Ice maker on the fritz? Icebox on the rocks?

If your ice maker is not working, try these DIY steps to fix the freeze.

Key tips to remember

  • Find your manual (hard copy or online)
  • Check lines, filters and valves
  • Make sure the fridge and ice maker are level
  • Check the thermostat and control arm
  • Don’t leave ice undisturbed for long
DIY

Is your ice maker not making ice? Before you google “appliances repair” and start vetting expensive professionals, read our handy guide to sorting out your ice-cube conundrum solo.

Sometimes the ice maker has simply been turned off, and turning it back on again at the source is all you need to do. Other times, a quick fix might be in order, but before you start investigating any other possibilities, it’s a good idea to unplug the fridge and turn off the water-supply line to the ice maker. 

Luckily, ice makers are not complex and consist of little more than a water line that feeds into the system, a mold used to create a certain shape of ice, a bin for ice collection and a few related moving parts. Still, whether you have a countertop ice maker or a more common, fridge-based model, no ice maker is infallible. Repair services are not free, so learning a few DIY techniques and instructions on how to fix common issues can be a big help.

Water lines and inlet valves

Is your ice maker not getting water? One common ice-maker issue is a malfunction in the water line. First, ensure that there’s a direct connection between the water line and the ice maker, and that the inlet valve is turned on and in the open position, without any kinks, breaks, brackets or fasteners that could obstruct water flow. A clog in the line can result in stinky ice or no ice at all. If your water line has cracked, or a seal or valve has been broken, your water might be leaking out somewhere instead of being transformed into ice. Read more about leaks below. 

If ice is still being made but not as much or as well, your line may be starting to freeze, which can be alleviated with a hair dryer used only above the water source or a turkey baster filled with hot water applied to this same portion of the line. Read more about freezing below. 

Another common area for issues is the inlet valve, which we mentioned earlier. Sometimes this valve needs to be replaced as well. Typically located behind the refrigerator, a valve can also become clogged, and your guide to replacing it can be found by consulting your manual.

Water filters

Is your ice maker clogged? A filter clog is not an uncommon issue, and sometimes merely taking it out and then reinstalling it can loosen a blockage. Then again, if your filter is older than six months or so, it might be time for a new one. It’s easy to forget your ice maker even has a filter, and as a result, many of us go for years without noticing our slightly less tasty ice or the slightly smaller cubes resulting from a slowly building clog within our ice maker’s water filter. As the filter accumulates particulates over time, it allows less water to pass through, eventually resulting in a clog. Consult your manual to change the filter.

Control arms

Designed to automatically pause ice production when your receiving bin is full, a control arm can easily be bumped into an unintended position or even broken off when thirsty guests rummage their way through your freezer. If your ice maker has a control arm, make sure it’s not broken and then check to see if it’s in position to allow ice-making to proceed. If the control arm is down and in the “on” position for ice production and there is ice in the mold, there could be an electrical, motor or gearbox issue, which is best addressed by a service professional.

Thermostats

Another common culprit for ice-maker issues is your fridge thermostat, which can be set too cold or too warm, impeding ice production either way. Usually located inside the refrigerator portion of a typical refrigerator-freezer combo unit, the thermostat might even have a single temperature setting that impacts both portions, though newer units feature separate settings for each. Again, your manufacturer’s manual is your friend and the best place to look for recommended thermostat settings for optimal results. If you can’t find your manual at home, you should be able to locate it online. Oftentimes, perfect ice is just a temperature adjustment and a short wait away.

Leveling and leaks

You might be surprised to learn that if your fridge isn’t level, or even if it is and your ice maker isn’t, your ice-making capabilities could be impeded. If you measure the lower level of your fridge with a typical bubble level and find that the fridge itself isn’t level, adjust the corners or add shims to make it so. When you finish that, use the same method on the ice-maker unit within the refrigerator to ensure that it too is level. This will prevent issues with the mold and ejector assembly. While you’re in there, tighten any loose mounting brackets or screws and adjust any bent pieces. If you’ve taken these leveling steps and adjustments, and ice is still being produced but you notice leaks either inside or outside the fridge, double-check the water line and ensure that the fill cup is aligned with the water funnel.

Cube size

If you notice fluctuations in the size of your ice cubes, crescents, nuggets, blocks, spheres or whatever shape you’re accustomed to seeing produced in your ice maker, you probably need to find the adjustment dial and turn it up or down a little. Sometimes requiring a screwdriver for adjustment and commonly found toward the front of the ice-maker unit and under the cover, the adjustment dial will feature plus and minus symbols, indicating whether you’re dialing the size of the ice up or down. Consult your manual for specifics.

Notes on the deep freeze

After looking into all our suggestions, is your ice maker not dispensing ice, or is the ice coming out misshapen or fuzzy? You could have frozen pieces stuck in the ice mold, impeding new ice production. If you turn off the ice maker and pour warm water over the stuck parts, you should be able to loosen up things. Clean out all the leftover pieces, turn the ice maker back on, and newer, better ice should be on its way. Your ejector assembly could also be frozen in place. If you’re not able to correct this with the warm water, you might need to replace this part. Finally, keep your ice moving around often with a scoop. If you let it sit around undisturbed for long, it can build up clumps that lead to problems. If you’re not using ice that much, turn off the ice maker.

After reading this and doing a little of your own DIY troubleshooting, we hope you’re not still having issues with an ice maker not working. If you liked this post, you might enjoy another on refrigerator maintenance 101 or one about more general appliance repair or replacement. If you’re expanding your DIY skills, you may also want to check out our article on preventing maintenance problems for appliances that break the most. Until next time, thanks for visiting us, and good luck on your DIY home-maintenance journey!


The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.
 

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