A Guide to Commercial Ice Machines in Chicago

Choosing the right commercial ice machine for your Chicago business can be difficult. You have to consider the size of the machine, the type of ice you want, and the amount of ice you need in a day. Once you find the perfect ice machine, you still need to care for it. You’ll need preventive maintenance, cleaning, and repairs to keep them running smoothly. Our commercial ice machine guide is here to help!

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Choosing a Commercial Ice Machine in Chicago

How Do I Choose the Right Type of Commercial Ice Maker for My Business?

Commercial ice makers come in all types of styles and models to fit the ice needs of any Chicago business. Restaurants, hotels, clinics, and manufacturing plants all use ice in their day-to-day operations. Below are some of the types of ice makers for different business needs:

  • Modular Ice Machines

    Modular Ice Machines

    Modular ice machines’ only job is to produce ice. Once you choose a model you still have to buy storage in the form of an ice bin or dispenser. Modular ice makers come in the widest range of sizes and options. They produce any type of ice you need for your business. Our modular ice machines produce between 500 – 1800 lbs of ice a day.

    Learn More About Modular Ice Machines

  • Stackable Ice Machines

    Stackable Ice Machines

    Stackable ice machines allow you to install multiple modular units on top of one another to increase your overall daily ice production. This style of commercial ice machine still requires an ice storage bin or dispenser to store the ice. A stackable ice machine is a good option for Chicago businesses that need a lot of ice but don’t have extra room for multiple ice machines.

    Learn More About Stackable Ice Machines

  • Undercounter Ice Machines

    Undercounter Ice Machines

    Undercounter ice machines are under 40” high, so they can fit underneath counters and bar tops. They average between 50-350 lbs. of ice a day. These commercial ice machines are popular in Chicago bars because they allow bartenders to grab ice directly below them. All undercounter ice makers come with built-in storage. You don’t need to buy a bin of dispenser to hold the ice. Even larger bars can benefit from an undercounter ice machine in addition to your main restaurant ice maker.

    Learn More About Undercounter Ice Makers

  • Countertop Dispenser

    Countertop Ice Makers

    Countertop ice makers fit on top of a counter so customers and employees can have access to ice. Some countertop ice makers come with the machine and dispenser, while others require that you buy a machine to fit on top. They produce between 500-800 lbs. of ice a day. Countertop ice makers are popular in office break rooms and waiting rooms. They are a hygienic way for customers and employees to grab ice and don’t take up a lot of space.

    Learn More About Countertop Ice Makers

How Do I Select the Right Type of Ice Cube?

The ice cube’s shape is not just for looks. Ice shapes provide different need for businesses and industries. Choosing the right type of ice can keep the flavor of drinks intact of save your business money.

Commercial Ice Making Machines in Chicago

What Type of Ice Machine Condenser Do I Need?

Condensers give off heat as your commercial ice machine runs. Each ice machine has a cooling system that works to make sure the inside of the machine doesn’t overheat. There are three common types.

Air Cooled Ice Machines

Air cooled ice machines are the most common type of cooling system because they are simple and cost-effective. A fan inside the ice machine works to cool condenser coils and force hot air outside of the machine and into the surrounding environment. To allow hot air to escape, these systems need plenty of space (at least a foot of space on all sides).

View Our Air Cooled Ice Machines

Commercial Ice Makers  in Chicago

We’ve serviced ice machines across Chicago. No matter the challenge, we know exactly how to keep your ice machine running smoothly. Our pre-installation checklist shows you what you need to provide to install an ice machine in your business. If you have a challenging environment, give us a call and we'll help you find a solution.

Pre-Installation Checklist

Commercial Ice Maker Water Filters

Ice maker water filters trap sediment and dirt that can harm your ice machine. Some also treat the water to get rid of scale. Water filters are essential to a working ice machine. We install a standard sediment water filter on every commercial ice machine we service. There are three major ice maker filters we recommend:

Standard Sediment Filters

Sediment filters trap dirt and sediment that can harm your ice maker. These filters are perfect for all water conditions, but essential in hard water conditions. Standard sediment water filters need replacing every few months. Over time, dirt and sediment can block water filters and restrict water flow. This results in smaller, malformed ice cubes and potential damages to the ice machine.

