Icemaker Repair

“Need more ice?” This Fix-It Guide on in-refrigerator icemaker repair tells how an icemaker works, what often goes wrong, how to identify an icemaker problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives simple step-by-step instructions for how to disassemble an icemaker, how to service the water inlet valve, and how to replace a thermostat in a control module. This Fix-It Guide also refers to motor repair and switch repair, and other Fix-It Guides.

How Does an Icemaker Work?

Icemaker Repair

Components of a typical icemaker unit for a refrigerator freezer.

An icemaker is a small appliance that fits inside a refrigerator’s freezer and makes ice cubes. The water flows through a tube to an inlet valve on the back of the refrigerator. When water is needed, the valve lets the water flow into an ice cube mold, where it freezes. When a thermostat senses that the ice is cold enough, a heater melts the ice surface so that ejector blades can push the cubes into a bin. The cycle repeats until a shutoff arm stops it when the bin is full.

What Can Go Wrong with an Icemaker?

Simple as they are, things can go wrong with an icemaker. The unit can get too little or too much water. Modular or non-modular controls (the unit’s motor and switches) may malfunction. The thermostat may be faulty. The water inlet valve may need service.

How Can I Identify an Icemaker Problem?

  • If the ice cubes have watery or hollow centers, the icemaker is getting too little water. Alternately, excess water or ice in the bin is caused by too much water. Turn the water supply screw to adjust. If adjustment does not remedy the problem, you may need to service the water inlet valve (see below).
  • If you suspect trouble with the motor or switches in an icemaker, use a multimeter to test the components. If the motor or switches test faulty, replace either the bad components or the entire module. If the motor and switches do not test faulty, you may only need to replace the thermostat (see below).

Fix-It Tip

Maybe it’s not cold enough for ice. A freezer must be 5° F or colder for an icemaker to work properly. Freezers typically operate between 0° and 8° F.

What Do I Need for Icemaker Repair?

Replacement parts are available from appliance parts stores or the manufacturer. The tools you will need to fix an icemaker include these:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Nut driver
  • Metallic putty
  • Multimeter

What Are the Steps to Icemaker Repair?

Disassemble an icemaker:

  1. Unplug the refrigerator.
  2. Remove the icemaker’s front cover by unscrewing or prying it off as needed (refer to the owner’s manual for specifics).
  3. Remove the ice bin, shelves, and vertical partition.
  4. Remove remaining screws, disconnect the icemaker wires from the harness connector or socket, and remove the unit from the freezer.
  5. Remove the back access panel (see the Refrigerator Fix-It Guide) and any fasteners that hold the inlet valve to the refrigerator.

Fix-It Tip

To access the motor, switches, and thermostat in a nonmodular icemaker, first remove the front cover of the icemaker. The on-off switch is activated by the shutoff arm. The holding switch keeps power flowing to the ejector blades during the ice release phase. The water inlet valve switch controls the flow of water from the inlet valve. Use a multimeter to test these appliance controls.

Service an icemaker water inlet valve:

  1. Turn off the water supply at the saddle valve on the pipe.
  2. Disconnect the inlet valve from the refrigerator (see above).
  3. Unscrew the tubes from the valve, letting excess water drain into a bowl.
  4. Unplug the wires from the valve.
  5. Use a multimeter on RX10 (resistance times 10) to probe both terminals on the valve solenoid. An infinite reading means the valve solenoid is bad; a reading of 1,000 ohms or less means it is probably good.
  6. Remove the plate and filter screen from the water inlet. Wash a clogged screen with a toothbrush under running water. Replace the screen if it is rusted or damaged.

Replace a thermostat in an icemaker control module:

  1. Unplug the refrigerator.
  2. Remove the icemaker control module and its housing.
  3. Remove the thermostat from the housing.
  4. Replace the thermostat, using metallic putty where the thermostat touches the case.