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Ice Maker Troubleshooting – 10 Possible Problems & Solutions

Ice Maker Troubleshooting
Written by Robert Huisman

It surely is the coolest idea ever- an ice-making machine. In 1850, Dr. John Gorrie, a physician by profession, amazed his guests on an occasion with ice made from refrigeration. In 1748, William Cullen demonstrated the concept of refrigeration at a University in Glasgow. Oliver Evans, an American designed a vapor based refrigerating machine in 1805, though he never actually built it. Finally, in 1834, Jacob Perkins came up with the compressor.

There is little that can replace the convenience of clean, perfectly shaped ice on-demand. So if something goes awry with your ice maker, it is not a question of repair; it is of necessity. For this reason, we’ve put together this article that will aid you in ice maker troubleshooting.

How Does an Ice Machine Work

An ice maker can be a standalone appliance or it can be inbuilt in your refrigerator. For the sake of clarity, here in this article, an ice maker refers to the refrigerator appliance.

This section is important as knowing the working of an ice maker precedes troubleshooting. This gives you a better picture of what might be wrong and thereby get an idea of how to fix an ice maker.

The water supply is run in via a small ¼ inch pipe from the fridge that is routed through a filter. This supply line then leads to a fill valve located in the fridge. The icemakers’ thermostat controls the water fill valve.

This valve then directs the water via the fill tube that goes through the assembly consisting of the ice maker that is mechanized. The ice mold is part of this assembly. The water gets frozen here. Once frozen, the water supply is shut off by the thermostat by means of a solenoid. Subsequently, a heater is turned on so that that the cubes are warmed slightly. The ice cubes are easily released from the mold.

An ice maker motor now turns on which operates the arm that ejects the ice. This arm empties the ice mold and pushes the cubes into the collection bin. Subsequently, the fill valve comes on for about 10 seconds, enough to fill the mold. The cycle starts all over again. Once the collection container is filled, the bail wire is lifted cutting off the process until it is reset by the falling level of the ice as the ice cubes are consumed.

Ice Maker Troubleshooting – Common Problems and Solutions

1. Ice is discolored

This is usually due to the presence of contaminants in the water. Sometimes the ice looks discolored which happens when the water is frozen at one go like in a mold. High-end ice makers and standalone ice machines freeze the water in layers that render white ice. Check the following:

  • Test the water inlet valve
  • The supply line should be flushed
  • Clean the ice mold tray and the collection bin
  • Install a supply line filter if your refrigerator does not have one already

2. Makes no ice

  • The bail wire cuts off the ice maker when locked in the upper position.
  • A faulty tap valve could be the mischief-maker. It is a small valve that connects the water supply to the ice maker’s water supply. The inlet valve and the tap valve may need replacement if proved faulty.
    The best remedy for this is to purchase a connection kit for an ice maker and do the job yourself.
  • The solenoid valve is an important component of the assembly. The solenoid interjects the water line at the bottom or back of the refrigerator and onwards to the ice maker. There can be two possibilities- a defective solenoid or one not receiving power.
    Check that the bail wire is free.
  • Check if the delivery line is supplying water. There is no ice being made by the ice maker but you can see the arm swinging in action accompanied by a 10-second buzz means the water valve is demanding water which is not being supplied. This indicates the solenoid and valve probably are alright; the trouble is with the water supply.
    The water supply line beneath or behind the refrigerator may be kinked or otherwise obstructed.
    First, unplug the refrigerator. A sediment screen is housed inside the solenoid. This screen is removable. Clean and flush it with water. At the same time examine diaphragms and seals are intact. If this does not clear the issue replace the solenoid.

3. Ice cubes too small or large, or not enough ice

If the crescents of the ice are too large or, they are small without any clog in the supply line, the ice maker may need some readjustments.

a) Here we need to fill the mold to its optimum level only. So how much water is needed each cycle to fill the mold is our aim.

b) Remove the cover of the ice maker. It’s a white plate on the foremost part of the ice maker assembly and comes off easily. It may prove stubborn sometimes; just use a flat head screwdriver to pry it off from the housing.

c) Under the cover, you will see a spring and screw assembly along with a plus(+) and minus(-) indication. This controls every measure of water to fill the mold. Turning the screw towards (+) increases the dose and the opposite decreases it.

