A Seasonal Ice Machine Winterization Guide For 2022
There are unique complexities involved with seasonal businesses that shut down for a portion of the year. Where are supplies stored year-round? Can seasonal employees be counted on to return? Seasonal food service business owners must also determine how to access the large equipment they need to operate and what to do with it in the off-season. This article addresses ice machines in seasonal businesses, including the options for procuring one and how to ensure it continues producing for years, even though it sits unused for certain seasons.
Why Winterizing Matters
Commercial ice makers are designed to produce ice all day, every day. They are not meant to sit unused for long periods of time, especially without being carefully prepared for that downtime.
This article instructs on how to ready an ice machine for the winter off-season. However, it’s important to properly prepare an ice machine for any prolonged disuse, no matter the timing of the off-season. Winter simply presents additional challenges for unused ice makers, so winterizing is especially important.
Unused ice machines can freeze during the winter months, which causes major mechanical trouble. When water freezes at or below 32 degrees, it expands. If the container holding the water cannot also expand, it might break. For example, ice machines rely on water lines and a water reservoir, which are made of plastic. During the winter off-season, if the water inside such components freezes and expands, it can crack the plastic. Then when the summer season starts up again, ice machine owners are faced with expensive repairs and delays in ice production.
To avoid this mishap, all components of the ice machine that come into contact with water must be completely blown out and thoroughly dried before the winter temperatures arrive. These components include:
• Evaporator plates
• Float switches
• Water inlet valves
• Water pumps
• Water reservoirs
• Water supply lines
Instructions for Winterizing
It’s highly recommended to hire an experienced service technician to perform the winterizing process. Businesses owners can opt to winterize themselves, but they run the risk of doing it incorrectly or wasting valuable time performing services outside their expertise. An ice machine technician will have the appropriate equipment, such as co2 bottles, and the training and experience to thoroughly winterize an ice machine and ice bin.
A technician will use co2 to force all water out of the ice machine and properly:
1. Shut down the ice machine.
2. Disconnect and drain the water lines.
3. Remove water filter(s).
4. Drain the housing and any reservoirs.
5. Water-cooled ice machines will also require a condenser blow-out.
Concerns for Ice Machines Located Outdoors
Some ice machines are installed outside. Manufacturers recommend all commercial ice machines be installed indoors, but this isn’t feasible for every business. Sometimes ice is needed in an area that isn’t close to a restaurant or building, such as distant tennis courts on large sport complexes. In this case, there are specific recommendations for what to do with that ice machine in the off-season.
The best course of action is to move the ice machine into a building while not in use. If left outside and unsecured, it may be the target of theft. Ice makers contain valuable copper that is easy to access and steal.
If the ice machine is kept outside during the winter, heavy snowfall could dent or damage the exterior of the unit. Also, ice makers are not watertight, so swirling snow or melting ice could enter the ice maker, causing water damage even to winterized units.
Seasonal Rentals are a Solution
There are many choices when it comes to how seasonal business owners obtain the ice they need during the on-season. One option is to buy an ice maker, utilize it during the on-season, winterize it each year, and be responsible for repairs and annual maintenance. However, disuse during the off-season and the difficulty of proper winterization are hard on an ice machine and may shorten its expected lifespan. Another option is to rent an ice machine for the season. Usually, the rental company is responsible for dropping off and picking up the ice maker.
It may be difficult to find cost-effective ice machine rentals in some regions. Not all ice machine rental companies offer seasonal contracts, because it’s hard to recoup the cost of installing and deinstalling the equipment. Some renters make up the cost by charging extremely high rental rates for these shorter terms, making ownership a more cost-effective route. It’s important to research all the options. With this article in hand, business owners are better equipped to weigh the pros and cons and make the best choice.
Seasonal Ice Maker Success
Seasonal business owners can avoid expensive repairs at the start of every season by ensuring their ice maker is properly winterized and installed inside a building. Short on-seasons make it more important to not lose days of ice production to preventable repairs. Additional care paid to the ice maker, both when it’s in use and when it’s not, will prolong the life of the machine and thus, the value of the investment.
John Mahlmeister is the chief operating officer and co-founder of Easy Ice. Co-headquartered in Phoenix, AZ and Marquette, MI, Easy Ice is the national leader in the full-service ice machine subscription industry with warehouse and distribution facilities in Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Orlando, and Denver. Since its founding in 2009, Easy Ice has rapidly grown the number of ice machines under management to 25,000 units across 47 states. Easy Ice’s commercial ice machine subscription programs include installation, cleaning, preventive maintenance, repairs, and backup ice. For more information visit EasyIce.com.
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