Why Does My Ice Maker Not Fill With Water?

Ice makers are amazing; there’s no disputing that.

They can add that little something special to an intimate cocktail party with friends, and they bring the chill when you need a cold compress to ease a headache, but they’re not always foolproof.

Ice makers are deceptively complex machines, and as such, there are quite a few things that can go wrong with them, one of which is a failure to draw water from the supply, so that’s what we’re going to be troubleshooting today.

Troubleshooting Water Line Ice Makers

There are two subtypes of water line ice makers. One is the standard refrigerator ice maker, and the other is the under-counter style ice makers you’ll see in commercial settings.

As water line ice makers are usually hooked up to the nearest vertical copper cold line, the water network involved is pretty expansive, which means the problem can be harder to isolate.

Still, here’s what you can do to narrow it down.

Check Everything Is Switched On

First thing’s first, are your appliances switched on.

If I had a nickel for every time I was having trouble with electronics only to realize I hadn’t plugged them in or flipped the power switch, I’d be rich beyond my wildest dreams.

Make Sure Your Main Water Supply Is Turned On

Now you should check that your water is on at the mains.

I know this is probably the first thing you did when you realized your ice maker wasn’t filling with water, but I thought I’d mention it, just in case it slipped your mind.

If you’ve recently been on holiday or had some plumbing work done in your home, it’s easy to forget that your water may have been turned off, and if you don’t realize it’s off, you’d have no reason to check it.

If it is off, turn it back on again and see how your ice maker reacts. With any luck, the line will start drawing water immediately.

Run Your Cold Taps

Next on the agenda is to run the cold tap in your kitchen.

If it’s working fine, then you’ll know it’s not a problem with the supply, and you can narrow your focus to the water line connecting your ice maker to the mains, and the ice maker itself.

If your water is turned on at the mains, but your tap isn’t working, or perhaps only a trickle is coming out, contact the water company and ask if the issue is affecting the whole area or just your house.

Check Auto-Stop Functions Are Working

There are two main types of auto-stop functionality in ice makers.

Their job is to inform the ice maker when the ice bucket is full in order to halt any further ice cycles. Sometimes, these mechanisms can malfunction or break, leaving the ice maker in a waterless limbo.

The most common type of auto-shutoff is a mechanical arm. It hovers over the ice just below the rim of the bucket.

When the bucket fills, the ice pushes the arm up, triggering a switch in the enclosure that disengages the inlet valve.

To get the water flowing again, you usually have to manually flip the arm back down.

Should that be ineffective, it’s possible that the internal switch is faulty, so you may need to call in some repairs.

The other type of shut-off relies on optic sensors. One is a transmitter, and the other is a receiver.

The transmitter sends a beam through the ice bucket to the receiver, and when the ice obscures the beam, the signal to the inlet valve is cut off, halting the flow of water.

Give the transmitter and receiver a wipe down to make sure nothing else is blocking the beam, and see how your ice maker reacts. You may need to purchase new sensor control boards.

Check The Water Inlet Valve Is Open

The water inlet valve is the component that lets water pass through to your ice maker when it’s in use, and stops the water flow when it’s not in use.

Some ice makers allow you to open and close the inlet valve manually, and it can easily be knocked shut without you realizing it.

Check For Low Pressure

It could be that the inlet valve is trying to let in water, but the pressure is too low — most ice machines require a minimum of 40–120 PSI to function correctly.

Unfortunately, the possible causes for a loss in pressure are numerous, but most are easy to troubleshoot.

  • Leaks – A leak in the line is one of the most common reasons for pressure loss, so follow the line through your house, checking for any splits or holes, and examine all connections for damp spots. Tighten any loose connections up and replace any damaged sections in the line.
  • Clogged Filter – You may have a water filter in the ice maker itself as well as in the line that connects your ice maker to the mains. Eventually, these filters get so clogged with impurities that they actually block the passage of water molecules. Switch them out, and it may just solve your problem.
  • Clogged Lines – Water lines can get pretty filthy, especially if they’re out of use for a while, so every now and again, it’s a good idea to turn the water off, disconnect them, and rinse them through with white vinegar.
  • House Water Pressure – It could be that your whole house’s water pressure is low. If it’s always been like that, you can use something like this Simer 4075SS-01 3/4 HP Pressure Booster Pump to kick things up or notch, but if it seems to have happened all of a sudden, it’s best to call in a professional to check for underlying issues.

Check For Freezes In The Line

It’s not just the build-up of residue that can block a water supply line, but ice too. The vulnerable lines can normally be found under an access panel at the back of the ice maker/refrigerator.

If you can see or feel ice in the lines, unplug your ice maker or refrigerator, uncouple the ice maker from the fill tube, then blast the fill tube with the lowest warm setting of a hairdryer.

After about 5 minutes or so, the ice should have melted, and you can switch your refrigerator back on to save all your tasty food from going bad.

Troubleshooting Reservoir Ice Makers

Some refrigerator and all countertop ice makers draw their water from an internal reservoir, so there’s a lot less to look into when there’s a problem. It can only be one of four things.

  • Turned Off – Is your ice machine/refrigerator turned on?
  • Malfunctioning Auto-Stop – Much like the auto-stop functions of water line ice makers, the overflow protection in reservoir ice machines can get stuck in “off mode”. Give them a look over, and check for any obvious problems.
  • Faulty Pump – These ice makers rely on a pump to suck water from the reservoir into the ice machine. If the pump falls into disrepair, it may not have the power to draw water.
  • Frozen Lines – The internal water lines can freeze in reservoir ice makers, but some warm air from a hairdryer should sort them out in a flash!