Soft Serve: Troubleshooting Hopper Noise

SS: Troubleshooting Hopper Noise

Troubleshooting : Soft Serve :: Hopper Noises


Most Spaceman USA machine models have a hopper agitator installed inside the hopper(s).  The hopper agitator blades agitate the product in the hoppers to prevent ice buildup inside the hopper(s).  The hopper agitator blades can make noise when they start to build up product or ice, or especially if they are run dry (low or no mix in the hopper).  If your hopper agitator blades start to make noise, please follow the troubleshooting steps below.

Warning:  Please be careful not to place your hands or any objects inside the hopper or cylinder when in operation.  Failure to do so may cause severe injury.
Note:  On most Soft Serve machines, the hopper agitator only spins when the machine is calling for hopper cooling.  If your hopper is already pre-chilled, you may need to drain, rinse, and clean your machine prior to performing the below steps.  

Troubleshooting Steps

  1. Tune the machine power OFF.  
    Note: If there are multiple flavors, turn power to both flavors OFF.  The following steps will be performed one side at a time.
    Warning: Do not perform these steps with only water in the machine as the water can freeze up and cause severe damage.  Only perform these steps with the machine fully disassembled or with soft-serve product as instructed below in the machine to prevent over-freezing and damage.
  1. Remove hopper agitator blades from the agitator post. Remove all blades if there are multiple flavors.
  2. Turn the machine power On, and then press FREEZE button to enter FREEZE mode to allow the hopper agitator motor to turn on without blades attached.
    Note:  If your machine already has chilled product, the machine may not call for hopper cooling.  You may have to wait for your product to warm up, or drain, rinse, and clean your machine and perform this step with the machine disassembled. 
      Potential Solution:  If there is no noise, continue with step 4 below.  If there is noise, skip to step 12 below
  1. Press RESET to stop the machine.
  2. Thoroughly clean the agitator  blades, and inspect the  o-rings for damage if present .
    Note:  If your hopper agitator does not have o-rings installed on the inside, Spaceman has upgraded this part to include lubricated o-rings for better performance.  Please see the proper Parts List for your machine to determine the correct updated part number.
  1. Lubricate the inside of the agitator blade using Spaceman High Performance Food Grade Lubrication
  2. Install the agitator blade back into the hopper on the agitator blade post.  Only install one blade at a time.
  3. If there is no liquid inside the hoppers, fill the hoppers with additional product.  Do not use water as water may freeze up and cause severe damage. If your machine is disassembled, you will need to follow steps in the manual to properly lubricate and reassemble your machine before adding product.  
  4. Turn the machine to the WASH mode to allow the hopper agitator motor to turn on.
    Potential Solution:  There should be no noise at this time, if there is noise, please proceed to step 12 to continue troubleshooting.
  1. Press the RESET button to stop the machine.
  2. If your machine is equipped with two flavors, repeat steps 6-10 on the other side of the machine.
  3. With the machine in STOP mode, inspect the inside of the hoppers and determine if the Hopper Agitator blades are hitting anything inside the hopper (such as low mix sensor, air tube, or debris).  
    Potential Solution:  If the noise is coming from the hopper agitator blade striking another object, remove or correct the issue with that object and repeat these troubleshooting steps to verify the noise is gone.  If the noise is coming from inside the machine, proceed to the remaining steps below.
  1. With the machine power OFF, remove the side panels from the machine using appropriate tools.  Most machines have quarter-turn fasteners, and some small countertop machines require a Hex-Wrench.
  2. Turn the machine back on and place in FREEZE mode and observe the hopper agitator motor turning the green hopper agitator belt(s)
  3. Inspect the pulleys and condition of the belt.  The belt movement should be  smooth and the pulleys should be parallel.
    Solution:  Slight squeaking noise from the belt is normal and may come and go as the belt wears.  If the belt has worn out and is making noise constantly, you may need to replace the belt with the correct part number.  If all above steps have been completed and the source of the noise is not the agitator belts, please contact Spaceman Technical Support for further troubleshooting steps.  Please be prepared to provide all steps performed in order for the technician to advise the best next step.

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