How to Hook Up the Ice Maker on Your New Refrigerator

We recently bought a new refrigerator for one of our rentals and were disappointed to discover that the delivery guys wouldn’t hook up the ice maker line to the water source. “Not in our job description” we were told. “Have your plumber do it.”

Rather than pay a plumber to hook up the ice maker, I decided to do it myself and discovered it wasn’t that hard.

How an ice maker works

An ice maker is a small appliance that fits in the freezer compartment of a refrigerator. It is fed by a small tube that runs up the back of the refrigerator to an inlet valve. When the refrigerator senses that more ice cubes need to be made, the inlet valve opens and lets water flow into a special ice cube mold.

To get the ice maker running, you must hook up a special type of hose from the refrigerator connection to a water source.

Supplies needed

New refrigerators with ice maker units usually don’t come packaged with all the necessary supplies and parts to hook up the ice maker. Rather than going to a Big Box Home Improvement store, visit your local hardware shop instead where knowledgeable clerks can look at your refrigerator’s installation manual, and tell you what parts you will need.

For homes that have an existing refrigerator water valve, the sales clerk will suggest a basic ice maker supply line which runs about $8. This kit consists of 6 feet of flexible tubing (called PVC hose) with a built-in compression nut at both ends. Since compression nuts come in different sizes, check the manual for the size that will be needed for your model of refrigerator. You will also need a small crescent wrench and some latex tape.

How to hook up the tubing

Step 1: Locate the refrigerator connections at the base of your refrigerator, referring to the installation manual for a picture of what the connection should look like.

Step 2: Remove the PVC hose from the packaging and note the compression nuts located on both ends of the tube.

Step 3: Thread one end onto the water shutoff valve, located in the wall behind your refrigerator. Use the wrench to tighten the bolt. Wrap this connection (called a water coupling) with latex tape as an added measure of security to prevent leaks.

Step 4: Thread the other end of the PVA hose to the refrigerator connector. Again, use the wrench to tighten the bolt and wrap the coupling with tape.

Step 5: Turn the faucet to the “on” position. The water will rush up the back of the refrigerator in a loud “swoosh”, and then stop when it reaches the inlet valve.

Step 6: Decant a glass or two of water from the water dispenser in front of the refrigerator to clear the line of dust. Before pushing the refrigerator back into position, double check the water couplings at the back to make there aren’t any leaks.

Step 7: Open the freezer door and set the ice maker toggle switch to the “on” position.

It’s really that simple. For most models, it takes at least an hour before the ice maker cranks into action and starts to spit out ice cubes. If the ice maker isn’t working, retrace your steps to make sure that there isn’t a kink in the line or that you’ve forgotten to turn on the water valve.

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