Frozen Beverage – Common Errors

Frozen Beverage – Common Errors

Training :: Frozen Beverage :: Common Errors and How to Avoid

Air Tubes

Spaceman only recommends the use of air tubes on a Frozen Beverage machine when producing a milkshake product.   It is not required, or recommended, for slushy-type products such as frozen lemonade, margaritas, daiquiris, etc.

Freeze Ups

Freeze ups lead to issues which prevent you from serving product.  

Warning: In severe freeze-up cases, expensive components can be broken or damaged and cause extensive down-time.
Freeze ups are caused primarily by one of three things (see below for further details): 
  1. Starved Cylinder – Insufficient product entering the cylinder
  2. Product Issues
  3. Improper Cleaning
    Starved Cylinder

Cylinder starvation occurs when the product level in the freezing cylinder is too low.  Usually, this happens one of three ways:  improper priming when first adding product to the machine, running machine in low level or a blockage preventing product from entering the freezing cylinder.

  1. Improper priming :: If the machine was initially frozen with an improper prime level, the product could freeze up at any time during normal operation depending on serving size, brix level, etc.  These freeze ups can occur even when not serving a lot of product.
  2. Low level :: Do not open the dispensing handle and serve product if the product level in the hopper is low.  If the red light or low-level indicator is illuminated, fill the hopper immediately. 
  3. Blockage :: If the cylinder is still starved, and the above two issues are definitely not the issue, you may have a blockage preventing product from the hopper from making its way to the freezing cylinder. 
If a freeze up occurs, power OFF the machine and do not use until product thaws.  Damage may occur. Verify the following:
  1. Hopper is full of product, and not in low-mix
  2. Inlet from hopper to freezing cylinder is clear and clean.  Use brush to clean this area while the motor is off
  3. If using an air tube, check to ensure it is cleaned using a brush and placed with the product inlet hole (on the side of the air tube) towards the bottom.  If you are running a non-milkshake product you can remove the air tube entirely.
  4. Product does not have any particulates which may cause blockage.
  5. Freezing cylinder was properly primed when product was added using the prime plug on the front door.  If necessary clean the machine and follow the Operator manual to properly prime the machine.

Product Issues

Product must be premixed and should be chilled prior to adding to your machine.  You cannot use the hopper and agitators to mix product inside the machine.  This will lead to an improper ratio of products in the freezing cylinder and cause freeze ups.  

All frozen beverage machines require a specific Brix level to freeze product correctly .  See the  FB: Brix Levels article for information on Brix levels and testing Brix.  If you are planning on making your custom product, or mixing your product using a concentrate or powder, you will want to ensure your Brix level (dissolved sugar content) is within the appropriate range.  This will ensure your product freezes correctly in your machine.  Various things can affect the Brix level of your product, including sugar content, alcohol content, other dissolved solids such as flavorings, etc.   For more information, see the  Frozen Beverage - Product Mix Guide

If your Brix Level is too high or too low, or if your brix level varies between batches, you will experience a variety of product quality and machine issues.  As Brix level increases, the freezing temperature of the product decreases.  As the Brix level decreases, the freezing temperature increases.  If the Brix level of your product changes and you do not change your viscosity setting accordingly, you may end up with soft and runny product or a freeze-up.  Therefore, checking the Brix level of every batch is very important.  If you don’t know your Brix level, you may never be able to achieve consistent results out of your machine.

If your bartender or manager is substituting ingredients, changing ingredients or mix ratios in any way, it WILL affect your brix and viscosity and will lead to a freeze up or other issues if not accounted for or done correctly.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Proper cleaning and maintenance of your machine will ensure smooth and consistent operation for many years to come.  It is important to follow the cleaning instructions provided in the operator manual exactly.  More than 50% of maintenance bills, freeze ups, and consistency issues can be prevented by proper cleaning. 

Rinsing the machine nightly with water or sanitizer and then turning off is not a substitution for proper cleaning, is not food-safe, and can be harmful.  Most models include a standby or nighttime refrigeration mode for safe product storage over-night.  If you leave the machine in the off position without fully cleaning and disassembling your machine, you are leaving food contact areas exposed to high temperatures and ambient conditions which will allow bacteria to grow. 

A full cleaning including removing the front discharge door, beater and scraper blades, and rear drive shaft and gasket must be completed according to the manual and video instructions.  When re-assembling the machine after cleaning, proper lubrication will ensure longer life on the rear shell bearing, gears, motors, and belts, as well as the wearable parts.  It will also help to prevent leaking. 

All wearable parts should be replaced quarterly.  Condenser fans should be cleaned at least two times per year and belts should be replaced during that time.  If the condenser fans are clogged up or dirty it will prohibit your machine’s ability to remove heat and freeze product.  This will lead to longer freeze and recovery times, poor product consistency, constant machine running, excess hot air discharged from machine, and high electricity costs.
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