Jun 10, 2023

Closing for the Winter? How to Winterize Your Ice Machine

Commercial ice machines can be overlooked during this preparation, which is problematic as these units are built for constant use. Failure to properly prepare winterize an ice machine before a long period of disuse can result in a slew of repairs or problems upon reopening, when the last thing a business owner needs is to deal with a service company. Instead, owners of businesses that close for the winter can take these precautionary steps to ensure the spring opening transition is smooth.

Boat owners in four-season climates know their boat must be winterized every year to make sure it’s seaworthy the following year. Failure to do so can cause lasting harm or expensive repairs. Ice makers are similar. They can be damaged by frozen water left in their system.

Water expands as it freezes at or below 32 degrees. Inside an ice maker, there are numerous components that hold or touch water. When that water freezes where and when it shouldn’t and thus expands, a vessel like a water reservoir or water line can crack or break. When the ice maker environment drops below 32 degrees, any water left in the machine is dangerous to the ice maker.

What can be done to avoid the problems of frozen water? Either by hiring an ice machine technician or DIY, the following components must be completely blown out and dried ahead of the winter temperature change. Such components include:

But there is even more to a proper winterizing process. Below the exact steps are outlined.

We suggest hiring an ice machine technician to winterize the ice maker and bin. Special tools are required for the process, such as CO2 bottles, and an intimate knowledge of ice maker components is also necessary. Ice machine owners can follow the steps below if they want to attempt winterizing the machine themselves.

Sometimes, on large sports complexes and other campuses, an ice maker is installed outside (even though manufacturers caution against this). If an ice maker is installed outside while in use during the season, it should be brought back inside during the off-season. Even if it is winterized, it’s at risk for theft of the valuable copper inside. Additionally, heavy snowfall could dent or damage the exterior of the unit. Wind could also push snow inside ice makers, as they are not airtight. Melting snow would present the same potential for water damage as not winterizing the machine.

If winterizing the ice maker seems like a lot of work or they don’t have a place to store the unit in the off-season, business owners may consider seasonal rentals. Seasonal rental companies deliver the ice maker at the beginning of the season, install it, and then pick it up at the end.

Many people consider this option because they’re aware that even with the best winterizing process, disuse is not good for the ice maker. Years with periods of constant use and times of total disuse are hard on an ice maker and may result in a shortened lifespan.

The challenge is finding a reasonably priced seasonal rental. Not every ice maker rental company offers seasonal rentals, and those that do charge a premium to cover the costs of installing and deinstalling the unit. As seasonal business owners are considering buying an ice machine, they should research all ice machine subscription or rental options first.

If expensive repairs occur at or near the beginning of every season, it’s time to inspect the winterizing procedures. Proper winterization can help a business owner get more years out of the ice maker, avoid costly repairs, and make sure the ice is flowing upon reopening every year.

John Mahlmeister is the chief operating officer and co-founder of Easy Ice. Easy Ice is the national leader in the full-service ice machine subscription industry with warehouse and distribution facilities in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, and Orlando. Since its founding in 2009, Easy Ice has rapidly grown the number of ice machines under management to 30,000 units across 47 states. Easy Ice’s commercial ice machine subscription programs include installation, cleaning, preventive maintenance, repairs, and backup ice. For more information, please visit their website or connect with them online on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

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