4 Tips To Fix An Ice Maker Which Is Not Working

Ice maker

Feb 14
ice maker

When you have an ice maker not working, it's easy to feel like the technology gods have played a trick on you. Once you get used to simply pressing your glass against a lever and getting ice instantly, it seems a great inconvenience to have to fill, freeze, and then empty an ice tray. If your ice trays have gone MIA, then you are really in trouble. Though you could always improvise an ice container to get some frozen H20, you may have to separate it into cubes using an icepick.

An ice maker not working wastes your time and drains your wallet. This article provides the solutions you need to fix your ice maker quickly and inexpensively. Before you delve into the unexpected chore of dealing with an ice maker not working, quell your frustration by taking a moment to appreciate this modern convenience.

Some History

People lived for many millennia without ice makers or even refrigeration, so getting upset about an ice maker not working probably isn't worth it. Refrigerators didn't come into widespread use until the start of the 20th century and then you had to use ice trays and ice picks. When the ice maker was finally invented, it took away the need to do the manual labor of filling trays and separating cubes. If you use a lot of ice, you appreciate the time savings.

iced tea made from ice maker which suddenly stops working

Before refrigeration, if you lived in a warm climate and wanted ice, you had to have it exported from cold areas or buy it from special ice plants. The cost relative to income was steep, making ice a dream for many in warmer areas. People in equatorial regions often lived their entire lives without even seeing ice.

Considering the inconvenience and expense of getting ice that people used to go through, having an ice maker not working, even if it takes a little time and money to fix, pales in comparison. To fix your ice maker and get back into the modern era, you first need to understand how ice makers work. Then you'll have no trouble understanding why you have an ice maker not working and how to repair it.  

How Ice makers Work

iced drinks made from ice maker which suddenly stops working

Your home icemaker performs the same exact function as an ice tray. It simply automates the process, so you don't have to engage in manual labor. The icemaker mechanically pours water into a mold and extracts it when you push the lever. Icemakers are powered by an electric motor. They also have an electric water valve and an electrical heating unit. These elements are powered by hooking the ice maker to the refrigerator's power circuit through a hole in the refrigerator's back. A plumbing line runs through the hole to provide fresh water.

Home ice makers work in a mechanized cycle. In the first step of this cycle, a timed switch sends an electric signal to the water valve, causing the valve to open. The valve is open for about seven seconds. During this time, water fills the ice mold. You may have heard the water mold filling from time to time. The temperature in the ice mold is cooled below freezing by the refrigerator, so the icemaker contains no cooling mechanism. A built-in thermostat detects when the water has turned to ice.

When the ice is adequately chilled, the thermostat closes a switch. This action sends an electrical current through the heating coil which is located beneath the ice mold. The coil heats the ice enough to loosen the cubes from the tray.

The electrical current also activates the ice maker's motor. The motor spins two gears that activate the shaft which has a series of ejector blades connected to it. These blades scoop the cubes out of the mold. The cubes are deposited in the ice collection bin at the front of the ice maker. Notches at the front of the ice maker separate the cubes when the ejector blades connect.  

Troubleshooting an Ice Maker Not Working

Citrus fruit from from an ice maker which suddenly stops working

Now that you understand how an ice maker works, you can troubleshoot the machine with a sense of why you may have an ice maker not working. Just like with a computer, when you have a basic understanding of how the technology operates, you can identify which parts of the system correspond to specific performance problems. This makes troubleshooting much more efficient, and once you have a decent orientation, it can even be fun to play detective.

The first goal of troubleshooting is to see if you can fix the problem without having to pay for an expensive service call. Even if you have a warranty plan, you may still have to pay a deductible and wait for a technician. Why do that if you can fix the problem yourself? It's also possible to replace the ice maker, but before we get into that, let's see if you have one of the common problems that you can fix yourself.

First, troubleshoot the saddle valve before determining if you need to proceed to the following steps and possibly replace the icemaker. The saddle valve is clamped to the water valve at the back of the refrigerator. Turn the valve on and off several times. This clears any mineral blockage. If the problem persists, follow the solutions detailed below. In many cases, the icemaker needs to be replaced. This can be done by a repair service. You can also complete installation yourself by following the directions below.  

How to Fix the Most Common Problems

Ice cubs from ice maker which suddenly stops working

Ice Not Ejecting

First, check if there is ice in the cube mold. If so, the problem isn't related to the water supply.  A mechanical or electrical reason is the most likely culprit. Often, the electric control arm gets jostled out of position when goods are moved around in the refrigerator. Manually move the arm back into the down (on) position. If this fixes your problem, no service call necessary!

If the control arm is in the down position and you have ice in the mold, the difficulty likely lies in the motor, gearbox, or electrical connection. To check this, first disconnect the refrigerator's power and also the water connection. Disconnect and reconnect the quick release plug, which is located on the freezer's back wall. Then remove the ice from the mold (pouring water in first helps). Restore power and move the control arm to the off and then the on position. Wait 3 to 4 hours and check if the unit is making ice. If so, you're home free.

Not Producing Ice

Ice nuggets from ice maker which suddenly stops working

When ice won't come out or comes in tiny chunks, you likely have a clog. Usually, there is frozen water in the line, or the water filter has clogged. First, check the water line. To do this, cut off the water and use a turkey baster to flush the line with warm water. You can also use a hairdryer or leave the refrigerator unplugged for several hours. This will melt any ice blockage.

If that doesn't work, try replacing the water filter. Water filters are also susceptible to blockages. In fact, this is one of the most common problems. Unfortunately, people often make the mistake of replacing the entire ice maker instead of the filter.

Ice Cubes Are the Wrong Size

If your cubes are too big for your glasses or are tiny chunks that tend to bounce onto the floor, you probably need to adjust the water supply. First, locate the water dosage indicator by removing the ice maker cover and find the plug/spring assembly with a plus/minus indicator. Use a screwdriver to adjust the indicator. More water will get you smaller cubes and less water will slim them down.

Replacing the Ice Maker

Lemon and ice from ice maker which suddenly stops working

Ice makers rarely last as long as the refrigerator. If you've taken the above steps to troubleshoot but the ice maker is still not working, it's time for a new ice maker. Installation is relatively quick, but you will need a 4-in-1 screwdriver and a nut driver. To get started, first locate the model number on the refrigerator door. You can purchase a replacement at a home improvement store or online.

Before removing the old ice maker not working, make sure to unplug the refrigerator and turn off the water. Remove the old ice maker by disconnecting the wiring. To insert the new ice maker, hold it in position and screw it to the refrigerator wall. Next, pull the refrigerator out from the wall. Locate the inlet valve at the bottom of the refrigerator. Disconnect the inlet valve from the water supply. Replace the inlet valve. These valves are usually included with the ice maker.


assorted soda in a glasses processed from ice maker which suddenly stops working

Though they are convenient, ice makers are susceptible to several common types of breakdowns. Before investing the time and energy in buying a new ice maker, make an effort to troubleshoot the ice maker not working. If the ice won't eject, simply resetting the control arm may work, though if the problem repeats itself, you might want to consider a new icemaker. Clogs are one of the most common problems. These can always be fixed by applying warm water to the line or unplugging the refrigerator for a few hours. No need for a replacement!

If the inevitable finally occurs, and you are stuck with an ice maker not working, new icemakers are inexpensive and installation takes less than an hour. Though it costs some money and time, installing a new ice maker is far easier than obtaining ice was in the old days.