Ice machines and chilled water dispensers are becoming increasingly popular both at home and in the workplace where they are used for a variety of purposes. At first glance, the freezing water temperatures used to create ice would suggest that opportunities for bacterial growth would be very limited and so the risks to people using them insignificant. However, this may not always be the case and here we consider if ice machines can spread Legionnaires’ disease.
Ice machines and chilled water dispensers offering ice or cold water do so at temperatures well below the 20-degree threshold for concern. However, each machine contains a mechanical compressor that is used to lower water temperatures. The heat given off by a compressor may be enough to warm the water inside the machine, thereby allowing Legionella bacteria to grow and multiply unseen. The bacteria could then potentially reach levels in the water where it may prove concerning for those drinking it or taking ice from the machine.
A similar scenario could occur if the machine is positioned in a warm spot, i.e. near to a radiator or other source of heat.