The images above are a before and after shot from a Cooper Mechanical Services professional out on a routine service and clean call. Could this be your ice machine? Let Cooper help you out!
An dirty ice machine is a dangerous refrigerator. Without proper cleaning, your home or commercial ice maker is not just inefficient and more prone to needing repairs, but it is also an extremely dangerous playground for some nasty bacteria that could be making you or your customers sick.
Most people are correct in knowing that bacteria thrive in hot and moist conditions, but there are bacteria that can live in cold conditions. The USDA and CDC note that psychrophile organisms and pathogenic bacteria like listeria monocytogenes actually grow in freezing temperatures, so routine cleaning and sanitation of refrigeration units is a best practice for safety and health purposes. It is also important to note that these pathogenic bacteria that live in cold temperatures may not just be lurking in the open, exposed areas of your refrigerator. It is crucial to clean some of the hidden areas of your unit like those around the condenser coils and fan, which may require the removal of the units back cover.
Like the condenser coils in your HVAC unit that we’ve recently discussed
, commercial ice makers similarly uses sets of coils filled with gas and liquid refrigerant to cool the inside of the unit. The image below illustrates the process where refrigerant changes from a hot, compressed gas to a liquid state, moving through the evaporator coils where it changes back to gas and returns to the compressor.
In other words, the area in the ice machine that houses the coils and compressor is the most important part of your unit and likely the dirtiest and least likely to be regularly cleaned. When these coils are clogged with dirt, grime and dust, they can’t properly release heat and as a result your compressor works harder. For the owner, you’ll hear your ice machine running and working harder to keep the internal temperature cool, and that constant humming means a higher electricity bills as well.