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Refrigeration Maintenance Tips

Ice Flake Machine Troubleshooting

Ice Flake Machine Troubleshooting

When water is frozen in an evaporator flooded with water, minerals in the water will often build up on the walls of the evaporator. This mineral buildup will cause added resistance for the ice cutting auger. Mineral buildup (scale) is a porous material and is a good insulator to heat transfer. The refrigerant will now see less heat load from the water in the cylinder and the evaporator pressure will drop. A drop in evaporator pressure will cause a colder evaporator and harder ice. The cutting auger’s flights now has to cut harder ice along with mineral that have built up on the evaporator surface. The result is a loud crunching or squealing noise coming from the evaporator compartment. This added resistance of cutting ice and mineral buildup will also add extra load on the gear motor. A higher amp draw will be the result.


When the ice-cutting auger is stressed, so is the gear motor and drive train. The ice-cutting auger, drive train with gears, and the gear motor are all connected. When the gear motor is stressed from cutting hard ice and minerals, the extra torque generated from the motor will cause excessive heat. This may cause the gear motor’s overload to open and shut the unit down until a service person manually resets the overload on the gear motor. Cleaning the ice flake machine according to the manufacturer’s recommendations with an approved cleaner, and inspecting the bearings connecting the cutting auger with the drive train will prevent mineral buildup on the freezing cylinder’s surface and keep the ice flake machine operating quieter and longer.

Ice Flake Auger

Often, grease can leak out of a bearing housing and start a bearing failure. If a bearing has started to fail, the cutting auger may wobble from the added clearance in the worn bearing. This wobbling as the auger rotates may cause the auger to touch the freezing cylinder (evaporator) and scar its surface. If scarring of the evaporator surface or auger’s cutting surface has occurred, one of the components will, for sure, have to be replaced. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendation when replacing a cutting auger or freezing cylinder. It is this gear motor assembly that is more susceptible to failure than any other part of the ice flake machine.

Remember, as the auger rotates and cuts ice and mineral deposits, the gear motor and gear assembly senses all of these stresses and strains. It is for this reason that some manufacturers have manufactured open-type gear case housing assemblies. This means the gear assembly has a vent and is exposed to the atmosphere, usually with a soft plastic plug holding the gear lube (grease) from escaping. When excessive heat occurs from gear motor stress, expanded hot grease can escape through the vent. However, one has to be careful to keep the vent hole plugged or moisture can enter. This will deteriorate the lubricating effect of the grease, and excessive gear wear will result.

Usually, a regular clicking sound will be heard from the drive train if a gear is chipped from poor lubrication or too much stress. However, if the auger motor is starting to fail, a loud, higher pitch noise will be heard. Cleaning the ice flake machine with an approved cleaner and inspecting the bearings connecting the cutting auger with the drive train will prevent mineral buildup on the freezing cylinder’s surface and keep the ice flake machine operating quieter and longer.

Did You Know?

Water it is a natural solvent

By the time water reaches a restaurant, it has developed a unique chemistry that can be surprisingly diverse and highly complicated. As water descends as rainfall, it picks up CO2 that gives it a slight acidity. When it reaches the earth, it either descends to underground aquifers or drops into lakes and rivers.

Water it is a natural solvent, so when it percolates down to underground aquifers, it literally dissolves rock. These dissolved minerals, known as Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), are what create scale in foodservice equipment. Total Dissolved Solids can be combinations of "hard" minerals such as calcium and magnesium, or "soft" minerals such as sodium.

When water ends up in lakes and rivers, it can pick up suspended solids such as silt and clay, and organic matter such as bacteria, algae and cysts.

Water from underground or from surface water can both contain chemicals from human contamination such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's) and nitrates, and gasses from fermentation of plant matter or by products of bacteria growth. Municipal water companies can draw water from aquifers or from surface waterósometimes from both. In order to provide your business and home with safe tap water, it is disinfected with either Chlorine or Chloramine.

