Ice maker filters protect your ice machine from dust, grease, and other contaminants. Particles in the air can damage your air cooled ice machine, so each one is equipped with an air filter.
Aside from regular preventive maintenance, cleaning your air filter is the best way you can avoid expensive commercial ice machine repairs and keep your ice maker producing plenty of ice.
In this article, we’ll explain how air filters keep your commercial ice maker running smoothly and how to keep them clean.
How Ice Maker Filters Protect Your Unit
Your ice maker’s condenser is one of its core components. Condensers cool down refrigerant during the refrigeration process, so the evaporator can use it to freeze ice. The evaporator removes heat from the water until it freezes. As the water freezes into ice, the condenser releases the extra heat through its fins. Airflow releases the heat out of the ice maker and out to the surrounding environment. The ice making process repeats over and over to provide your business with ice all day long.
Depending on your industry, dirt, grease, or other particles are flowing through the air. If they enter your ice maker, they’ll end up attaching to your condenser, which hinders it from cooling refrigerant down. If too many of these particles stick to your condenser, it’ll be unable to release heat, which will cause serious ice maker problems later.
Air filters are your first line of defense against these hazardous air particles. Depending on the ice maker brand, air filters are made of either metal or synthetic mesh. The mesh traps the air particles before they enter your ice machine and stick to your condenser.
High Capacity Filters
Certain challenging environments, like ones with a lot of dirt and grease in the air, may require an additional high volume ice maker filter. This filter is installed over your existing air filter to provide even more filtration against harmful particles.
Here at Automatic Icemakers, we install an Enhanced Air Filtration System to units in challenging environments. This filter is made of a thick, blue synthetic material which does a great job of capturing air particles before they enter your ice maker.
What Harm is a Dirty Air Filter?
Air filters that become clogged with excessive particles warp over time. When an air filter warps, it can’t filter out additional particles as well. Warped air filters are beyond cleaning, and you’ll have to replace them.
Clogged air filters also end up trapping heat around the condenser making it harder to cool the refrigerant. The longer the condenser takes to cool refrigerant, the more it will back up the entire refrigeration system, causing it to work harder.
When a refrigeration system is working too hard, it takes much longer to produce ice.
Another side effect of an overworked refrigeration system is increased energy usage. The more energy your ice maker needs to produce ice, the higher your electric bills will run.
By far the worst symptom of an overworked refrigeration system is a worn-out compressor. When you have a clogged ice machine filter, compressors end up being pushed too hard for too long. If the compressor goes out, it will completely sideline your ice machine, making it impossible for it to produce ice. A compressor replacement will end up costing you thousands of dollars – especially when accounting for the cost of the replacement ice you’ll need when your unit is down for repairs.
How to Clean your Ice Machine Filter
For most work environments, we recommend that you clean your air filter every two weeks. If you have a high particulate environment, with a lot of dirt, grease, flour or yeast in the air, you should be cleaning your air filter far more often.
The brand of ice maker determines where you’ll find its air filter.
Manitowoc ice makers generally have their air filters on the right side of the unit. It’s easy to remove them, and you won’t need any tools. You can remove any air filter by sliding out by hand.
Hoshizaki ice makers generally have air filters installed on the front or right side of the unit. You can remove these the same way as you would with a Manitowoc machine.
To clean an air filter, spray them with hot water to get them looking brand new. If the filter is packed with grease, you can use dish soap or kitchen degreaser, along with hot water.
You can’t wash an air filter in a dishwasher. Dishwashers use very high heat which can warp metal filters and melt synthetic ones. If this happens in either air filter, you’ll have to go out and buy a new one.
How to Care for High Capacity Filters
Trying to clean a high capacity filter isn’t recommended, you’ll have to replace them when they get too dirty.
High capacity filters are generally attached to the front of your ice maker’s existing air filter with Velcro – making them very easy to remove and reinstall.
Remember, cleaning the air filter is your responsibility and is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your ice maker continues to provide you with a steady supply of ice. On top of that, keeping your air filter clean will ultimately save you money in utility bills and expensive repair costs.
For more information on ice machine cleaning, we have created a guide to cleaning a Hoshizaki ice machine and a guide to cleaning a Manitowoc ice machine.
We provide air filters and condenser cleanings with any of our ice maker subscriptions. Contact us or call at (773) 975-2005 for a quote!