Ice-O-Matic Ice Machine Troubleshooting

/ How-To, Industry Tips / April 13, 2017

If your Ice-O-Matic ice machine isn’t operating properly, there are a few things you should look for that may have contributed to the issue. Most ice machines are air cooled and require proper clearance to make the maximum amount of ice possible. Clearance also affects the amount of dust going into the machine, which affects the system’s ability to keep the condenser cool. If the condenser isn’t cool, your ice machine will work harder to make ice. It will also take longer to make ice.

The following information is a general overview of our vast library of Ice-O-Matic ice machine manuals and can help you with troubleshooting your Ice-O-Matic unit.

We’ve also written separate posts on Manitowoc Ice machine troubleshooting and Hoshizaki ice machine troubleshooting for owners of those machines.

How to Clean an Ice-O-Matic Ice Machine

Before jumping into Ice-O-Matic cleaning instructions, you should know how often it needs to be done. The frequency of cleaning will depend on your local water conditions as well as another key factor: yeast. If your business is a brewery, bakery, or pizzeria, yeast in the air will make your ice machine dirty faster, so more frequent cleaning will be required.

There are multiple important steps in cleaning your ice machine:

Bin Cleaning: After removing the ice, wipe the bin down with a mild cleaner and rinse well. This should be done at least once per week and also after the descaling/sanitizing process.

Descaling: This process removes lime scale from the machine. Be sure to use a nickel-safe cleaner. Important: perform descaling and sanitizing together. While descaling is often called “cleaning,” it does not eliminate harmful bacteria like sanitizing does. This process is explained in detail below.

Sanitizing: Performed after descaling, this process removes bacteria which could otherwise create biofilm (slime) buildup in your machine, leading to poor ice quality.

Condenser Cleaning: Brush the dust off the condenser coils often to ensure proper operation. If you have a unit on top of a bin, the condenser is on the back of the machine at the top. If you have an undercounter unit, the condenser is on the bottom.

Air Filter Cleaning: Most Ice-O-Matic machines do not have an air filter. However, if your model does, simply remove it and rinse every 30 days.

Water Filter Change: One thing you can do to ensure your machine lasts longer is to install Ice-O-Matic water filters on the water inline to your ice machine. Swap out the old filter cartridge for a new one every six months. This is the bare minimum required to qualify for Ice-O-Matic’s 7-year parts and labor warranty. Your water filter may need changing more often based on the quality of your municipal supply.

Cleaning Outer Surfaces: It’s easy to keep stainless steel grease-free if you clean it frequently. Do not use any chlorine-based cleaners on stainless steel surfaces. Just use soap and water!

Descaling and Sanitizing Ice-O-Matic Ice Machine

Descaling and saniziting an Ice-O-Matic machine is a pretty simple task. First, make sure you have everything you need to perform the process. Ensure you have an approved nickel-safe ice machine cleaner as well as an EPA approved sanitizer. It is important to wear protective eyewear and gloves during this process, as the ice machine chemicals used can cause burns. All ice must be removed from the bin before beginning.

Next, find the control box. If your machine has the icemaker sitting above the bin, the control box is above the bin behind the front panel. If you have an undercounter unit, the control box is on the bottom behind the front panel.

Here are the detailed steps to descale ice machine. Remember, you will have to sanitize after this process:


  1. Turn off water supply to the ice maker.

  2. Access the control box and push the ICE/OFF/WASH switch to the WASH position.

  3. Press and hold the PURGE switch until all water has been emptied from the water trough.

  4. Switch the machine to OFF.

  5. Mix the nickel-safe cleaner, diluted as per the instructions, so there is one gallon of solution. Pour the gallon of solution into the water trough.

  6. Switch the machine to WASH to circulate the cleaner through the machine. Run for 15 minutes to remove deposits.

  7. Switch the machine to OFF to end the wash cycle.

  8. Remove the splash curtain and inspect the evaporator and spillway for mineral residue. If there is still residue, remove it with a clean cloth.

  9. Unscrew the brass thumbscrews and plastic clamp from the water distribution tube and remove it.

  10. Disassemble the water distribution tube by rotating it and sliding it out of the outer tube.

  11. Clean the water distribution tube using a bottle brush to remove all scale.

  12. Reassemble the water distribution tube, ensuring the tube holes and bump indicator are on top.

  13. Reinstall the splash curtain, ensuring the the bin switch arm is on the outside of the splash curtain.

  14. Clean the water trough with a clean cloth. If there is notable scale, mineral, or slime buildup in the trough due to infrequent cleaning, press and hold the PURGE switch until the trough is empty. Then, remove it and clean it in a sink with a mixture of the descaling solution. If only mild buildup is present, the trough can be cleaned as part of the sanitizing process described below.

  15. Turn the water supply to the ice machine back on and allow the trough to fill.

  16. Turn the machine to WASH and allow the fresh water to circulate for two minutes. Then, press and hold the PURGE switch for two minutes until all of the cleaning solution has been flushed.

  17. Allow the trough to fill with fresh water again and repeat the step 16.

  18. Turn the machine to ICE and make two batches of ice, discarding both batches.

  19. Turn off the water supply to the machine and purge the water trough by holding the PURGE switch.

Now, here are the steps to sanitize your ice machine:


  1. Mix an approved sanitizer, diluted per manufacturer’s instructions to yield one gallon of sanitizing solution and pour into the water trough.

  2. Push the ICE/OFF/WASH switch to WASH to begin circulating the solution through the ice maker. Let run for 10 minutes.

  3. While the machine is being sanitized, clean all splash areas and interior surfaces of the ice bin and door with the sanitizing solution and a clean cloth. If there are tough stains due to infrequent cleaning, use a soft brush.

  4. While the sanitize cycle continues to run, clean the condenser fins with compressed air or a soft bristle brush. A vacuum cleaner is handy to pick up the dust. Use caution as the condenser fins may be sharp. Also be careful not to bend them. If they’re bent, straighten the fins using a fin comb.

  5. Once 10 minutes has elapsed, press and hold the PURGE switch until all the sanitizing solution is drained from the water trough.

  6. Turn the water supply to the machine back on and allow the trough to fill.

  7. Turn the switch to WASH and allow fresh water to circulate for two minutes and then press and hold the PURGE switch for two minutes until the sanitizing solution has been flushed.

  8. Allow the trough to fill with fresh water and repeat step 7.

  9. The machine is now ready for operation.

  10. Replace the font panel and reinstall the panel screws using a screwdriver.

Remember: Discard the first two batches of ice produced after cleaning AND again after sanitizing!

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