READ to understand how icemakers work and it may assist you in troubleshooting.
The technological marvel inside our freezers that keeps us from having to crack and refill our plastic icetrays is called an “icemaker.”
The problem is, the “icemaker” does not “make” ice.
The icemaker is just one final component in a series of related parts working in harmony to create and harvest ice-cubes for your iced-drinking pleasure.
The icemaker should not be called “icemaker.”
Read below to find out what all could go wrong during the icemaking process and stop blaming the thing in your freezer that holds the water until it freezes.
1. | Water Supply
Is the icemaker getting water?
A friend of mine replaced an icemaker because it wasn’t making ice. Turns out, his refrigerator wasn’t even getting water. Ice starts, behind your refrigerator, at the water supply box. Make sure water is on and you’ve paid your water bill. Inspect for leaks anytime you interact with the supply box.
Inspect the supply hose attached from your supply box to the water valve on the back of your refrigerator. Check to make sure it’s not pinched behind the refrigerator, isn’t kinked, and hasn’t been rolled over by the wheel. These hoses are often 1/4″. Shop our Stainless and PVC water supply line options in our storefront.
2. | Water Valve
One, if not the most important, ingredient to making ice is water. Many refrigerators are now equipped with convenient in-door water dispensers and even multiple icemakers. The workhorse behind this water wizardry is the refrigerator water valve.
WEEPING 💧 : To quickly elaborate on “weeping” 💧 , this is the same as your kitchen faucet dripping. But, imagine that drip inside your refrigerator’s water lines, pushing water INTO your icemaker’s tray. “Weeping” valves can hide under the radar for a while. They’ll function properly most of the time. But, drip, drip, drip…until a leak…or until it overfills your icemaker, binding up, and eventually burning up the icemaker. So, because the icemaker is broken, you replace the icemaker. But, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip…
Recommended: Replace the water valve and icemaker at the same time. Like tires or shoes.
3. | Bad Optics. Not feeling it.
Icemakers can’t see. They don’t just make ice non-stop, so how do they know when to stop making ice? They may utilize either a sensor or manual arm to sense the ice-level in the ice bin. READ THIS AGAIN. The icemaker may use separate sensors to relay information back to the icemaker before it can continue to cycle.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Because if that board tells the icemaker the ice bin is full, whether it is full or not, the icemaker will not function. It will not proceed. It will not make ice. Because it is being told by the optic sensors that the bin is full. Just because you can see there’s no ice doesn’t mean the optic sensors see the same thing, which means the icemaker could be getting bad information and stops its cycle assuming the bin is full.
4. | Temperature
Ok, we covered the main ingredient, water. Now, how do we get ice? Temperature.
Does the icemaker control the temperature? No.
Can the icemaker make the freezer colder? No.
Just like the ice-level sensors mentioned above, the icemaker AGAIN relies on several other components to not only bring down the temperature low enough to FREEZE the ice (thermostats, compressor, thermistor, cold controls, control boards, defrost components), but then also the sensors or boards to send the signal to the icemaker to give it the “ok-it’s-cold-enough-to-make-ice-signal” to move forward and continue making ice.
Some icemakers are equipped with internal thermostats and may not initiate until it reaches a certain temperature, but then it hands the baton over to many other components during the icemaking process. Icemakers depend on information relayed from thermistors, sensors, thermostats, or control boards. Most ice-making cycles require the freezer to be at or below 10 degrees F.
Unless you’re less than three-feet tall or have a neck like a flamingo, I doubt you see whether or not the dispenser door closes. Ice can get jammed, or the dispenser door could not completely close. This is an example of a dispenser door repair kit. (*compatible with select models) But, this is an example of all the parts responsible for closing and sealing up the dispenser door. The smallest crack allows warm air to enter the freezer, affecting the…temperature.
Air gaps in the dispenser door or refrigerator or freezer door gasket disrupt the temperature inside your freezer. Additionally, as the warm air mixes with the cold air, it creates frost. This frost may begin to buildup on moving parts or affect airflow. Some buildups will lock up your evaporator fan motor as the frost collects around the blades.
Be aware of air gaps. Anything affecting temperature may eventually affect the icemaker.
5. | Switch – Board
We briefly covered this above. Icemakers rely on other components before continuing to cycle. Many components can interrupt, disrupt, or suspend the icemaker’s cycle. The icemaker is doing its job by listening to these components.
Door Switch – Do you have to close the refrigerator door to fill your glass with water from the in-door dispenser? Or have you ever heard the icemaker motor cycling or turning and it pauses when you open the door? I understand you closed the door and you can see it is closed. But, if the switch is faulty, it may be telling the icemaker the door is open. If your model pauses when the door opens, it’s possible the door switch is telling the icemaker the door is open, so it pauses the cycle.
6. | Ice Maker
You’ve checked or replaced everything else? Ok. It’s probably the icemaker.
If you’re positive the water supply is on > water lines are connected > water valve is good > ice-level arm or sensor is good > temperature is 10ish or below > defrost cycle defrosts and cycles properly….
Last resort: Remove the icemaker from the freezer. Let it thaw and reset overnight. The following day, before reinstalling, turn off your refrigerator either by unplugging or turning off the breaker. Once installed, give it 24-48 hours. If it begins to cycle, great. If an underlying issue is present that caused the original issue, be aware it could creep back up in the days or weeks to follow. Like the weeping 💧 drip, drip, drip, drip scenario.
So, how do I figure out what’s bad?
Proper diagnosis and troubleshooting, or contact a service professional. You should never attempt a repair if you are unfamiliar with electrical and water safety and have the proper personal protection equipment.
True story: After ripping apart my refrigerator’s freezer and replacing the icemaker, I woke up the next morning and found one batch of ice. Did I receive a bad icemaker? Or was it a bad diagnosis? Hint: It was the latter.
Despite knowing I should have performed a service test, I still blindly went with what was most obvious. The icemaker that’s not making ice. Had I diagnosed the issue properly, I would’ve saved both time and money.
In my case, I finally stopped long enough to locate the tech specs and ran the refrigerator’s service mode (only to be performed by professional service technicians) to find the Ice Level Sensor Service Test. The test came back “Ice bin – Full”, despite having no ice in the bin. That’s why the icemaker stopped. So, the icemaker wasn’t making ice, but it wasn’t the icemaker not making ice.