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The Dangers of Poor Ice Machine Maintenance & Servicing

As summer is now upon us, it is important to ensure that your catering and bar equipment is working to the highest standards, in particular ice machines, with more customers now choosing to wine and dine outdoors with ice-based cocktails and long-drinks in the hot weather.

Believe it or not, it has been discovered amongst catering and bar operations that ice machines are often overlooked when it comes to maintenance, but ice machines actually require frequent care and servicing otherwise will see costly repairs.

This can be unfortunate for establishments that have previously failed to notice this, as contaminated ice is a health issue that is included on sanitation reports carried out by the Food Standards Agency and EHO (Environmental Health Officer).

Especially now the warmer months are here, it is absolutely essential that any catering or bar operation has a fully working and serviced ice machine that is clean and ready for daily use, just like any other food appliance. No-one wants to deal with ice machine breakdowns or repairs.

Production Ice Machine Maintenance
© Hoshizaki Europe B.V.

Why carry out ice machine servicing?

Shockingly, some caterers are unaware of the dangers of not carrying out regular cleaning on ice machines, which include bacterial diseases and food poisoning, and could potentially see the growth of limescale and slime-forming bacteria.

If you have an ice machine that is kept within a kitchen and resides next to cooking equipment, it may be even more vulnerable to bacterial growth and must be cleaned even more regularly than a machine that takes its place within a bar operation.

Another reason why regular maintenance of your ice machine is important, particularly at this time of year, is to ensure that it doesn’t break down during this busy period when it will be used frequently, resulting in costly ice machine repairs.

Adding to the problem of poor maintenance is that some caterers do not fully understand the importance of how to correctly perform the task of thorough cleaning of an ice machine, and often ignoring the fact that ice machines regularly need a proper maintenance check along with other foodservice equipment.

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Maintained ice machine = better ice & more drinks sold…

Ice in drinks is popular, particularly in the summer. But it is also an intrinsic part of cocktails and spirits with mixers all year long. Think about the rise of the classic gin and tonic, negroni or mojito.

A well-maintained ice machine will give you better quality ice. If your ice machine is producing quality ice it will be harder and clearer, meaning it contains less oxygen. This means it melts slower. There is then a correlation between melting ice and the number of drinks sold.

If you finish a drink and there is ice left, you are likely to order another one. However, if your ice melts as you drink it, this will mean your drink lasts longer and might not buy as many drinks. What is more, melting ice will mean that it dilutes the drink, and taste!

You should also treat ice as food. Just because it is freezing cold, it does not mean that bacteria are not present. Therefore, a quality, well-maintained ice machine will be safer for your customers. This includes the ice machine bin which needs frequent cleaning. Always follow the ice machine manufacturer guidelines!

Ice Machine Servicing & Maintenance | Negroni
© Hoshizaki Europe B.V.
Ice Machine Servicing & Maintenance | Water
© Hoshizaki Europe B.V.

Is your ice machine outputting the right volume?

With ice being a key part of cocktails, often the more ice you use the better. Not just because it helps sell more drinks by not melting as fast, but because during the cocktail making process it helps bring the drink to the right temperature.

Therefore, calculating your ice machine output in relation to the amount of ice you will use, will mean you are not left without ice during service.

According to Hoshizaki, the leading manufacturer of commercial ice machines, you will need 0.75 kg to 1 kg per seat per day in a cocktail bar, or about 300 g of ice per cocktail, including chilling the glass.

So, it is important to ensure your ice machine can output the amount of ice you need. And that is just for cocktails! If your ice machine serves your kitchen that may require ice for food, such as oysters or a fish display, you will need even more ice!

A well serviced and maintained ice machine will continue to output the amount of ice advertised in the specification. If it has stopped outputting as much ice as it should, it is probably time to have it serviced before it needs completely repairing.

Ice machine servicing tips

To help you to ensure that your ice machine meets the highest standards possible, is safe for use and doesn’t require repair, we have put together a few tips you may want to take note of:

  • Use chemicals that have been approved by the manufacturer – Using improper chemicals can damage the metal surfaces and other materials of the machine
  • Clean your ice machine between two to four times a year – If you use it quite often you may want to clean it even more regularly than that
  • Replace parts regularly – It is recommended that you change the filter at least every six months to improve the performance and extend the life cycle of the machine
  • Find a preventative maintenance partner – Finding a good parts provider allows maintenance to be quick and simple, allowing you to focus on the important things

For further ice machine advice including a suitable start-up procedure after a prolonged period of shutdown, read our Kitchen Start-up Guide.

TAG offer service and maintenance of catering equipment, including ice machines, and provide a trusted and reliable partner for your business.

Contact us on 01920 877007 to find out how we can help you with maintenance for your commercial kitchen.

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