Can You Leave a Portable Ice Maker On?

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I’v owned a portable ice maker for years now, and I use it every day. Portable ice makers are a great way of having ice for your friends and family without spending a lot of money. 

I would say that the number one reason I decided to purchase a portable ice maker is because of the price. Even though Portable ice makers don’t cost as much as commercial or undercounter ice makers, you still made the initial investment and want it to last a long time. 

Often, we wonder if portable ice makers can be left on or do you have to turn it off when you’re done making ice. In this article, were going to talk a little about portable ice maker maintenance, and how you can protect your ice maker from going kaput!

Can You Leave a Portable Ice Maker On?


Portable ice makers are designed to run without stopping.

The water reservoir is placed under the ice storage bin for that very reason. When the water from the ice bucket melts, it drips back into the tank to make more ice.

Even though your ice maker is designed to run all the time, it would be best if you didn’t let your ice maker continue to run on low water. This makes the water pump work unnecessary hard. Portable ice makers are designed to stop when the water reservoir is empty, but it’s good practice to make sure that your ice maker has plenty of water.

Turn Off Your Ice Maker on Vacation

Even though portable ice makers are created in a way to make ice continually, it’s also good to shut it off when you go away for an extended time.

ice maker on vacation

If you are going on vacation, unplug the ice maker, clean the inside of the unit, and put it away.

If you are like me, then you bring your ice maker with you. I go to a cottage every year and camp, and one of the reasons we purchased a portable ice maker is because we wanted to bring it with us on vacation. We love making ice for our beverages as we sit by the pool on a hot summer day. 

We also love making all kinds of different ice treats for the kids. I guess what I’m saying is don’t leave the ice maker at home unatennded, continually running through the ice cycle. It’s not good for the unit. 

When You Turn On A Portable Ice Maker After Vacation, Check For Mold

When you come back from vacation, make sure that you check over your portable ice maker before using it again. 

mold on a portable ice maker

Sometimes mold will begin to grow around the cover of the unit. The picture to the right is a picture of our portable ice maker after we have been away for one week.

When I got back, I opened the lid of the ice maker only to see mold growing around the inside. I had to clean out the portable ice maker using a mold killer and rinse it out thoroughly. 

It’s amazing how dirty portable ice makers can get because they are not taking in any clean water. It’s just recycled water. Anytime an ice maker has been sitting to the side, then make sure you give it a good cleaning before you start using it again.

While I have your attention, It’s also good to change the water of your portable ice maker every day.

If you have your portable ice maker beside a sink and can drain the old water, do so and replace it with fresh water. This isn’t just for the good of your unit but for the best tasting ice.

What is That Whining Sound Coming From My Portable Ice Maker?

If your ice maker is always whining, then it’s because it doesn’t have enough water for the pump to draw water to make ice. 

The solution to this problem is to add water.

Whining Sound from Portable Ice Maker

You may hear some whining sounds from your ice maker, and then it may go away for a little bit. This is because your ice maker is getting water from the melting ice.

When the ice melts from the ice bucket, it falls into the water reservoir giving the ice maker enough water to begin the cycle again. It may be whining, because it’s trying to grab (not sure if that’s the best word to use), or draw enough water to begin.

If you hear your ice maker giving a whining sound, then you need to add water as soon as possible. Even though the ice maker is designed to handle such conditions, it’s not best on the water pump.

How to Put Water in a Portable Ice Maker

It’s simple to put water into your portable ice maker.

First, turn off your unit.

Just lift the lid and remove the ice bin. You can sit the ice storage bin to the side .

Next, take some clean water and pour it into the water reservoir. You want to make sure that you use drinkable water in your portable ice maker.

That’s it. You can place the ice bucket back in your unit, and turn it back on.

What Happens When It Fills With Ice? 

Most portable ice makers will automatically stop when they fill up with ice. There are small sensors on either side of the ice bucket, and when something comes between those sensors, the ice maker will stop.

When the ice gets to the place where those sensors are interfered with, then your ice maker will stop, and a light will indicate that you need to empty the ice storage bucket. 

If your ice maker does not stop when the storage bin is full, then it indicates that your sensor has malfunctioned. Sometimes hard water can mess with those sensors, and using some water and vinegar can often fix the issue.

How Often Should I Clean My Portable Ice Maker?

Portable ice makers should be cleaned at least twice a month.

Cleaning a portable ice maker

It’s good to keep an eye on the ice maker to ensure that it’s properly working and that no dirt or grime is building up inside. 

Regular maintenance of twice a month is good for your portable ice maker unless you notice that it needs to be cleaned before this time.

If this is the case, then there is no time like the present. Take some time and read over these two articles. The first one is how to clean a portable ice maker here, and the second is how to tackle mold in your portable ice maker, and you can read that article here.


Portable ice makers are great small appliances for your home and run without much effort. Keeping them clean and filled with water ensures that they run as designed. 

Jerry Wilson

Jerry Wilson

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  1. My ice maker works great but it’s leaking water all over my counter and onto the floor. The refill indicator comes on nearly two hours after I refill it.

    What is the problem with this unit. It’s one where I fill the container and put on the top of the machine.

  2. I work in a retail shop in Arizona; it’s hot in the summer. We just got a new portable ice-maker for the employees at the store. My question is, should I be draining it every evening before closing up for the night? Or is it safe to leave water in there overnight to be made into ice the next day? The front of the shop where it is can get pretty hot; up to about 90 degrees when the A/C is switched off after closing.

    I’d hate to waste the clean water, but if it’s not safe I’d rather drain it every night.

    • Though portable ice makers are designed to run all day and night, it wouldn’t make sense to run the unit when no one is there to use the ice. I’m not sure if I would drain the water out every day, but it’s good to keep fresh water inside the unit for making ice, especially because you’re a business. Stale water produces bad-tasting ice. You could probably change the water every 2 days.

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