Ice Machine Not Making Enough Ice? Here Are the Most Common Causes.

Reading Time: 5 minutes Ice Machine Care, Ice Machines 101

Ice machine not making enough ice

Have you ever walked into work and realized your ice bin isn’t as full as it normally is? If it seems like your ice machine is not making enough ice, it could be due to an underlying problem.

Below are some common situations that can lead to low ice production.


When manufacturers rate the production of commercial ice equipment, they do it under specific temperature ranges. When you look up the maximum amount of ice a machine produces, it’s calculated when the air surrounding the ice machine is 70-degrees. They also rate the machine when the incoming water to the machine is 50-degrees. This is likely the rating most people look at when trying to pick the right size ice maker and ice storage bin for their business.

AHRI capacity calculates the amount of ice a machine will produce when the temperatures rise to 90-degree air and 70-degree water.

As you can see, the maximum capacity is always higher than the AHRI capacity because as temperatures rise, the ice machine produces less ice.

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Many times, when a customer calls about their ice maker is not filling up all the way there is often nothing wrong with the machine at all. The issue is completely due to their environment. The temperature in the room has risen without the user’s knowledge, either because summer has brought higher temperatures, or the ice machine doesn’t have enough space to expel hot air from the unit.

If your ice maker has stopped working, check the temperature in the room. If it’s over 80 degrees, try lowering the thermostat to around 70 to 75 degrees.

If the room is fine, but the air directly around your ice machine is over 85 degrees, make sure your ice machine is getting enough ventilation. If there are boxes or other clutter around the machine, clear those out. If the industrial ice cube maker doesn’t have at least a foot of space on all sides of the machine, install the machine in a larger area.

Low Water Flow

Depending on the model, a commercial ice machine generally requires between 3-5 gallons of water per minute to make a batch of ice. When your ice machine doesn’t get enough water, you’ll begin to see smaller ice cubes – or an ice maker might stop working altogether.

Here are a few reasons why your ice maker might not be receiving enough water:

  • Your ice maker is leaking
  • Your water line is frozen or plugged shut
  • Dirty Water Filter
  • Faulty Water Inlet Valve
  • Another appliance pulling water from the ice machine (dishwasher, sink, etc)

Ice maker issues like a dirty water filter or faulty water inlet valve will require a skilled ice machine technician.

Other problems that are not related to your ice machine, like water line issues or other appliances pulling water away, will require a plumber.

Freeze Ups

A freeze-up is when a large block or sheet of ice forms on the machine’s evaporator plate and won’t release when the machine drops ice. If this happens, the ice machine won’t make enough ice or stop making ice altogether.

Freeze ups can happen for a number of reasons including:

  • Scale buildup on the evaporator plate
  • Low water flow to the ice machine
  • Component failure inside the ice machine
  • Improper setup or installation

Melting the ice off the evaporator plate to get the machine running again might get it running again but won’t solve the underlying issue.

Again, it’s best to call an ice machine technician to help prevent scale buildup or perform ice machine repairs if needed.

If your water line is not delivering enough water to the machine and causing a freeze up, you’ll need to call a plumber.

Bin Control Issues

Your ice machine’s bin control is responsible for shutting down the ice machine when your ice bin is full.

Bin controls have been known to fail, which leads to the ice machine shutting down too early.

There are two main types of bin controls, mechanical and thermostatic.

Mechanical bin controls have a switch, known as an actuator door, that depresses when ice reaches it. When the actuator door depresses, the machine shuts down. In some cases, the door can stick and stay shut. When this happens, the ice maker will stop producing ice until the door can release.

Thermostatic bin controls are common in large ice makers. These bin controls use temperature to stop ice production when your bin fills. When ice reaches the thermostatic bin control, a bulb registers the drop in temperature and shuts the machine down.

If an ice machine is installed in a room where the temperature is below 50 degrees, they can fail. If this happens, the machine may never turn back on until the temperature rises around the ice machine.

Ice Maker Not Making Enough Ice?

If your ice machine is not making enough ice, some troubleshooting might be in order. Check the temperature around your ice machine to see if heat is the issue. It could be that your ice maker is working just fine, but environmental factors are at play.

If you’re a Chicago business with ice machine problems, give Automatic Icemakers a call. We have decades of experience servicing commercial ice machines for Chicago businesses. If you’re in the market for a new ice machine, our ice maker rentals come with everything you need to keep your ice machine running smoothly year-round.

Our team is available to help you get started today!

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