Troubleshooting a Refrigerator Ice Maker
Cooling down with a ice-cold lemonade on a hot summer day is easy with a built-in refrigerator ice maker. But, occasionally when ice is requested, the ice maker does not dispense ice. Instead, it may make a grinding or knocking noise and dispense little pieces of ice. Fortunately, ice maker problems are often easy to fix with either a DIY approach or a professional repair service. Then, homeowners can get back to sipping on ice-cold lemonades.
Before exploring the malfunctioning ice maker itself, it's helpful to know the basics of how ice makers work. In most models, the water enters the ice maker through a small valve. The water is directed into an "ice mold," where the temperature is lowered and the water becomes ice cubes. There is a small solenoid that closes the water entry into the ice mold so that the pipe does not freeze. When the ice cubes are set, a heater warms the ice mold. With a little warmth, the ice cubes are easily ejected from the mold and into a holding container or straight into a glass of ice cold lemonade. When the holding container is full, the ice maker shuts off.
The first step in troubleshooting an ice maker that doesn't produce ice is to check that water is entering the system. Homeowners can often diagnose this problem by listening for a buzzing sound that lasts about 10 seconds. Checking the ice mold for ice is another good way to see if water is reaching the first step of the process. If there is no ice, it is possible that the water is not entering due to a kinked line or insufficient water pressure. If it's a new refrigerator, the house may not have enough water pressure for the ice maker. However, if the ice maker was working and then stopped, a kink is more likely because it worked before.
If water is entering the ice maker, it's possible that the ice maker has frozen up or that the motor is not ejecting the ice properly. If the holding container is full, it's more likely that freezing up is the problem. Thawing the refrigerator may repair the ice maker in this case. Repairing the motor that ejects the ice from the ice mold is a little more complex. There are kits on Amazon for repairing it or a professional can quickly take care of it.
On the flip side, some ice makers won't stop making ice. One easy solution to try is moving the bail wire, which is a small wire near the holding container. When the container is full, it should move into the stop position. But sometimes it doesn't. Homeowners can manually adjust the bail wire to the stop position as an easy test. If the problem persists, it may be time to call a professional.
Homeowners can usually troubleshoot the cause of ice maker problems, even if they decide they need a professional to complete the fix.