Tri-Point Refrigeration Blog | 4 Most Common Reasons Commercial Ice Makers Break

4 Most Common Reasons Commercial Ice Makers Break

Nov 28, 2023 | Ice Machines, Organization | 0 comments

#1 Lack of quality water filtration for your ice machine

Commercial ice machine repair can seem daunting; when you partner with the right commercial ice machine company, they can be repaired. The most common problems with commercial ice machines typically stem from hard water problems and the lack of a quality ice machine water filter. Hard water entering ice machines can cause many issues for an ice maker. Hard water will cause scale to build up inside an ice machine. Scale can cause parts like water inlet and dump valves to stick open or close. This can lead to ice machines overflowing with water if the inlet valve fails open or cause all your water to be pumped down the drain if the dump valve fails open. If your water inlet valve seizes closed due to scale build-up, your ice machine will trip off on an error due to low water. Ice machine dump valves that fail closed will not cause an ice machine to stop because of a mistake, but the ice machine will become extremely dirty very quickly because it can’t get rid of contaminated water. Calcium and magnesium, the minerals that make up hard water, also known as scale, can cause more problems than inlet and dump valves. Scale can cause pumps to seize up and the plastic inside the ice machine to become coated with a thin layer of scale build-up. Manitowoc and Scotsman ice machines use an ice thickness probe to tell the ice machine when there is ice ready to be dropped off the ice-making grid, or evaporator, into the ice bin. When these thickness probes get covered in scale, it causes them to be less sensitive to ice production and causes the commercial ice machine to make very thick ice. A good ice machine water filter can help keep scale from causing your ice machine to break.

#2 Lack of basic commercial ice machine maintenance

Another thing that can cause a commercial ice machine to stop making ice is the condenser. The condenser is designed to move ambient air over a thin aluminum coil to move the heat from the ice machine. This is what helps get the ice maker’s evaporator below freezing so that it can make ice. When the fan motor goes out or the condenser gets dirty, it can cause the ice machine to shut down because of high pressure. Just like the radiator on a car, the ice machine will get too hot and shut down on a safety error. Condensers can be located inside an ice machine or remotely. Remote ice machine condensers are typically outside on a roof. The condensers on the roof tend to get stopped up with dirt faster due to being outside and may need to be washed out with a water hose more often, depending on your location. In West Texas, where the dirt blows a lot, condensers must be cleaned much more often.

#3 Refrigeration issues causing your ice machine to shutdown

Another reason ice machines can fail is due to refrigeration issues. Refrigeration issues can be caused by the failure of a mechanical switch like a fan cycle control that keeps the condenser fan motor running or a compressor going out. Hot gas valves can get stuck and keep the ice maker from harvesting ice off the evaporator, or the thermostatic expansion valve, or TXV, can fail and keep the commercial ice machine from making ice. Ice machines also have high-pressure controls that can cause the ice machine to shut down to prevent damaging the compressor if the condenser fan motor fails. The failure of the fan cycle switch can also cause the high-pressure control to trip. Ice machine failures can be exacerbated when ice machines are not correctly installed.

#4 Improper commercial ice maker installation

Improperly installed ice machines can cause a variety of problems, from minor nuisances to significant failures. Proper airflow around an ice machine can cause the ice machine to starve of fresh air and run hotter than usual. This can cause the ice machine to take longer to make ice and eventually develop a refrigeration issue due to consistently running hotter than designed. When the ice machine drain lines are installed incorrectly, it can cause the ice maker to keep from draining properly and the machine will become dirty prematurely. If an ice machine doesn’t have proper ground, it can cause the control board to incorrectly interpret sensors and probes and cause the machine to shut down on various safety errors. Properly installed electrical grounding on an ice machine can solve a myriad of issues. When ice machines are properly maintained and repaired, our customers in Lubbock, Texas, and Austin, Texas, see a tremendous reduction in ice machine failures. Tri-Point Refrigeration customers who follow through with consistent ice maker maintenance and have the proper ice machine filters installed see the lifespan of their ice machines last double the typical life span. Our team has seen properly maintained ice machines for over 15 years. Call Tri-Point Refrigeration today if you would like to have your ice machine serviced or set up a maintenance plan for your ice machine. Our offices located in Lubbock, Texas, and Austin, Texas, service a 120-mile radius around each city. Our Lubbock office phone number is (806) 686-0050. Our Austin office phone number is (512) 651-4565. Visit our website at