4. Ice will not eject

If the ice maker produces ice but fails to eject it properly, the problem is either a mechanical one or with the motor assembly inside. Try these steps for rectification:

a) When working with other stuff inside the freezer, it is common to accidentally push the control arm to the upward position. This halts ice production. Reposition the control arm to its correct position.

b) If you observe that the arm is positioned correctly in the down (on), with the mold full of ice, the issue is likely with the gearbox, electric connection, or motor. Proceed as under;

    • i. First, ensure that electrical connections are in order.
    • ii. Move the fridge out, disconnect water supply, and turn off the power.
    • iii. There is a release plug located on the rear wall of the freezer. Unship it and replug it firmly making sure it is connected fully

c) Add a little water to the mold to manually remove all ice. Allow it to sit for a couple of minutes and you can easily remove the ice.

d) Restore power. Raise the control arm up. It is now ‘off’.

e) Open the water supply with the control arm now in the ‘on’ position. Wait for 10 seconds. The solenoid should engage. The mold will fill up with water.

f) Do wait for three hours till ice formation is complete. If ice is still not ejecting automatically, you may have to consider replacing the gearbox or motor.

5. Makes too much ice or will not shut off

  • The bail wire should be lifted up.
  • If the problem persists, you need to consider replacing the ice maker along with the valve. You can have it repaired but the better option is to replace it. You can do the repairs yourself and this is how:
    • a) Turn off the refrigerator.
    • b) Locate the fill tube. It is a white rubber-like hose that supplies water to the ice maker. Slip off the small metal clip from the housing that the fill tube is held by.
    • c) Warm the surrounding mechanism and the hose. You can use a hair drier training the flow on the ice maker to melt off any ice clogging the mechanism. Do be careful here. Sop up any water as electricity and water are a safety hazard. Also, too much hot air directed at the plastic parts can cause them to melt.

6. Ice tastes bad

If you observe that your ice appears contaminated in some way with an out of normal taste, smell or appearance, the cause needs to be investigated and possibilities eliminated in the course of your findings.

a) Mold tray or Ice bin is dirty- Examine both the mold that makes the ice and the collection bin that contains the finished ice. They may be dirty and depositing it on the ice cubes. This is one of the commonest causes.

b) Expired water filter- In this case, unfiltered or even filter contaminated water is the source of your ice. In case the water has little black specs, it could be carbon from the old filter. Any problems with the water are because of improper filtration.

c) Food Odors- Flavors and odors can leach into the ice through the fridge. Open food containers or spoiled food in the freezer or fridge may be the cause. Clean out the fridge and ensure all food is in closed containers.

d) There is also the possibility that the plastic tubes of the water supply line need cleaning. Flush them with water from a new filter.

7. Water line is turned off or clogged

A water supply line is a part of every ice maker. Check that the supply valve is not closed or obstructed by a fastener or bracket.

a) Clogged filters- This is a common problem especially if they are not regularly maintained according to the manufacturers’ instructions. With the help of the users’ manual, locate the filter and check for debris.

b) Broken or clogged water inlet valve- Typically water inlet valves are located behind the refrigerator. First, unplug the refrigerator and shut off the valve’s water supply. After locating the inlet valve, check the filter and the screen if they are choked with debris. Also, check the line supplying the valve for any bulge or see if it is restricted by a bracket.

8. Control Arm Out of Position

The control arm (or bail wire) actives a pause condition when the collection bin is full of ice. It can sometimes happen inadvertently that it has shifted out of position or fallen off in which case the ice maker will remain on pause not making ice. There are a few ways to rectify this condition.

a) If you observe that the arm is locked in the ‘up’ position, firmly press it down. If it still resists, stop trying to force it down. You might end up breaking it.

b) Check the user manual about the pause function and make sure that it is not enabled.

