Pleazer Appliance Repair, LLC
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Under Counter Ice Machines

Introduction:

Ice machines are our most loved appliances to service, and care for. There is an ever growing need for adequate customer education surrounding the investment of $1,100.00 – $4,000.00. This page, moderately explaining the attributes and needs of under counter ice machines, is intended to assist our customers’, any customer, in general overall knowledge of their ice machine. 

Under-counter Ice machines, (not to be confused with ice makers, usually found within a freezer), are an ever growing luxury staple in today's’ homes.

Residential Ice Machines are typically avail in either 15", or 18" widths, are installed under the countertop or stand alone in every setting from Kitchens to outdoor spaces. They offer several exterior finish options such as white, black, or stainless door fronts. Integrated fronts are an option as well, allowing the end user to add a matching cabinet door front to the unit.

Ice Machines are typically rated for, but not limited to outdoor or indoor suitable. If specifically rated for outdoor use, the manufacture has incorporated additional safeguards to protect the appliance against the outdoor elements. It’s best to check with the retailer, or manufacture for detailed information. Ice Machines require a water supply, an electric outlet, and drain for the waste, and melted water to exit the unit. The appliance is equipped with either a gravity drain, or a pump. The gravity drain allows for the waste, and melted water to “gravity” drain from the unit. A gravity drain must be lower than the bottom of the ice storage bin, while the drain pump will send the waste and melted water away to a drain location within the specs of the pumps’ requirements.

 

Ice Types:

There are several ice types available from residential to commercial made by various manufactures. The most common ice types used in residential settings would be the chewable “nugget”, crescent cube, top hat solid cube, ¾” x ½” cube, trapezoid cube. Excluding the crescent, and nugget ice, the remaining are considered gourmet ice due to their tasteless, odorless, and clear appearance. Other ice types mainly found in the commercial sector include flake ice, half ice, and full cube ice.  Each form of ice serves a purpose based on its design.

 

Ice Production:

All gourmet machines produce clear ice with a freezing process that naturally separates the minerals from the water, giving clear, tasteless, and odorless ice. A gourmet “clear” ice machine will typically produce ice, and store it in the incorporated ice bin. This is nothing more than a cooler like you would bring to the beach. It’s a largely misunderstood fact that clear ice machines will make the ice, store it in the bin until enough is used that the machine will resume.  All ice machines except the ones with the ability to freeze are designed to make the ice, store it, and allow it to melt so there is always a fresh supply of ice waiting to be used. This characteristic often suggests to the customer that there is an issue with the ice machine, as they see wet, or dull looking ice. This is perfectly normal. Ice machines with the ability to freeze, like the crescent cube machines, will make the ice, store it, and keep it frozen till enough has been used, thus requiring the unit to resume.  In the case of the nugget machines, their ice production is a little different from the previously mentioned. In a very ingenious way the nugget machine freezes water in a cylindrical evaporator containing a sharp corkscrew auger, just like a meat grinder. As the water freezes, it’s continually shaved from the inside of the cylinder by the slow moving auger, and brought to the top where it is forced through a set of small round holes. This is the process where the shaved ice becomes slightly compacted prior to being trimmed off by a breaker.  Due to this process all the minerals contained within the supply water will freeze with the ice. Traditionally nugget machines allow for the stored ice to slowly melt as well so new ice production can take its place.



Care and Maintenance:

This is the most important section. An ice machine absolutely requires maintenance to properly operate within the designed lifespan. With the exception of the crescent cube machines that keep the ice frozen prior to use, nearly all other machines will leave behind minerals and scale from the water source, including the nugget machines.  When minerals and scale are allowed to build up over time, this will result in poor ice machine performance, taste or odor issues, and often failure of the appliance. The first thing we always advise our customers is to read the owner’s manual, namely the cleaning or maintenance section. The majority of newer ice machines today are equipped with some sort of “time to clean” indicator. Still some new and many older machines do not have the ability to tell you when it’s time to clean them. For the machines that do not it’s typically recommended to perform a clean every 6 months to possibly a year depending on usage. Ice machines that do offer a visual clean indicator should not be ignored, as they are programmed to watch your ice usage, time since last clean, how long it takes to make a batch of ice, Etc.

An actual clean is a 2 part process. A descaling solution will be used for the water carrying parts of the machine which you don’t see. This is designed to remove scale and mineral deposits from all water pathways. Most residential machines use stainless ice making components, but there are many that use nickel plated parts, including commercial. Unless your Use & Care guide states otherwise, It’s always best to use a “Nickel Safe” cleaner so you don’t have to worry about what your machine is made of. Based on the solution cleaning instructions given by the manufacture this will tackle part 1 of the cleaning.

Part 2 of the cleaning process is where a manual “by hand” cleaning of the ice bin, all accessible interior components and condenser coil  should be done.  Ice machines that allow the ice to slowly melt allowing for fresh ice to me made in its place can promote unsanitary conditions If not properly kept cleaned. The higher interior parts of the bin above the ice storage line will not be as cold, and with the constant wet environment can develop mold growth.  Many of these tight spaces are not easily accessible to the customer without taking parts of the machine apart. When paying for a cleaning by a qualified service company, you may see parts of your machine taken apart that you didn’t know about for the purpose of proper cleaning.
We do, of course offer full cleanings on all domestic, and some foreign made ice machines, call us today and to learn more.