If You Turn Off Your Main Water When You Go Away, Should You Also Turn Off the Ice Maker?

So, you’ve got a fancy new refrigerator with an ice maker, and a lovely holiday booked… times are good!

The bags are packed, you had one last night of icy homemade cocktails with the fridge, and now you’re ready to hit the road, but just before you walk out the door, something occurs to you — Is it a good idea to disable the ice maker before going away?

At first, you think it’s probably not a big deal, after all, the ice maker can only make ice because the fridge is connected to your water supply, and you’ve turned the water off at the mains to prevent any leaks in your absence.

But you just can’t shake the feeling that leaving your new ice maker on might be a bad idea.

Well, your concerns are not misplaced.

Most ice machine manufacturers do suggest that whenever the water supply is being switched off for a significant period, that the ice machine hooked up to the supply should also be disabled.

Let’s discuss why this is the case, and how it can be done.

Why Should You Turn Off Your Ice Maker Before Going Away?

There are a few reasons why it’s a good idea to turn your ice maker off before you head out on vacation, even if you’ve already turned the water off at the mains.

Saving Energy

Did you know that roughly 30% of your fridge’s energy draw goes towards keeping your ice bucket topped up with those refreshing frosty cubes? It’s pretty power-hungry for a one-trick-pony appliance, huh?

The reason is that modern ice makers are actually quite a bit more complex than we perhaps realize.

To us, an ice maker simply takes what the fridge is already doing and drops the temperature a few degrees, but there are other, lesser-known stages of the ice cycle that require a lot more energy.

For example, have you ever wondered how the ice doesn’t just stick in place when it’s made?

Well, it’s not luck that sees each perfectly formed cube slide seamlessly from the maker into the bucket beneath… It’s a heating element.

Yep, believe it or not, there’s a heating element in your ice maker. It seems counterintuitive, I know, but it’s the truth.

The element sits beneath the ice tray, and once the ice is sufficiently cube-shaped and solid, it kicks into action, melting a very thin layer of the ice, causing it to cascade from the tray, into the ice bucket.

As you’re probably aware, heaters are huge energy drains, and even though this one is only tiny, over time, it still consumes quite a lot of power.

What’s more, your ice maker isn’t just responsible for making the ice, it also has to ensure that it stays ice, and to do so, it must circulate cold air through the bucket, especially if it sits inside the fresh food compartment of the fridge where temperatures are a lot warmer.

It’s an essential part of the ice-making process, but it does use quite a bit of power, so if you’re not going to be around for a while, turn it off, as you’ll save a few pennies on your energy bill, and you’ll be doing the planet a favor.

Protecting Components

With fancy optical sensors and mechanical switches, modern ice makers may be intelligent enough to recognize when the bucket is full and that it’s time to stop making ice, but they don’t have as firm a grasp on what to do when their water supply is shut off.

All your ice maker knows is that the ice bucket is empty, and if the ice bucket is empty, well, then it’s time to get to work.

Thus begins an endless, ghostly ice cycle, with no water feeding through to the system and no ice falling into the bucket.

Not only does this waste a lot of energy, but it’s really not good for the components of the ice maker.

They’re just not designed for this kind of perpetual labor, and it will wear them out if they’re left to their own devices for an extended period of time.

In fact, whether you’re going on vacation or not, if you don’t plan on using your ice maker for a while, it’s always best to turn it off and give it some respite.

This will extend its service life and ensure it’s ready to serve you up all the cold cubes you need as and when you need them.

How To Turn Off Your Ice Maker

Okay, so there are thousands of different ice makers out there, and I have no way of knowing which is yours, so this is going to be more of a general guide.

If the following steps don’t seem to apply to your ice maker, I recommend looking for specific instructions in your user manual.

Ice maker on/off functions usually fall into one of three main categories.

There are those controlled by a mechanical feeler arm, those with a simple on/off toggle or slide switch, and some that you can control via a touchpad or LCD.

How To Turn Off An Ice Maker With A Mechanical Feeler Arm

If your ice maker has an auto-shutoff function controlled by a mechanical feeler arm, usually, all you have to do to shut it off is raise the arm until it clicks into place.

The arm is connected to a switch within the enclosure of the ice machine, and as you lift the bar, the switch is engaged, halting the ice cycle.

If possible, I’d also recommend turning the water supply valve of your ice maker off manually, just to make sure no water finds its way into the system.

Turning your ice maker back on after your vacation is as easy as flipping the bar back down again.

How To Turn Off An Electrical Ice Maker

To turn off an electrical ice maker, you should be on the hunt for either a standard toggle switch or a slide switch.

They’re usually situated on the front or side of an ice maker, granting easy access in situations just like this; however, some do make you work a little harder.

Depending on the layout of your ice maker, you may have to remove the ice bucket to reveal the on/off switch. Some models will probably require the removal of the top freezer shelf as well.

How To Turn Off An Ice Maker With An LCD Or Alternative Touchpad

Should you have the luxury of an LCD ice maker control system on the front of your refrigerator, simply follow the onscreen instructions to turn it off.

Other high-end refrigerators use touchpads as a control hub instead of an LCD.

In most instances, all you have to do to turn them off is press the section labeled “Ice” or “Ice Maker”.

If one-touch doesn’t seem to toggle the ice maker on and off, try pressing your finger to the touchpad and holding it there for 3 to 5 seconds.

You should then see some form of indication that the ice maker has been switched off.

Summing Up

As a general rule of thumb, you should always turn your ice maker off before going away, or even if you just don’t think you’ll use it for a while.

Turning your water off at the mains is a good start, but if you leave your ice maker on, it will continue to try and make ice, which will eventually wear out the mechanisms.

Switch it off before you head out, and you can enjoy your holiday knowing that when you return, your ice maker will be rested up and ready to recreate the fancy new cocktails you’ve been drinking on the beach!