9. Ice Maker Leaking

The ice maker is churning out ice alright. But this is accompanied by water leaking into the freezer or even onto the floor. The possible causes could be;

a) The refrigerator is not level
b) The ice maker unit is not level
c) The water supply line may be kinked, pinched, or otherwise damaged. Check it.
d) The fill cup alignment with the water funnel is out of alignment.
e) Test the inlet switch and the inlet valve

10. Clogged Filter

A water filter that is clogged will restrict the flow of water to the dispenser and also cause the ice maker from working normally. The water filter must be replaced every 6 months to maintain proper water flow and more importantly, the quality of water. The filter is located after the water inlet valve. It can be opened up and cleaned.

Ice Maker Stopped Working? – General Repair Techniques

Appliance repair experts tell us that the life of an ice maker is much less than that of the refrigerator. Leaving replacement aside, let’s see how to repair an ice maker.

  • Find out the saddle valve that’s clamped to your home water supply. Toggle it off/on for a couple of times to get rid of mineral buildup that might be clogging your valve.
  • If this does not work, you need to unplug your refrigerator and then take the icemaker out by unscrewing the retaining screws.
  • Check the water inlet that’s at the rear of the refrigerator is not plugged up with ice. If it is, use a hairdryer to thaw it. This valve is electronically operated. If this valve is defective or if the water pressure is less than 20psi, it will not allow water to pass. If the pressure is sufficient and there is a power supply to the valve, but the ice maker still won’t work, replace the water inlet valve.
  • The ice maker assembly has many components. One of these could be defective. If the water inlet valve, the water line, and the fan are all okay, you may need to change the entire assembly as individual parts are not sold separately.
  • When the refrigerator door is opened, the door switch turns off the ice and water dispenser. Check if the door switch is defective by testing for continuity. If the door switch, when activated, does not have continuity, replace it.
  • The mold thermostat monitors the temperature of the ice. Once the proper temperature is attained, the ice cubes are ejected by the ice maker, and the mold refilled with water. If the thermostat is defective, the ice maker will stop making ice. Check the thermostat for continuity. If it fails the continuity test, replace it.
  • The ice maker switch may be defective. Or, it may have got turned off by mistake. Check that the switch is in the ‘on’ position. If the ice maker is still not working, check the switch for continuity failing which, the switch must be replaced.

Summing it up

An ice maker is a godsend appliance. Having that cool iced tea, beverage or smoothie is so relaxing even in thinking about it. It is there at your fingertips. Other than recreational uses, emergencies can arise where you need lots of ice for treating muscular sprains and suchlike owing to accidents. Do keep in mind though that your ice maker will be as efficient in giving you quality ice as long as you invest a little of your time in a little maintenance such as cleaning/ replacing filters, maintaining the freezer temperature below 10° F, and so on.

FAQs:

1. How do I force my ice maker to cycle?

Ans: Make sure the ice maker switch is on. Pop open the front cover of the ice maker with a flat screwdriver. At the front, you will see a gear. Rotate it clockwise till you hear a click. Replace the cover. Push the control arm or bail wire down. The solenoid will kick in and water will flow into the mold.

2. How do I get my ice maker to make ice faster?

Ans: By adjusting the thermostat, the water will freeze faster. Do not open the door of the ice maker to check if ice is forming as the process dramatically slows down the process by allowing warm air to enter.

3. Can water filter cause ice maker not to work?

Ans: Yes. A clogged filter will not allow water to flow in freely into the ice maker thereby causing it not to work.

4. Why does my ice maker take so long to make ice?

Ans: The water line should not be restricted and have a pressure of at least 20psi. A problem here will result in small cubes. Also, the same result occurs with a partially clogged filter.

About the author

Robert Huisman

Writer

Robert started his career as a food reviewer at Feast magazine in Kansas City. He’s a food lover and studied Nutrition & Dietetics as an academic. He’s been in China and India to explore the diversity of local cuisines and traditional dishes. He shared his experience in a book and published a series of anecdotes and stories in his column. He is also a huge Red Sox fan and hardly misses any match in Major League competition. Here at Meatballly, Robert contributes as a full-time writer and part-time researcher. He shares his exclusive culinary insights through numerous blogs on the site.

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