What Causes an Ice Maker Freeze Up?

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

Ice Maker Freeze Up

You wouldn’t think ice could harm your commercial ice machine, but an ice maker freeze up can do extensive damage if it’s not rectified. Chicago businesses need to maintain the reliability of their ice machine to meet customer demand. An ice maker freeze up will not only cause your ice maker to not make enough ice, but can also damage important ice machine components.

At Automatic Icemakers, we specialize in keeping ice machines in the Chicago area running efficiently. We’ve seen our fair share of ice maker freeze ups and are here to give you some pointers on how to prevent them from occurring.

What is an Ice Maker Freeze Up?

An ice maker freeze up occurs when ice can’t release off the ice machine’s evaporator plate. During this time, water continues to flow over the stuck ice cube, and the ice cube grows. Eventually that cube becomes a massive block of ice which can prevent your machine from dropping ice or damages the evaporator plate altogether. Broken evaporators are an expensive ice machine repair – which is why Chicago businesses should do all they can to prevent freeze ups.

Ice maker freeze ups are actually quite easy to identify, it’s diagnosing the problem that’s difficult. Often, an underlying issue must be addressed – or else the ice machine will freeze up again.

Around the Clock Ice Machine Service

We know that ice machine issues happen at any time of day and that’s why our customer service line is open 24 hours a day.

The Most Common Causes of an Ice Maker Freeze Up

There are many reasons for an ice maker freeze up, here are some of the most common issues we see serving Chicago businesses:


Scale is the result of hard water in your ice maker. The minerals in the water bind together and will cling to surfaces that see a lot of water flow. Luckily, Chicago has some of the clearest water in the nation. However, many rural areas in Illinois suffer from hard water.

In ice makers, water flows over a cold evaporator plate until it forms a cube. Normally, when the ice grows to a particular size the machine harvests the ice by heating the evaporator plate. Some Hoshizaki ice machines also use flowing water to assists in releasing the ice as well.

Scale can cause ice to stick to an evaporator plate, which makes it much harder to release the cubes. If an ice cube does get stuck, it will grow over continual freeze cycles until it becomes a large chunk of ice that can harm your ice maker.

Routine professional cleaning (like we do here at Automatic Icemakers) is the best way to handle scale in your machine. A water softener or phosphate filter can also help prevent minerals from forming, reducing scale in your unit.

Bin Control Malfunctions

The ice maker’s bin control monitors the amount of ice in a Hoshizaki ice bin or Manitowoc ice bin so it doesn’t overflow. Once the bin reaches the maximum capacity, the machine shuts off, stopping ice production.

If your bin control malfunctions, the ice machine won’t shut down. The machine will continue to produce ice to the point where it clogs the ice machine’s drop zone. Once the drop zone is plugged up, ice can’t deposit, and the ice maker freezes up.

Preventive maintenance us the best way to avoid this situation from happening. Here at Automatic Icemakers, we suggest at least 2 preventive maintenance visits a year from a qualified ice machine technician.

If you happen to notice your ice machine is still running, even though the bin is full, shut down the machine immediately and call a professional ice machine service in Chicago right away.

Float Switch Issues

Hoshizaki ice makers use a float switch that helps control the amount of water used during the freeze cycle.

There are issues that a float switch encounters that can cause the machine to make larger than normal ice. These larger cubes have a harder time releasing from the evaporator plate.

This situation can also lead to an ice machine freeze up, so if you notice larger ice in the storage bin, give an ice machine technician a call as soon as you can.

Clogged Water Lines

The ice machine water line is responsible for delivering water to your commercial ice equipment. If the line is plugged by mineral content or too small it will restrict the proper amount of water you ice machine needs to operate.

This can be a big problem during cold, Chicago winters. During these months water lines can freeze over, restricting water flow.

When water flow is hindered, it can cause the ice machine to have a harder time releasing ice cubes off the evaporator plate. Users will likely see smaller or malformed ice cubes, resulting in an ice machine freeze up.

If you notice this happening, it’s best to call a plumber to fix the issue. They may need to insulate your water line, to prevent them from freezing up.

Avoid Costly Ice Machine Freeze Ups with Preventive Maintenance

If you want to avoid costly repairs due to ice maker freeze ups, routine preventive maintenance is the way to go. Freeze ups can damage evaporator plates which are some of the most expensive ice maker components to repair.

Our skilled technicians at Automatic Icemakers are trained to catch ice maker problems that lead to freeze ups before they can do significant damage to your ice maker. Call us if you need quality ice machine service right away.

Under our all-inclusive ice machine lease, we make sure all our ice machines receive biannual maintenance and cleaning to keep them running like new. Looking for a new ice machine for your Chicago business? Our experienced Ice Machine Experts can point you in the right direction!

Our team is available to help you get started today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *