Ice Maker Water Lines – What is behind your fridge?

Having an ice maker in your fridge door is one of life’s smallest pleasures. It’s never even realized until you run out of ice one day, or someone forgot to fill the ice tray how convenient built in ice makers really are. Unless you have a restaurant or hotel quality ice basin in your home for some reason, having an ice maker in your fridge is the next best thing. Automatic home ice makers were first introduced in 1953 by the Servel Company.

Ice makers are usually found on the freezer side of a double refrigerator. They create crushed, crescent or cubed ice through metal molds. An electromechanical or electronic timer first opens a solenoid valve (a valve controlled by electric current) for a few seconds, allowing the mold to fill with water from the domestic cold water supply. The timer then closes the valve and lets the ice freeze for about 30 minutes. Then, the timer turns on a low-power electric heating element inside the mold for several seconds, to melt the ice cubes slightly so they will not stick to the mold. Finally, the timer runs a rotating arm that scoops the ice cubes out of the mold and into a bin, and the cycle repeats. If the bin fills with ice, the ice pushes up a wire arm, which shuts off the icemaker until the ice level in the bin goes down again. The user can also lift up the wire arm at any time to stop the production of ice.

When simple home utilities are broken down and explained, like the ice maker – it all seems very impressive. However, there was one piece of the puzzle left out of the aforementioned explanation; the ice maker water line. The ice maker supply line is a small plastic, copper, or stainless steel water line that feeds directly into the ice maker. Water pipes are very susceptible to damage it is important that while installing or once it has been installed it is in a position where it is not being bent or shaped in an awkward position.

Ice maker water lines can often get clogged with mineral build up and deposits. It is important to clean these lines regularly. If you leave you water line with a mineral deposit clogging the flow of water your ice machine will need to work harder, this means it may wear out sooner, it will also create far less ice than if the water line was clean. Not only that but the water going through the water line into the ice machine will soon be ice floating around in your drink. So it’s best to keep those lines free from any bacteria buildup as well. Clogs also create the potential for leaks, which will damage your ice maker and your refrigerator, and most likely the contents within it.

If you have a water filter processing the water in the water line for the ice maker, it is advised that these be changed every 6 months or after 400 gallons of water has been filtered through. If the filter is clogged the ice maker will make fewer and smaller ice cubes. To check if the filter or water line is clogged, place a cup underneath the water dispenser. Filling a measuring cup with a 4 cup volume should take no more than 15 seconds. If it is slow or the water is dispensing in a very thin stream your water line is most likely clogged. Even if you have excellent water quality but low water pressure it is recommended you clean the water line. As previously stated, clogs in the water line will do damage to your ice maker, freezer, fridge and the food within it.

Unclogging your ice maker’s water line, keeping it clean and maintaining water pressure to the ice maker will not only keep your drinks full of ice but also save you money!

Written by Tanya Klien

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