Cleaning Your Commercial Ice Machine
Many of our customers don’t fully comprehend how important it is to keep their commercial ice machine and related equipment sanitized. Sometimes ice isn’t even perceived as a food. However, most of the quality of each drink that is served, the machine’s power consumption, and its reliability is dependent upon proper cleaning and maintenance.
To make this problem worse, sometimes service personnel, other than our own, don’t comprehend how important it is to properly sanitize these machines. Sometimes they hurry through the sanitizing and cleaning process and are not well versed in proper ice machine sanitation, thereby compromising the quality of the ice that is produced.
We have listed some steps you can take to ensure your commercial ice machine is well sanitized in order to ensure the quality and safety of its ice and the longevity of your machine.
The water used in your machine is the most important factor in manufacturing high quality and healthy ice. Consequently, you should perform an analysis of your local water supply to determine if water filtration is necessary. Cryptosporidiosis, giardiasis, and Legionnaire’s disease cases have been tied to poorly maintained ice machines. Use of carbon filters by themselves is not an adequate solution to prohibit these illnesses. Carbon filters will remove any disinfectant present in the water, such as chlorine, which can increase the risk of these water borne diseases. You can find water filters that will remove parasitic cysts, and scale.
Thoroughly Clean Your Machine
When you are cleaning your machine, you should take apart, hand clean, and soak as many parts of the machine as you can. Take all of the ice out of the storage bin and sanitize it as well. Make sure all drain lines and even the exterior of the storage bin are cleaned. You should use quaternary ammonia in the cleaning process. Mix some ammonia with water in a spray bottle and completely spray all surfaces after the machine has been serviced. Permit the ammonia solution to dry on its own, you shouldn’t rinse it off. This helps inhibit bacterial growth.
Use Only Holiday Ice Approved Chemicals
Use our approved scale removal chemicals. There are some parts of the machine that may be damaged by improper chemical use. Hoses and plastic parts may be removed and cleanses with chemicals that are stronger in needed. Host water should be used when chemicals are mixed. You should also ensure that right mixing ratios are used. Using a stronger chemical mix or cleaning for more than 30 minutes won’t help since the pH of the cleaner will return to 7, which is neutral after this length of time.
If you need to clean for longer than 30 minutes, mix up so new cleaner. Follow the guidelines in the MSDS for use of protective equipment and make sure you know how to treat your skin if its exposed to the chemicals. Normally safety glasses and chemical gloves that extend to the elbow are sufficient.
Tools For Cleaning
Pads that are mildly abrasive and nylon brushes may be used. For smaller nooks and crannies a brush the size of a tooth brush may be needed. Avoid scratching any surfaces since a surfaced with scratches in it are more likely to harbor bacteria.
To remove debris from drain lines it is sometimes useful to attach a fitting to a 0.25 inch hose that is two meters long and put it in the drain line to flush it. Be aware that in addition to ensuring that the lines drain, you are making sure that they are completely flushed so that bacterial regrowth is prevented.
Additional technologies such as ozone water, chlorine sachets, and ultraviolet lights are made by various manufacturers. Their purpose is to stop bacterial and other types of biological film from growing, however, they are not helpful for stopping the buildup of scale. There are some manufactured plastics that are designed to impeded the growth of microbes and some of these technologies may not be compatible with these special plastics. Most often, normal maintenance is adequate, however, when airborne yeast is prevalent in places such as pizzerias and bakeries, extra care should be taken. You should also be cognizant that beer exposure, that often can occur in bars and restaurants, can promote bacterial growth and contamination.
Nugget and Flake Ice Machines
Nugget and flake ice machines need some extra care. They tend to retain additional mineral deposits When cleaning these machines ensure that the auger is checked, the extrusion head is pulled and the evaporator surface is checked. Make sure bearing tolerances are checked and the amperage of the drive motor is right, subsequent to cleaning.
Perform A Production Test
Keep in mind that the goal is to produce quality ice that has no contaminants or imperfections. Subsequent to cleaning, it is helpful to execute a production test to make sure the ice machine is functioning correctly.
To execute an ice cuber production test, record the water temperature, the temperature of air entering the condenser, and catch and weigh an ice batch over a period of time. Compare the machine’s output to the production amount published by the manufacturer for the water and ambient temperatures recorded earlier.
After making sure the ice machine is operating correctly it may be helpful to provide some instruction to the end user. The iced should not be wasted. Explain that all bar boxes and drink stations should be filled at the end of each night and when staff comes in the next day. The ice should be raked down to be sure the machine is operating for the entire 24-hour day. This will guarantee that maximum production is achieved, which may be important during times of high demand.
By ensuring that water is properly filtered, the machine is properly cleaned, and that it is cleaned on a regular basis (every 6 months) and instructing customers on ways to get the greatest output from their machine, stellar service can be provided. Additionally, you may be able to reduce the most frequent complaint, not having enough ice when it is needed most.
Ensure Ambient Air Gets To The Condenser
Be aware that ice machines that are self-contained are sometimes installed with inadequate clearance to permit ambient air to get to the condenser. This can result in an ambient temperature increase that will reduce production. A 10 degree F increase in ambient temperature can result in a corresponding 10% loss in ice production.