Come Summer, Winter, Spring, or Fall, no one wants to be without ice cubes.
Refrigerators come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some are equipped with freezers and some are not. Most models come with ice makers, but some do not. Ice makers vary from one model to another but operate on similar principles. They all need water and some way to get the water to the ice maker. And then some way to tell the ice maker to stop making ice when the bucket is full.
But what happens when your ice maker decides to stop working properly? Only a few things could occur that should signal a consumer that something is wrong. Such things as smaller cubes, holey cubes, mushy cubes, too many cubes, or no ice cubes at all.
In a moment, we’re going to explore the mechanics of how to repair an ice maker that is not producing ice cubes. Before we do, though, let’s take a look at what makes an ice maker tick.
How Does an Ice Maker Work
Three requirements are necessary in order for an ice maker to work correctly.
- The amount of incoming voltage
- Water supply
If there is not enough power or water or the temperature setting is too warm, the ice maker will not produce ice cubes.
During the ice making process, ice makers require 120 volts of alternating current (VAC). This power functions to fill the ice tray with water and once the ice is ready, release it into a storage bin.
Located on the rear of your refrigerator is something called a water inlet valve. A hose connects the valve with your home water supply. There must be 20-120 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure in order for the water to reach its destination without freezing up on the way.
The best temperature for producing ice cubes is zero degrees Fahrenheit or lower. If your freezer is set any higher, mushy cubes will be the result.
These three elements, power, water, and temperature, are all necessary for your ice maker to make ice cubes. When the correct temperature is reached, a charge of voltage signals the water inlet valve to open allowing water to flow into the ice maker tray where the water begins its freezing process.
When the ice maker detects that the cubes are frozen, the cubes are ejected into a storage bin where you grin and grab ice for your favorite summer or whenever beverages.
After the cubes eject, the ice maker refills with water and the cycle repeats until the storage bin is full.
How does the ice maker know when the bin is full so it can stop making cubes? You will notice that your ice maker is equipped with a metal bar that swivels up and down and is suspended above the storage bin. As the ice bin fills the bar raises until it reaches a predetermined point where it signals the ice machine to stop making cubes.
- Ice cubes are too small or hollow
- No ice cubes
If the cubes are small or hollow that should tell us that there is not enough water pressure feeding the water inlet valve or the water inlet valve is defective. Is there some way to test this?
How to Troubleshoot the Water Pressure
- Shut off the water supply
- Disconnect the water supply line that connects to the water inlet valve
- Hold the line over a bucket and turn the water back on
Is there a strong jet-like stream shooting into the bucket? Or is the pressure weak? If the flow of water is strong then you will need to replace the water inlet valve.
If the flow is weak, that should tell us that there is something wrong with the water line or the water supply valve.
It is recommended to replace the inlet valve and not attempt to clean it. If you attempt to clean and reuse the same inlet valve, in a few months time, you will be reviewing this or another article on how to repair an ice maker not making ice cubes. We don’t want you to go that route. We want you to fix it right the first time!
How to Troubleshoot a Clogged Fill Tube
The fill tube is simply the tube that connects to the water inlet valve and travels in some engineer designed pathway where it finally connects to the ice maker. Sometimes this tube can get clogged with ice. Here’s what you need to do to check.
- Inspect the ice maker tray to see if there is any water or ice present
- If no ice or water is found, this would indicate weak water pressure and no doubt the fill tube is clogged with ice.
Think about this for a moment. If the water pressure is so low that the flow of water is but a trickle and the temperature of your freezer is zero, it has no chance of ever making the ice tray.
- Disconnect the fill tube from its incoming location
- Is there ice present?
- Use a hairdryer to melt the ice
- If the problem rests with the water pressure not being high enough, your water supply valve needs to be replaced
So far, we have discussed how low water pressure could influence the production of ice cubes. In the case of adequate water pressure (20-120 PSI), we discussed how a bad water inlet valve could affect the ice maker.
It may be that the freezer temperature is set too high (zero is optimal) to produce solid, clear, refreshing ice cubes. In which case it would take days, weeks, years or maybe forever to see another ice cube. If that is the problem, a simple adjustment on the control would resolve that issue.
When Should the Ice Maker Be Replaced
If the freezer temperature is set at zero or below and all other troubleshooting tests have been accomplished, then it may be time to replace the ice maker assembly.