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Just how dirty are your ice machines, Austin, Texas?

Austin area ice machine owners! Do you know how dirty your ice machine is?

The first time I cleaned an ice machine there was a solar eclipse. It was August 21, 2017. While I was exploring the horrible innards of the ice machine and scrubbing away mold and scale that choked the machine, people were outside marveling at the eclipse. I took a break and marveled at it as well and took it as a sign. The universe wanted me to be sure that everyone knew just how dirty ice machines can get. Not everyone is convinced but they will be. You there! In the back. Don't avert your eyes. Witness the horror of the inside of an ice machine.

People often can't believe their ice machine isn’t working because it is dirty. From the outside it doesn’t look dirty and most people don’t venture inside of the ice machine to find out what is happening behind the scenes. I’m going to share with you the most gruesome, awful pictures that are from ice machines that were too dirty to keep going. Machines that gave up on life and chose to no longer function because no one cared enough to clean the scale and mold off of their precious internal organs. Hopefully after seeing this, ice machine owners will have a better understanding of why they need to clean and take care of their machine. These machines get so dirty inside it's hard to imagine eating the ice they make.


Below are some of the best examples of how bad mold can get in an ice machine. If you bake bread, brew beer or even serve beer you are going to have some of what you see below in your ice machine. However if you breath a sigh of relief thinking there is no way your machine can be as bad as the pictures below because you don't bake bread or deal in beer, stop. Most of the pictures are not from places that bake bread or deal in beer. In fact one of the pictures below if from the lunch room in an electronics manufacturer. I can assure you they are not baking bread or brewing beer there.

Dirty and moldy manitowoc distribution tube

This is an example of just how much mold can be produced in a machine and how cleaning makes it function again. This ice machine is kept in a closet like an unwanted stepchild. This machine was also starving for cool air which caused more problems. This machine was found in downtown Austin.

slime from commercial ice maker

The above look like snails but are globs of mold taken from the inside of the ice machine. This location did bake bread and this is the kind of weird mold to expect where bread is baked. The yeast in the air gets into the machine and the moist innards of the ice machine are a perfect breeding ground to grow. Alas, it will not grow bread.

Slim and mold found in ice machine

This slimy glob was sitting in the reservoir of the ice machine.

disgusting slime found in water trough of nugget ice machine

This is the water inlet valve in a reservoir for a nugget ice machine in Hutto, TX. The valve is under all of that mold. Pictures like this are the reason I always look at the glass of water I've been served at random restaurants. I want to make sure the ice that I've been served is mold free.

slime around the ice chute of a nugget ice machine

This location has a bad mold problem. We clean their 30 ice machines four times a year and this is what they look like every three months. If we did not clean these machines as often as we do the machines would more than likely have severe functional issues due to mold. The most common problem for this customer: Mold blocks the drain line and causes water to overflow onto the counter and floor. They don't have that issue anymore because these machines are cleaned so often.

slime in Scotsman ice machine water trough

This is at a bar who is never convinced that they need to clean their ice machine in Cedar Park, Texas. See all that mold in the reservoir? It and all of its little friends inside of the machine stopped the machine from working and they called us for a repair when they really just they needed to clean the ice machine more often.

frozen up manitowoc evaporator

The above is one of the things that can happen when mold has blocked the passage of water in Lubbock, Texas. The silver plate behind the ice is where water is supposed to be frozen. It's called the evaporator. Water normally passes over the plate evenly distributed by the distribution tube at the top of the picture. But do you see what is at the top of the picture? Do you see those pinkish/yellow globs? Yep. You guessed it. Mold! The mold is so think on this ice machine that it is blocking most of the water from passing through the distribution tube evenly and is only letting out a small amount of water from a few places. Mold can coat sensors and plug valves and worst of all end up in the customer's glass.


