Ice machines are somewhat plain and simple to use. They usually do not have a lot of buttons (some models have no control panels at all), and the process is simple: you turn on the ice maker, and it starts producing. It all sounds easy until the ice begins tasting bad, or it doesn’t come out of the ice machine at all.
We have had a chance to go through a lot of models, and to test out a lot of different mechanisms which ice machine use. While doing all this, a pattern emerged, and that is – do not be alarmed. Usually, the cause of machine halt is something rather minor, like a stuck ice cube or dirt, so there is no reason to sound the alarm right away. We want to recommend some easy check-ups and solutions to you before you call the professionals.
Before You Begin The Problem Solving
So, ice machines come in various types, usually depending on the type and capacity of ice they manage. Generally speaking, an ice maker’s size will be somewhere between a nugget ice maker and a sizeable undercounter model that weighs over 100 pounds. However, the problems we are going to talk about are typical for almost every ice maker type out there, so they usually apply anywhere.
Before you go all out into exploring the insides of your ice machine, we strongly advise being careful not to void the warranty. Different models come with different warranty policies and coverages, and for that reason alone, we will talk about the safest tips, tricks, and fixes you can perform at home.
Before we continue, it would be best to remind ourselves how an ice machine works, without getting way too technical, of course.
The engineering behind fast freezing technology is all about controlling pressure, even though we need the temperature to drop for the ice to appear. Regular freezers need at least a couple of hours to make a batch of ice out of a mold, while an average ice machine takes about 10 to 15 minutes. This is all thanks to said pressure mechanism.
The machine uses water out of a water pipe or a reservoir places the water into a mold and quickly freezes using the mentioned feat of engineering. To get the freshly made ice cubes out of the mold, and into the ice bucket, the ice maker uses higher heat. After that, the cubes fall into the bucket automatically, and you can use the ice.
As you can see, this process is not as simple as the push of a button, and it is hidden under the hull of the ice maker’s body. Every extra step it takes can be a potential problem. That is why it is essential to know, at least vaguely, how these machines work.
In the following section, we are going to divide each type of problem into three parts: problem, possible source, and potential solutions. Also, keep in mind that the order of the issues we list doesn’t imply its urgency or seriousness.
How To Fix Ice Makers
1. Ice Cubes Are Cloudier Than Usual
1.1 Problem description
You turned on the ice maker, waited for it to finish, and finally, the product is disappointing. The ice basket is full of cloudy or “muddy” ice, which is aesthetically not that pleasing. Sometimes the ice even appears to be entirely white.
1.2 Possible Problem Source
- Filthy water inside the reservoir
- The water has been recycled from ice that melted in the basket (some models have that feature)
1.3 Potential Solution
Most likely, the problem is dirt that got stuck in the freezing cycle. Having dirty water coming out of the water pipe is possible, but the chances are that the reservoir water stuck around for too long. What you need to do is completely drain the water out of the ice machine and try with another batch of ice. If the problem persists, it is time for a cleaning session. Often time, dirt can accumulate into larger pieces that get stuck on some part of the water injections system inside the ice machine.
Dirt takes us to the next ordinary issue.
2. Ice Cubes Are Starting To Smell And Taste Weird
2.1 Problem description
No matter if you use the ice for chewing, drinks or sweets, you started to notice that it has a specific stale flavor. This taste is usually followed by a weird, almost moldy, smell.
2.2 Possible Problem Source
- Dirty or low-quality water source
- Ice maker parts got filthy from the inside
- Recycling went on for more than two cycles
This issue may be the most relevant, and yes, you’ve guessed it: it is filth. When ice cubes start tasting funny, it is due to the dirt accumulated in one or more of the core parts inside the ice machine.
2.3 Potential Solution
Nothing beats a good old cleaning session. The golden rule, especially for kitchen appliances, is “the more you use it, the more you clean it,” so it would be best to clean it once every ten days if you use your ice machine daily.
Mostly, depending on the degree of filth gathered, you can try multiple different cleaning methods. From least to most intrusive:
- White vinegar and lemon juice cleaning solution – it is homemade and pretty mild, with little to no consequences for you, or the machine. Vinegar diluted in a water cup is doing the cleaning, while the lemon (or lime) is giving it a fresh smell without raising the acidity any further.