Finally, as water travels to your faucet or equipment, it can pick up metal particles from corroded pipes. So by the time it has made its way to your coffee brewer or ice machine, it can contain calcium, magnesium, silica, chlorides, iron, copper, sodium, sulphates, carbonates and bicarbonates, hydrogen sulfide gas, cysts, bacteria, dead plant matter, ferric iron, silt, clay, chlorine or chloramine. Most of this is not visible. The concentrations of these contaminants vary depending on:

  • Where you live. Some areas have large limestone deposits that create hard water. Other areas, such as Hawaii, have serious problems with silica. In the colder states salt used
    Hard Water
    on roads for de-icing can leach into water supplies.
  • Whether your water comes from underground aquifers or from surface water. Water from aquifers tends to be hard because it dissolves minerals as it travels through the rock. Water from lakes and rivers tends to have more organics, so as algae bloom and die, your water can become discolored (tannins) or develop unpleasant odors.
  • The disinfecting chemicals your water treatment plant uses. It's easy to recognize water treated with chlorine and chloramine as it will
  • have a distinctive swimming pool smell and taste. Chloramine is chlorine with a small amount of ammonia added. The ammonia slows the dissipation of the chlorine, so the disinfectant stays in the water longer.

Because water can have so many contaminants, it can create serious issues with not only the taste, odor and appearance of your beverages and ice, but also with the performance of your water-using equipment. Chlorides can cause corrosion to plumbing and equipment parts. Hydrogen sulfide gas can give water a strong rotten egg smell. Sodium can cause fountain beverages to lose their fizz and ice to be soft.

Water with high levels of calcium and magnesium can create scale. This often looks like a hard white chalky material although it can take on many colors and textures. Scale is formed when energy is applied to water. For example, when water is converted to steam, the minerals drop out of solution and cling to nearby surfaces. This can build up over time, and be difficult to remove. Scale that is ºî thick can reduce energy efficiency by 28.5 percent. Your operating costs go up, and your equipment breaks down more.

Reverse Osmosis System

This is why it is important to test your water. By determining your water's unique characteristics, the right water treatment can be applied. If you have a strong chlorine taste and smell, a good carbon filter should solve the problem. If your hardness is higher than it should, you can apply a water softening system. If your Total Dissolved Solids are excessive, then you will need a reverse osmosis system.

By bringing your water to the standards established for foodservice operations, you are ensuring that your customer's beverages and food will taste as they should, and your equipment will require fewer maintenance calls and last longer.


Hotel / Motel - Room ServiceCube5 lbs. per person
Hotel / Motel - Food ServiceCube1.5 lbs. per person
Hotel / Motel - Banquet ServiceCube or Crushed1 lbs. per person
RestaurantCube3 lbs. per person
Bar / Cocktail LoungeCube3 lbs. ice per person
HospitalCube5 lbs. per bed
HospitalCrushed10 lbs. per bed
Nursing HomeCube6 lbs. per bed
Nursing HomeCrushed12 lbs. per bed
CafeteriaCube3 lbs. per seat
CafeteriaCrushed6 lbs. per seat
Salad BarCrushed Ice4 lbs. per sq. ft.
Fast FoodSmall or Half Cube3 lbs. per person
Super Bowl Parties!Small or Half Cube3 to 4 lbs. per person should be mandatory
for all gatherings



ICE Specification Guide for Soft Drinks
(The amount of ice you need to fill up approximately 3/4 of a cup with cube ice)
6 oz.2 1/2 oz.
8 oz.3 oz.
10 oz.3 1/2 oz.
12 oz.4 1/2 oz.
14 oz.5 oz.
16 oz.6 oz.
20 oz.7 1/2 oz.
24 oz.9 oz.
28 oz.10 1/2 oz.
32 oz.12 oz.


Salad Bars
4" deep per square foot = 8 lbs. cube / crushed ice per square foot

Water Containers
4 lbs. of cube ice per gallon