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It might surprise you, but the images above aren’t from a horror film. They’re before shots from a routine refrigeration service and cleaning.  The bad news is that unsightly buildup in ice machines is common. It can cause black flakes in your ice and make your customers sick.

The good news is that you can prevent it with easy maintenance. In today’s post, we’ll cover some must-knows when dealing with a funky ice machine so you can keep your unit running as cleanly and efficiently as possible. 

dirty ice machine, bacteria, mold

Coming Clean

A sign something has gone awry is when you notice strange tastes or colors in your ice or dark buildups inside. Another concern is finding black flakes in your ice. A few culprits could be responsible, including bacterial growth, or trace amounts of other environmental materials.

Whatever the cause, a dirty ice machine is ugly at best. It’s also inefficient, prone to malfunction, and a playground for nasty bacteria that could make people sick.

For business owners, it could be a health code violation waiting to happen. 

Under the Microscope

Most people know that bacteria grow in hot and moist conditions. However, plenty of bacteria thrive in the cold. 

Studies have shown that psychrophilic organisms grow just fine in freezing temperatures. According to the CDC, these include bacteria like listeria monocytogenes. These infect an estimated 1,600 people annually, of which about 260 die. 

It should go without saying that scheduling cleaning and maintenance of ice machines is of paramount importance. 

Where to Look

Harmful microscopic pests aren’t confined to obvious surfaces or the black flakes in your ice. They often fester in hard-to-reach areas. Two of these hidden spots are condenser coils and compressors. 

These are the most essential areas, yet they are the least likely to be regularly cleaned. 

When coils are clogged with dirt, grime, and dust, they can’t properly release heat, and their compressors overcompensate as a result. A telltale sign is hearing the ice machine running harder and more often. This overcompensation keeps the internal temperature cool but makes electric bills higher. 

You should pay special attention to your ice machine’s nooks and crannies. For more information on cleaning them, see our previous post here

Get in Touch

If you’re finding black flakes in your ice, don’t put off addressing the problem until it damages your customers’ health or your reputation. Whether you need routine cleaning or extensive maintenance on your commercial ice maker, we’re here to help.  

Call Cooper today, and we’ll keep your kitchen clean, safe, and efficient!