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When was the icemachine invented?


  • Noise: If you find the unit too noisy for your kitchen or wet bar, you can put it on a timer that runs it, say, at night when you are sleeping on the other side of the house, or when you are out of the house at work. Most households don't need the full capacity of the unit potentially running 24 hours/day and can get by with about 8 hours, using the reserve during the rest of the day. Use a timer rated for a 1/3 (or more) horsepower motor, such as the Intermatic HB31R timer (15 amp motor rating), since most timers are only rated for lamps.


  • Cloudy ice: Cloudy ice in a newly installed machine is typically caused by too much mineral content (hardness) in the water supply. If you are getting cloudy cubes, you can test this problem by shutting off the water supply, emptying the reservoir, and filling it manually with bottled water for a cycle or two.

If you've had a machine producing clear ice, but the ice turns cloudy, the trouble is likely not that the incoming water is too hard. Cloudy ice can be the bizarre result of a restriction in the incoming water flow, even though the water supply is itself OK. The failure process is this: during the refill cycle, the incoming water valve is supposed to open long enough to significantly overfill the reservoir, resulting in the excess overflowing into the drain tube and out of the machine. This flushes enough fresh water through the reservoir to dilute the minerals which concentrate in the unfrozen water during the freezing process. If the water supply is somehow restricted, it can refill the reservoir, but just enough to not overflow, and each cycle results in more and more mineral concentration being retained. Eventually the concentration increases enough to cloud the ice. You don't even need bottled water to test this diagnosis; just try flushing the reservoir well with tap water, assuming your tap water isn't super-hard, and see if you don't get a significantly clearer slab for that cycle; if so, then you may have insufficient incoming water flow, and you should check the valve as described in detail above.

Another strange cause of cloudy ice is possible if you supply water to the ice machine from a water softener or water conditioner appliance that uses salt. Various problems, such as faulty regeneration cycling valves in a salt-charged water softener, can inject a dose of salt accidentally into your house water lines. A little salt in your water supply, perhaps not even enough to taste, will yield cloudy, soft ice. It is best to avoid this potential problem by plumbing an unsoftened water supply, if possible, to your machine.


  • Acid cleaning solutions: The instructions on the bin door for cleaning the ice machine suggest using a citric acid or phosphoric acid solution (6 ounces dry powder in 1/2 gallon of water) to remove the brown, crusty mineral deposits ("lime") that tend to build up on the water-recirculating parts of the unit (reservoir bin, evaporator plate, and vicinity). Any moderately strong organic acid is suitable, including sufamic and glycolic acids, in a similar concentration. For example, you can use CLR brand acid cleaner by Jelmar, which is widely available and relatively inexpensive; various MSDS references list sulfamic, glycolic (aka hydroxyacetic or hydroxyethanoic), and citric acids as its ingredients. Home Depot sells a ZEP store brand version by the gallon. Home Depot also has sold a phosphoric acid cleaner called "Aqua Mix". The cheapest and most convenient source of phosphoric acid is hidden in paint stores as a generic product for rust conversion, such as in gallon jugs with a little coloring added to make it look like a complex product instead of just diluted raw material. These are all "nickel safe" acids; that is, they won't corrode the nickel plating on the evaporator or the nickel-chromium grid wire. Full-strength household vinegar will also work, but being a weak 5 percent concentration, it will take a much longer time to loosen tough mineral deposits, and your ice machine will smell like a salad.


  • Diagnosing poor performance: A common problem is a unit that still makes ice, but performs poorly, making only thin slabs or taking much longer 1/2 hour to finish a 1/2 inch thick slab. You may get some cubes dropping into the bin, but they are not produced fast enough to fill the bin in a day or two (that is, the normal melting of the ice is outrunning the production). (If your system produces no ice, and is not chilling at all, see Diagnosing zero performance below.)

The first thing to check is that dust on the condenser in the bottom of the unit isn't restricting air flow. It may seem obvious, and we've all heard the advice to clean refrigerator coils, but this is easy to overlook and happens faster than on a refrigerator. The heat exchanger coils and fins are very tightly spaced, and typically build up a mat of dust in a matter of a few months. The best way to clean them is gently using a vacuum cleaner and narrow crevice tool to suction off the dust mat. Take care to avoid bending the fins. Consider running the machine with the bottom panel removed to improve air flow and heat rejection, at least temporarily for diagnosis. I have heard of at least one case where a technician on a service call for poor performance said the machine was beyond repair and should be replaced, when in fact all that was wrong was a build-up of dust on the condenser that the owner subsequently diagnosed and fixed himself.