-safe cleaner in the correct concentration to the water trough.
  4. Turn the mode switch to the "Wash" position.
  5. Allow the cleaning solution to circulate through the machine for 15 minutes. This process will dissolve mineral deposits on the interior components.
  6. Press and hold the "Purge" switch until all water is emptied from the machine.
  7. End the wash cycle by moving the mode switch to the "Off" position.
  8. Remove the splash screen and verify that the wash cycle removed all mineral buildup.
  9. Wipe the evaporator and other water-contact surfaces with a soft cloth to remove any remaining residue.
  10. To remove stubborn buildup on the food-zone components, remove the water trough and water distribution tube and clean those components with a bottle brush.
  11. You may repeat steps 2 through 5 as many times as necessary to remove all mineral buildup.
  12. Follow the directions in the next three sections to sanitize the machine and to clean and sanitize the ice bin.

How to Clean Your Ice-O-Matic Ice Machine Bin

  1. Turn the mode switch to the "Wash" position. Press the "Purge" switch until no water remains in the water trough.
  2. Turn the mode switch to the "Off" position.
  3. Prepare a solution of ice machine cleaner according to the chemical manufacturer's instructions.
  4. Using a soft cloth or soft-bristled brush, wash all interior ice bin surfaces including the door, interior walls, door track, and drain.
  5. Allow the bin to soak for 15 minutes to allow the solution to loosen any mineral deposits within the bin.
  6. Wash the interior surfaces again to remove stubborn deposits.
  7. Rinse the bin's interior with clean water to remove all cleaning solution.

How to Sanitize Your IOM Ice Machine

  1. Choose an EPA-approved sanitizer and use it according to the chemical manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Completely fill the water trough with the sanitizer solution in the correct dilution.
  3. Turn the mode switch to the "Wash" position and allow the chemical to circulate for 10 minutes.
  4. While the sanitizing solution is circulating through the machine, inspect the internal components for any water leaks. Wipe down the rest of the food-zone components and ensure that all components are installed correctly and free of any malfunctions.
  5. After 10 minutes, press and hold the "Purge" switch until all water is emptied from the machine.
  6. Switch the machine back to the "Ice" mode and allow it to resume producing ice

How to Sanitize Your Ice-O-Matic Ice Storage Bin

  1. Prepare a solution of sanitizer and water according to the chemical manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Using a soft cloth, sanitize all internal ice machine components including the door, walls, door and window tracks, and bin drain. You may need to use a long-handled, soft-bristled brush to sanitize hard-to-reach areas of the ice bin.
  3. Rinse the bin with clean water and a clean cloth, removing all sanitizer reside from the bin.

Chemicals from different manufacturers must be diluted to different levels in order for them to be effective. Always follow the instructions on the chemical's package and on its material safety data sheet. It's best to prepare your solution in a separate container before pouring it into your ice machine in order to ensure you achieve the proper dilution. Never combine different chemicals into the same solution.

Signs of Ice Machine Trouble

Your Ice-O-Matic cuber's evaporator plate is coated with a layer of nickel that protects the steel and copper underneath from corrosion and the general wear and tear that running water can inflict. That plating can become worn down over time, exposing the steel and copper underneath. Not only does this wear and tear open the door to corrosion, but a worn evaporator can also fail to release ice readily, slowing down the machine's ice production. If you notice that your machine's evaporator has become severely discolored or rusted, it may be time to have the component replaced.

Nugget and flake ice machines have unique evaporators that use augers. This spinning, corkscrew-shaped mechanism moves water through the cylindrical evaporator, freezing it and shaping it into its final form. If your nugget or flake ice machine begins to generate excessive noise as it produces ice, there may be an issue with the auger. A simple cleaning will often get the machine running smoothly again, but if it doesn't, it may be time to contact an Ice-O-Matic repair professional to check for a problem before you find your ice machine out of service.

The individual cubes of ice that come out of cube ice machines are held together by a layer of ice called a bridge, which allows the ice to be harvested in one sheet. If the bridge is too thin, partial sections of the ice may break free during the harvest cycle, leaving unharvested ice on the evaporator and thus reducing the machine's production capacity. If the bridge is too thick, the ice may be very difficult to break apart once it hits the bin. If your machine is experiencing any of those symptoms, they may be a sign the bridge thickness control needs to be adjusted or that the system has failed, but other factors might be to blame.

Another sign that your ice machine may be experiencing trouble is that it begins to take longer to produce ice than it has in the past. This can be caused by fluctuations in the temperature of the ambient air around the machine or changes in the temperature of the machine's incoming water. Failing components within the ice machine may also be to blame. Consult a technician if you notice a drop in your ice machine's production capacity.

Ice-O-Matic Parts and Accessories

If you opt to purchase an ice machine and bin combo set, you'll receive all the components necessary to interface the two main pieces of equipment. If you elect to buy the components separately, or if you're replacing part of your existing combo, you may also need to order an ice bin adapter to ensure that your ice machine head unit and storage bin or dispenser will fit together properly.

Each of IOM's popular ICEU series of undercounter ice machines is equipped with 6-inch legs that bring the overall height of the machine to 39 inches. If you'll need the machine to comply with ADA-mandated equipment heights, you can install your machine with an ADA-compliant floor-mounting kit that does away with the legs and mounts the equipment to the floor securely and in a way that doesn't allow dirt and debris to collect underneath.

You can choose to purchase your chemicals from the vendor of your choice, but it's always a wise decision to opt for the company's own Ice-O-Matic cleaning solution, sold in 16-ounce squeeze bottles. You can be sure this cleaner won’t harm the nickel plating on the evaporator.

Gear assembly kits are essential parts of certain Ice-O-Matic ice machines. Certain conditions may cause those components to fail, so the company offers replacement kits to get your machine back in service.

Water filter cartridges must be replaced periodically to ensure your machine continues to provide clear and fresh-tasting ice with each batch. The filter assemblies mount to the wall and offer quick-connect fittings for easy replacement. Ice-O-Matic may extend your machine's warranty if you stick to the recommended cartridge replacement schedule.

Ice diverter kits are installed in various parts of an ice machine to guide ice into the dispenser or bin so that production flows smoothly. Field-installed diverters are available for a few Ice-O-Matic models if you find that you need one.

One solution that is unique to Ice-O-Matic is the company's O3MATIC aqueous ozone generating device, which ozonates the incoming water to reduce the levels of bacteria, mold, mildew, and viruses that survive inside your ice machine. That can extend the length of time between ice machine cleanings and keeps your guests safer from the microbes that can cause illness.

Schedule a Preventive Checkup

You may prefer to hire a factory-trained technician to clean and sanitize your ice machine as part of your general maintenance routine. Regardless of whether you choose to go that route, you should always schedule a routine visit from an Ice-O-Matic repair technician who will come in and check that your ice machine is running up to spec. The following are a few items that will be on the technician's checklist.

  1. Verify that the machine is producing ice with the correct ice bridge thickness.
  2. Check the water in the water trough for the proper level.
  3. Clean the condenser.
  4. Check for leaks of any kind, including water, oil, and refrigerant.
  5. Check a number of electronic and mechanical components, including switches, valves, and sensors, to verify they're in good working order.