How To Diagnose A Manitowoc Ice Machine August 07 2014, 5 Comments

Commercial ice machines can be intimidating, even to experienced service technicians. They can also take a long time to properly diagnose and isolate the problematic ice machine part. I'll cover some basic techniques you can use to troubleshoot your Manitowoc ice machine, before calling out an expensive service tech.

The first step is to understand how a Manitowoc ice maker works. Experts in commercial refrigeration and ice making equipment recommend following a sequence of events. This sequence of events is a layout of exactly what the ice machine should be doing at an exact time in a cycle. For example, newer modular Manitowoc ice machines will purge the water from the trough before beginning a freeze cycle. This should tell you exactly when the dump valve should be energized. Service literature is available for free from the Manitowoc Ice website, where you can find specific service help for your model ice maker.

Following this map of events within a Manitowoc machine will help you isolate an ice machine part that has failed to function. If the ice maker is calling for water, there should be electricity to the water inlet valve, if there isn't, or no water is entering the system, then we know we need to take care of that problem first. Thankfully, replacement of the part is not always necessary.

The second step to diagnosing your own machine is knowing how the individual parts actually work. It's important to know that inside a water inlet valve or dump valve, there is a plunger, spring, and coil. Simply taking apart one of these valves and cleaning any debris can often times solve your ice making problem. You can't make ice without water and unless your ice machine is properly filtered, scale or even bugs can stop water flow.

If you were able to identify the broken ice machine part, the next step is to decide whether you should replace it. Factors that should be considered is the age of the ice machine, the condition of the rest of the parts in the ice maker, and the cost of the part. Manitowoc states that the average lifespan of a commercial ice machine is 7-10 years. If your equipment has surpassed this time frame, then it's time to get a competitive quote on complete replacement.

Lastly, don't underestimate the power of a good cleaning. Depending on which parts of the country you live in, water quality can absolutely destroy the ability of a commercial ice machine. Hard water or scale can build up on the evaporator, not allowing the ice to drop. By following the sequence of events we have a set time on how long this cycle should take. If it takes too long, most Manitowoc ice makers will shut down and flash a safety limit code.

The safety limit code can also assist in troubleshooting your Manitowoc equipment. Deciphering which safety the machine is shut out on can be done by counting the number of flashes on the control board safety limit light. This indicator light will direct you to which cycle the machine was not functioning properly in. Again, following the sequence of events, finding the problematic part can boil down to simply watching the ice maker attempt to freeze and harvest a batch of ice.

Lastly, if you are stuck, calling a licensed refrigeration technician is a viable option. Manitowoc has trained FAS's or Factory Authorized Service representatives. These techs have been through Manitowoc ice training schools and are the best people to call for any problems you may have. If the machine is in or out of warranty, they are able to assist and get your establishment back in ice.