- Bleach with water – use this solution only when the bad smells are more noticeable, and when you can see all the dirt inside the ice machine
- Store grade ice machine cleaning agent – some manufacturers make their cleaning agents, which are usually stronger than typical homemade solutions. Just keep in mind that you need to use them exactly as intended, so read the labels carefully and follow as instructed.
Because you need to clean the ice maker inside and out, it is always recommended to let the machine to make some ice using the dissolved cleaning solution, and a batch or two with water afterward. Make sure to throw away the ice made this way.
The best way to check if the cleaning went well is to taste the ice after a few discarded batches. If it still tastes weird, repeat the process, but this time using a stronger method (cleaning solution).
3. Ice Not Falling Into The Ice Basket
3.1 Problem Description
You heat the ice maker doing its magic, and you hear the parts moving inside, but the ice basket is empty, and ice is not ejecting into it. Maybe a small number of ice cubes was there, but that’s it. However, when you open the hull of the ice machine, you see that the ice is there after all, but it did not get to fall into the ice basket.
3.2 Possible Problem Source
- Broken or stuck heating mechanism
- Broken or stuck ejecting mechanism
- Stuck security doors that separate the ice making part from the ice bin, if the ice maker has any.
3.3 Potential Solution
This situation might be a more severe problem than the common ones, so if you decide to engage in opening the ice maker, do it with utmost caution. Also, keep the warranty in mind, and do not step over any boundaries.
Ice machines use small heaters beneath the molds to heat them just enough so they can fall out. If this mechanism gets broken, everything stops. Sometimes, if the problem persists, due to the temperature difference, the ice machine can get frozen from the inside, thus causing severe damage to the device.
Additionally, the ejecting mechanism always follows the said heating system, so if it fails, again, everything stops. The best thing to do in this case is to check if there are any loose or broken metal/electrical parts and call a professional maintenance specialist. Fails like these are not to be treated lightly, because usually there is electricity involved, and you know what they say about mixing electricity and water (or ice in this case).
4. The Ice Keeps Ejecting Even After The Ice Basket Is Full
4.1 Problem Description
Well, this is not as harmful as much, and it is a nuisance to handle. The basket gets full from previous ice batches, but the ice machine doesn’t stop producing, and it quickly starts overflowing with fresh ice. Or, if your ice maker has a timer, and a dedicated time when to stop, it continues making more and more.
4.2 Possible Problem Source
- Most likely the sensor is worn out, or maybe got disconnected/broken
4.3 Potential Solution
If you are getting tired of scooping up ice from the kitchen floor, it is time to check the sensor. This sensor is there to tell the machine when to stop making new ice, and it can break sometimes. If this is the case, you may not need to call a handyman or to return the device.
Instead, contact the manufacturer and check if there is a licensed replacement part vendor nearby. Replacing the sensor is usually an easy task, and if that’s not the case, always call a professional who can do it for you.
However, if you do not want to wait for the repairman to come, and you need fresh ice, you can always use your ice maker and stop it manually, either by turning it off or in the absence of buttons, unplugging it from the wall outlet. This way you can take the “sensor role” onto yourself, until the new sensor comes, of course.
5. Water Leaks Appeared Around The Ice Machine
5.1 Problem Description
Naturally, due to the nature of ice, water drops can appear around the ice maker. But, if you are sure that you did not spill any water, or leave any ice to melt around the machine, you may have a leaking pipe problem.
5.2 Possible Problem Source
- Leaking inlet pipe
- Leaking inner tubes of the ice machine
5.3 Potential Solution
In most cases, leaking water can occur due to two main reasons: inlet pipe fault or internal mechanism tube leak. The first one is less dangerous, and it is fixed easier than the second, more intricate, problem.
Unplug the ice machine and get rid off as much water as you can from the inside and the outside. After the ice maker is dry, pay close attention to see where the leak is coming from. If you are using a larger model that needs its a water pipe inlet, take a closer look at that pipe, and the valve which connects it to the ice machine. If you see any leakage, get a new one and replace it.
However, if you open the top of the ice machine, and see that the leakage originates from the smaller intricate tubes which transfer water through the system, you may have a bigger problem on your hands. If you can, patch the hole with some duct tape, and call a professional. They will always know how to approach and replace this fine tubing.
