Buying a used ice machine for sale in Chicago can be a cost-effective way to provide ice, but with any used equipment, there is a risk. Ice machines may look tough, but they’re actually quite delicate. Luckily there are ways to identify red flags that can signify a bad investment.
Here are a few things you should watch out for when shopping for a used commercial ice machine for sale.
1. Maintenance History
An ice machine is only as good as the amount of maintenance it receives. There are vital components within an ice machine that require regular maintenance to keep working. When owners neglect these components, they run the risk of breaking down. Some components, like condensers, evaporators, and compressors, can be very costly to repair.
Manufacturers recommend at least 2 preventive maintenance events a year for their ice machines. Ice machines in a challenging environment, like a bakery or warehouse, require even more.
Which leads us to…
2. Past Installation Environment
Depending on the past environment, a used ice machine may have been working harder than it was designed to.
There are a few environments that can overwork an ice machine and its components; they include:
- Areas with no air conditioning or outdoors
- Low ventilation areas, like cubbies and closets
- Bakeries and breweries
- Warehouses, factories, and busy kitchens
- No Air Conditioning or Low Ventilation Areas
Ice machines are designed to work in ambient air temperatures of around 70 degrees. As the temperature rises, the machine works harder to produce a batch of ice. All that extra work causes components to wear down faster.
While you may find a used ice machine for sale that’s only a year old, it’s possible it may have worked as much as one running for 3-4 years.
Bakeries and Breweries
A used ice making machine for sale from a bakery or brewery could be harboring mold if it wasn’t cleaned regularly. These establishments produce a lot of yeast, which saturate the air and enter your ice machine, causing mold and slime to grow at faster rates.
While mold and slime might not damage the ice maker, a health inspector will write you up for a violation if they see it in your machine or bin.
Professional cleanings are the best way to eliminate mold and slime, but they can cost a few hundred dollars. The seller should not pass that charge on to the buyer unless fully stated.
Warehouses, Factories, and Busy Kitchens
Industrial ice machines or restaurant ice machines often operate in areas with high levels of dust, dirt, or grease. These particles can attach to your ice machine’s condenser, which can overheat the ice machine.
Air cooled ice machines release heat generated by the unit through a series of vents. When particles attach themselves to your condenser, they act as an insulator, preventing the ice machine from releasing heat into the surrounding environment.
3. Internal Corrosion
While the exterior of a used ice machine may look shiny and new, it’s the inside that really counts!
Internal leaks inside an ice machine can corrode the interior of the unit, given enough time. When you find a used ice machine for sale that you like, remove the front faceplate, and examine the inside of the unit. If you notice rusting or corrosion, you should consider buying another machine. You’ll need to replace the corroded areas, and it likely signifies a leak from within the machine.
4. Dirty Condensers
As we explained above, when an ice machine’s condenser is coated with dirt or dust, it cannot properly release heat. Ice machines in any environment should receive at least two professional cleanings per year to clean these particles off the condenser.
When inspecting a used ice maker, look to see if there’s a coat of dust or grease on the ice machine’s condenser. If so, the machine is due for a professional cleaning.
5. Damaged Evaporators
Evaporators are where water freezes into ice. Once frozen, the ice releases from the evaporator and into an ice bin or ice dispenser.
When scale forms on an evaporator, it sticks to the surface and acts as an insulator. In this state, the evaporator has a harder time freezing ice.
The ice that does manage to form will have a much harder time releasing from the evaporator plate.
Overall, scale can reduce the ice machine’s daily production and can lead to expensive repairs.
Keep in mind, different types of ice machines have their evaporators in different places:
Used Hoshizaki Ice Machine Evaporators
Hoshizaki ice machines, especially KM-series ice machines, have a closed evaporator, making it very hard to see the area where the ice forms.
The best way to examine a used Hoshizaki ice machine evaporator is to look at the plate from the top and bottom of the ice machine.
To get a top view of the evaporator, you’ll need to remove the roof of the machine. Look for any dents or warping. If the plates are cracked or bubbling, choose another ice machine.
To see the bottom of the evaporator, you’ll need to remove the front cover. Look for any plate separation. Tap the plates and see if you hear them bang together. The plates should be solid and connected.
Used Manitowoc Ice Maker Evaporators
Manitowoc ice machines have much easier access to their evaporator plates.
To inspect a used Manitowoc ice maker evaporator, open the front panel and look behind the water curtain (the large plastic panel just behind the front panel).
The evaporator looks like a grid-shaped metal plate. While examining, check for any bent or damaged metal. Make sure you don’t see any separation, either.
Finally, run your fingernail across the metal. If your fingernail sticks to the metal, that’s a good sign of scale damage.
Carefully Inspect a Used Ice Machine for Sale
A used ice machine is only as good as its components. An ice machine may seem fine from the outside, but it could be a disaster waiting to happen.
When buying a used ice maker, make sure to purchase from a credible dealer. Better yet, why not try an ice machine lease?
Ice machine leases are a low-cost way of providing ice to your customers. Our all-inclusive ice machine lease comes with the best ice machine models along with commercial ice machine repair, preventive maintenance, and cleaning to keep it running in top shape! Contact us today!