We got one of the famous (or infamous) GE Opal Pellet Ice machines in large part for use in drinks. The pellet ice, sometimes referred to as “Sonic ice” since it is used at the popular fast food chain, is something of a suburban classic. It is great for adding to ice coffee or afternoon iced tea, but it also is an amazing training aid.
Pellet ice is the same stuff that we used to see in athletic training rooms. It makes an amazing ice pack since it conforms so well around knees, ankles, or whatever you are icing. Previously we noted the benefits of using pellet ice when training.
Regardless of the use, the one downside of the ice machine is that it makes noise. This comes in the form of a high pitch whine while the machine is running. After hearing a screeching noise form the GE Opal for a few weeks, we finally broke down and decided to fix the problem.
Is your pellet ice machine making noise too? If so, try these steps to get it working again.
The most cause of the sound is the grinding of the motor that spins the compressor and keeps things cool. Maybe GE used questionable parts, but when we accessed ours there was no oil in the motor gear box. This meant that metal was grinding on metal. To fix this we have to get access to the gear box.
First remove the back panel. There are 8 obvious screws that hold it on.
From there locate the motor and gear box. It is on the left side (when looking at the open back). The black gear box is what you need to add oil or lubricant to. Unfortunately, accessing the screws to pull the fan up and motor shaft out (so you can put lubricant in) requires taking apart most of the rest of the device.
Remove the cover to access side panel and loosen. The top is held on by screws that are hidden under the rubber nubs at the corners. Pry out the nubs and remove the screws behind them.
Once the top is loose you need to pop it off. There are notches on the front that help align the plastic panel, be careful when lifting the lid up as these snap fit, and being rough or twisting off will break them.
After removing the top you have access to the screws that hold on the side panel. Unscrew the three on the side of the machine that has the gear box. You do not need to take off the whole side panel, loosening it, by removing the screws gives you enough access.
With the side panel loose you can now access all the screws that hold down the gear box and fan blade. The hardest one to access may require a wratchet screw screw, and is the one that requires you to take off the side panel. There is one other screw that is accessible directly from the back that also should be loosened. You do not need to remove these screws entirely, loosen them enough to lift the fan blade and gearbox assembly up.
With the gear box screws loosened (one is visible in the below picture), lift up the whole assembly so you can access the assembly with a lubricant bottle.
Add the lubricant to the gear box. You can do this at the top and the bottom. Lifting and shifting the gear box in between will help ensure the lubricant makes it to all the needed spots.
It is unlikely that a little extra lubricant hurts anything, so be liberal in applying it to any portion of the gear box, drive shaft, or motor assembly that looks like it might ever move. The moving parts are what rub and cause sounds, and ultimately the extra sound is what will ruin the machine long term.
Once down you should be able to reassembly everything the way you found it. Make sure all the screws are tight, and try a good cleaning cycle for the machine now that you have it out. The ice machine should be cleaned periodically anyways so might as well. Plug it back in and you should be all set. Enjoy having the peace and quiet back.