Scale is a vicious enemy of ice machines. Its presence in the ice machine has a similar effect to mold except it is made of rock that is cemented to the inside of your machine. Remember geology 101 where we learned about the types of rocks? The one I remember as the most interesting is sedimentary rock. This rock is typically deposited by water over a great deal of time. Zion, Arches, and even the Grand Canyon Nation parks are made spectacular by this sedimentary process. This is the process that is going on inside of your ice machine at a much smaller...scale. This rock deposit in your ice machine will clog things just as badly as mold but considering that it is rock it takes a lot more than a sanitizer to remove it from the ice machine. Sometimes scale can get so bad on parts that removing it is not an option and the only way to get the machine going again is to replace the part. Scrubbing scale off typically doesn't work very well so we employ a descaler along with scrubbing to remove scale. Beware: Some descalers will take the coating off of your evaporator so knowing the correct descaler for your machine is important. Without the coating on the evaporator the ice does not melt off correctly and more problems will arise.

scale build up on ice distribution tube

To be honest I do not know what causes this type of scale. I suspect it has something to do with copper due to its Statue of Liberty color. It comes off with a descaler but it stains the plastic after it has been removed. We installed a scale inhibiting water filter on this machine to reduce the amount of scale that builds up in it. A scale inhibiting water filter does not filter out scale. It creates a chemical reaction with the scale that prevents it from sticking to the inside of your ice machine.

pieces of scale from an ice maker

These chips of scale were found in the reservoir of a small under counter nugget ice machine in Bastrop, Texas.

scale and sulfur build up in Hoshizaki ice machine

This is a combination of scale and sulfur that is partially blocking this part that is integral to controlling the ice thickness. Without this part functioning it will make ice too thin or freeze your whole evaporator into a block of ice.

Scale and mold build up on scotsman ice machine

Where do I begin with this? This is scale. This amount of scale is insane. It is from years of neglect. The customer was adamant that they cleaned the ice machine often and something else was wrong with the machine. That was not the case with this machine. It had scale build up so bad that it was condemned because too many parts would need to be replaced.

Manitowoc ice thickness and water level probe covered in scale build up

These are ice thickness and water level probes on an ice machine in Lubbock. They pretty much do what they are called. They are covered in a layer of scale. The little float looking things at the bottom should be able to move freely as water moves up and down. Because of the scale the floats were weighed down and one was pinned in place giving false readings.

Hoshizaki ice thickness float boot stopped up with scale

This is the outlet of the drain valve on a Manitowoc ice machine in Buda, Texas. The scale was preventing the unit from draining which was causing the minerals in the reservoir to never leave causing even worse scale deposits. Two hours was spent dissolving the scale from the parts of this machine. Nothing else was wrong with the machine.

solenoid valve from manitowoc ice machine not working due to scale build up in ice maker

This is the scale covered plunger on a water valve for an ice machine at a hotel in Round Rock, Texas. The scale has caused the valve to stick open so water is running through the machine into the bin melting the little ice it would make. To get all of this scale off this it needed to be soaked in descaler until everything dissolved off of it. Scrubbing would not remove it all because it was so stuck on the part.


The air filter when clogged starts to heat up the refrigeration system of the machine causing low or no ice production. It filters junk out of the air and that junk gets caught in the screen because the machine can not get any air. If the screen is not cleaned often it will cause issues that sometimes lead to catastrophic problems. It easy to clean the screen but it is not always in plain sight so it is not something people actively think about while running a kitchen or bar.

hoshizaki ice machine air filter dirty

This ice machine is a Hoshizaki nugget ice machine in Round Rock, TX. During its recent PM the technician found that the filter was very dirty and cleaned it. This filter is covered by a louvered panel but is on the front of the machine. Despite putting a sign telling people to clean the filter it never gets done resulting in low or not production and raising the internal temperature potentially causing the breakdown of oil in the refrigeration system. That never ends well.

I don't know about you but I feel like cleaning something after looking at all of these pictures. You are welcome to go it alone and clean your ice machine. There is a bit of a learning curve as far as understanding what comes apart and how the machine goes back together. While it is not difficult to clean your machine correctly it is common for us to be called for repair after a customer has cleaned their own machine because they re-assembled something wrong. Having experience helps a lot when cleaning an ice machine and if there is one thing we know better than anyone else it is how to properly clean an ice machine. We clean and maintain ice machines in the Austin, Texas metro as well as Lubbock, Texas and its surrounding communities. We are always happy to help! 512-651-4565 in Austin and 806-686-0050 in Lubbock, Texas Or Visit our website at