6. Something Leaks, But It Is Not Water
6.1 Problem Description
The chances are that you are using an ice machine which uses cooling agents to achieve low temperatures to freeze water and turn them into ice cubes. If you have noticed a small puddle next to the ice maker, and you can see or smell that it is not water, you have a bigger problem than the water leaking can be. This substance is oily, but the good thing is the fact that there is not a lot of it inside.
6.2 Possible Problem Source
- Refrigerating coolant leaked due to inner damage of the unit
- Transfer tubes broke inside the ice maker
6.3 Potential Solution
Some refrigerants can even be dangerous, so the safest bet is to turn off the ice maker and get rid of the ice already made. Most likely, you will not be able to do anything about this issue without violating the rules of the warranty policy. It would be best to call a technician that can diagnose the source of the leakage, and propose an adequate repair method.
7. Ice Cubes Come Out In Strange Shapes
7.1 Problem Description
No matter if you are using an ice machine that makes clear solid ice(you can check our clear ice maker reviews), or you are using one that delivers sonic nugget cubes, they should always come regularly shaped. However, sometimes that is not the case and the ice cubes that fall into the ice basket change in shape and size without you changing the program of the ice maker.
This issue can be especially problematic for people who rely on the aesthetic side of ice cubes, like cocktail enthusiasts or professional bartenders and baristas.
7.2 Possible Problem Source
- Water reservoir valve partially clogged
- Water hose is not providing enough or too much pressure
- Ice cutting mechanism fails
7.3 Potential Solutions
Right before it turns into ice, the water gets into the molds in the core of the ice machine. Almost every ice maker out there is programmed to take the same amount of water for every batch to be equal in size and shape. When that water becomes unavailable (or it comes in more massive amounts), the size and shape of the cube change, and there are some things you can do to check and fix this issue.
Firstly, check the inlet pipe, if your ice maker uses one that is. Unplug the machine, and disconnect the inlet water pipe. Double check if the valve is clean, and if the water coming out of the pipe is within normal pressure limits. If not, all you have to do is adjust it, and the ice cubes should go back to normal.
Another possible solution, for portable and countertop ice makers that use water reservoirs, is removing the reservoirs (if possible) and giving them a thorough cleaning. Sometimes, dirt and sediment from reservoir water can clog the path to the freezing chamber, thus changing the size and shape of the ice cubes.
Lastly, the problem can be in the ice cutting mechanism. Some models utilize hot wires to cut larger ice into smaller ice cubes. If you suspect that this might be the issue, open up the ice maker and look for loose wires and broken parts around the cutting mechanism. If you find any suspicious parts or anything out of place, contact a licensed technician and get it repaired by a professional.
And one more thing. Sometimes people change the setting of the ice machine to make other types of cubes by accident. Reset the control panel and see if the problem was a small human error.
8. Ice Maker Is Not Working
8.1 Problem Description
You have set the program, let the water in, and pressed start. But nothing seems to be happening. Or the ice machine doesn’t work at all. There are many reasons why this may be occurring, but these malfunctions are either the lightest or the heaviest.
8.2 Possible Problem Source
- A faulty power source (the wall socket is not giving power)
- The power cable is not plugged in properly
- There is no water input in the ice maker
- The ice basket is full, and the sensor prevents ice production
8.3 Potential Solutions
The best possible solution to a problem like this is resetting. And by restarting, we mean emptying the device, disconnecting the electric power and the water inlet, and putting everything together again. People tend to miss a step here and there, and these machines will not operate in that case, for safety reasons, of course. Check everything, from power to water, and see where the malfunction source is. The chances are that it will turn out to be one of the problems we talked about in the sections above.
Ice makers are not that delicate, and the issues that occur are usually solved quickly. Even though these machines are simple, the mechanism inside can be quite delicate and are not to be messed with. Any type of appliance that deals with both electricity and water at the same time must not be underrated! Ice machines are not cheap investments, and learning how to diagnose a malfunction and when to call a pro is vital for both safety and convenience reasons.
So, as long as you keep things on the safe side, and are not voiding the warranty, feel free to try and repair the smaller issues. After all, we guarantee you that, after you manage to fix it on your own, you will feel way cooler!