Phosphate Filters

Phosphate filters are a great option to add to a standard sediment filter when your area has hard water conditions. These filters treat the water so minerals won’t form to create scale, which can cling to the insides of the machine and cause damage. Phosphate filters run out of phosphate every few months and need replacing to continue to treat the water.

Carbon Filters

Carbon filters also trap particles that can damage your ice machine using a process called adsorbtion. These filters can also trap chlorine, which some people can taste or smell in water (and ice). Carbon filters are sometimes used in place of phosphate filters for nugget and flake ice machines that use an auger system. Carbon filters also need replacing every few months or they can clog and cause issues.

Ice Machine Cleaning and Sanitization

Ice machine cleaning helps eliminate mold and slime in your ice maker. A professional ice machine cleaning includes disinfecting and sanitizing, that can kill germs that may linger on your ice machine. A technician will also remove any scale from vital ice machine parts. Mold can lead to damaging health violations, while scale buildup causes damage and leads to expensive repairs.

  • Cleaning a Commercial Ice Maker in Chicago

    Regular Cleanings

    Commercial ice machine manufacturers recommend two professional cleanings per year. Ice machines in challenging environments, like Chicago bakeries or breweries, should get more than two.

    See Our Ice Machine Cleaning Schedule

  • How To Clean A Ice Maker

    Mold and Slime

    Mold and slime feed off yeast and other organic material floating in the air. They grow in dark and moist areas in your ice maker and bin. Health inspectors will write a violation for excessive mold and slime growth if they see it in your ice machine.

    How to Clean Your Ice Machine from Slime and Mold

  • How To Clean An Ice Maker Machine

    Don't Forget About Ice Bin Cleaning

    Ice bins need cleaning, too. They are one of the most common places for mold, slime, and scale to form. They are also susceptible to germs form improper ice handling. Cleaning your ice bin will keep your ice safe and sanitary.

    Simple Steps for Cleaning Your Commercial Ice Bin

How Much Does an Commercial Ice Machine Cost?

Depending on the size of the commercial ice machine, a model can cost a Chicago business anywhere between $1,500 to over $10,000. You’ll also need to provide storage if you choose a modular and stackable ice maker. There are a couple of hidden costs involved with properly caring for an ice machine as well. Here are the most common:


The average preventive maintenance visit costs around $300.

Ice machine manufacturers recommend owners receive at least two maintenance and cleaning visits per year. During a preventive maintenance visit, ice machine technicians will clean the unit and optimize internal components, so it continues to run smoothly. If they see any potential problems, they will alert the user before it leads to an expensive repair.

Water Filters

Most tap water has small amounts of dirt, minerals, and sediment that can enter your ice maker and cause damage. An ice machine water filter protects you from these particles. Filters cost between $15-$100 depending on the brand. They need to be replaced around every six months. If not, water filters will clog and restrict water flow, leading to smaller ice cubes. You may need additional water filtration if you live in a hard water area.


Depending on the severity of the issue, ice machine repairs can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand. Here are some examples of some common ice machine repairs and their average costs:

  • Hot Gas Valve Replacement - $600
  • Expansion Valve - $600
  • Compressor Repair - $1500
  • Evaporator Repair - $2500

Our All-Inclusive Commercial Ice Maker Lease is the Way To Go

Automatic Icemakers has been serving Chicago businesses ice needs since 1961. We sell, lease, and service the leading brands of commercial ice makers. Our commercial ice equipment lease program is more than your typical ice machine lease. You get a top of the line ice machine from Hoshizaki or Manitowoc along with maintenance, cleaning, and repairs into one low monthly payment. We also maintain 24-hour customer support in case anything happens. We track your ice machine service or cleaning so you never skip a visit. We'll even supply your backup ice if your machine is down for extended repairs.

Our job is to make sure your ice production stays at the manufacturer’s specifications – whether that’s today or 10 years from now. With an Automatic Icemaker lease, you don’t even have to think about your ice machine, just the benefit of a guaranteed supply of ice.

Our team of Ice Machine Experts is ready to help you size the perfect commercial ice machine for your business. We have experience providing ice machines for virtually every industry.

Commercial Ice Maker With Bin in Chicago