If you’re trying to figure out why your ice maker won’t eject ice, there’s a probability that there’s a more straightforward explanation than you think. It’s one of the most commonly experienced problems with standalone and built-in ice makers alike. Luckily, you likely won’t have to call on the help of a service technician to address the issue.
Below, you’ll find the best tips and tricks for fixing an ice maker that won’t eject ice as well as a couple of other troubleshooting tips. We’ll also discuss the most commonly experienced problems with household ice makers, so you’re prepared for any other DIY repairs.
How an Ice Maker Ejects Ice
It might seem simple enough for an ice maker to make ice when, in reality, it’s a relatively lengthy process. All the average person knows is that water goes into the machine, and ice comes out of it, but there’s a lot that happens along the way.
The Ice Making Cycle
Every ice maker is different, especially if the price varies; the more advanced the appliance is, the more expensive it will be, as well. You’ll most commonly find ice makers that use heating coils to loosen the ice from their tray and gears to push the ice into the basket. However, more expensive models will use prongs to transport ice through the machine.
Step 1: At the beginning of this cycle, there’s a timed switch that activates the solenoid water valve. This piece is an electromagnet that moves when prompted and opens the water valve on its own. On average, the solenoid water valve should only be open for seven to 10 seconds.
Step 2: Next, the water travels through the lines to the ice mold, which is a sheet that has cavities of various sizes. Depending on your ice maker model, there will either be a single sheet with one size of molds or large, medium, and small sheets. These molds are connected and resemble a half-circle that gets filled with water.
Step 3: As soon as the entire mold fills, the water will then begin to freeze, and finger prongs are inserted into each of the frames. These prongs will be responsible for moving the ice later on in the process. It’s important to note that not every ice machine has prongs, as some rely on changing temperatures to loosen and push the ice into the basket.
Step 4: You’ll find ice makers have built-in thermostats so that they can ensure the interior temperatures are within the perfect range for freezing to occur. The thermostats are also crucial to energy-saving features so that the cooling isn’t running 24/7. For ice makers without prongs, this thermostat is essential for moving the ice.
Step 5: Once the ice has fully formed, the thermostat will adjust its temperature to become warmer, which helps to loosen the ice out of their molds. Your ice maker may also have a heating coil right underneath the frames, which can help to loosen the ice, as well. Ice makers with prongs inserted into the frozen cubes will also rely on heat to loosen the ice into the basket.
Step 6: By lifting the ice slowly from their molds to the tray, the prongs will warm themselves up, allowing the ice to slip off the ends and into the ice basket. Another standard process is for the ice maker’s motor to activate and spin gears that push the ice from the bottom to the front of the ice maker. At this point, you should have a full basket of ice ready to be enjoyed.
Ice Maker Won’t Eject Ice
After exploring how your ice maker works, it’s time to think about what could be preventing it from ejecting ice in the first place.
Most of these issues apply to standalone ice makers and refrigerator-based ice makers alike. Also, the majority of these problems can be diagnosed and fixed without professional help.
1. Connection Issues
The main piece that provides power from the primary appliance to the ice maker is known as a wiring harness. This piece typically contains four wires and pins that connect and give the ice maker power.
If you’ve been noticing that your device not only doesn’t push out the ice but doesn’t make ice at all, this could be the problem.
If you have recently replaced your old ice maker with a new one, you could be using the incorrect wire harness that came with your replacement kit. Always make sure the wires within the appliance match with the harness you are installing.
Older ice makers may also have problems with their wiring, primarily if you use your ice maker frequently. You can easily find replacement wire harnesses to improve the connection of your ice maker. However, this problem is relatively apparent, as your ice maker won’t be creating ice at all.
2. Faulty Thermostat
Did you know that your ice maker can still be cold and have a defective thermostat at the same time? As earlier mentioned, this device needs both cold and warm temperatures to make ice. If your ice maker feels cold to the touch, it could be making just enough ice but unable to get it out of the molds.
As heat is required to loosen the ice so that it can be pushed to the ice bucket, an ice machine that doesn’t push out ice could have a faulty thermostat.
Replacing the thermostat in your ice maker is more complicated than resetting the unit or replacing an entire ice maker. If you think this could be the issue with your appliance, it’s a good idea to get the help of professionals.
3. Misaligned Control Arm
Every ice maker has a control arm; otherwise, it would never know when to stop making ice. Once this arm is engaged, it signals the rest of the ice maker to shut down its processes until the ice is consumed or melts away. With an improperly functioning control arm, your ice maker may not know that it’s time to make more ice.
It’s quite frequent that these arms get bent out of shape or fall off entirely. Frequently, they become misaligned by removing the ice bin for cleaning or emptying all of the ice from your freezer. Always ensure that when your ice bucket is full, the arm is locked upwards in the “off” position.
When checking the control arm, move it back and forth. It should always return to its original position, as this shows you that the spring that makes it move is functioning. If the control arm feels challenging to move or doesn’t return to its resting position, the spring could be broken.
4. Leveling the Appliance
As such a simple task, most homeowners don’t take the time to make sure their appliances are level. Most standalone ice makers will come with adjustable legs to make sure the unit doesn’t wobble, shake, or vibrate while operating. You’ll also find refrigerators have flexible features, as well.
One of the first steps in your user manual is to make sure the ice maker is placed on a sturdy and level surface, whether it’s the ground, a countertop, or on top of a bar fridge. If your ice maker isn’t steady, you can guarantee it won’t be able to operate to the best of its ability.
One of the first things you should do is adjust the legs to make sure water won’t leak out of the reservoir and the ice and be shifted to the collection bucket. With an unsteady appliance, the ice can get caught in its path from the molds to the ice bucket, or the water might not be able to travel to the frames as efficiently as it should.
This fault can result in malformed ice cubes or ice not being produced at all. You might even find that you will have to scoop the ice out yourself to get them into the bucket.
5. Resetting the Ice Maker
Most often, people find the best way to troubleshoot and fix their ice maker is to turn it off and turn it back on again. With that said, merely unplugging the appliance isn’t going to help, you’ll need to give it time to defrost and reset. This process is incredibly simple, whether you own a standalone ice maker or a fridge one.
Step 1: Before turning off the power to the ice maker, make sure the water valve is in the off position. You can then unplug the appliance from the wall and pull it away from the wall or cabinets.
Step 2: Take a look at the ice making apparatus and shift the control arm down so that it signals that it is ready to receive ice when you plug the appliance back in.
Step 3: Take a cup of warm water and pour it into the ice maker, as this will help to reduce any ice blockages that could be causing the lack of ice being pushed out.
Step 4: While it’s defrosting, you may want to consider leaving the ice maker unplugged for several hours. As soon as it’s finished, you can plug it back in and turn on the water valve.
Step 5: Give the ice maker a few more hours to go through a full cycle of ice production. If there were any frozen pieces or blockages, causing the ice not to get pushed into the basket, they should be fully resolved.
Another option for resetting your ice maker is its reset button on the front or the back of the device. As several issues can occur with ice machines, they typically have some easily accessible reset switch. By pushing this button, the appliance will start the defrost cycle on its own and restore itself to factory settings.
6. Motor or Gearbox Replacement
If you have gone through all of the previous troubleshooting steps and are still experiencing issues with your ice, it could be hinting at a more severe problem.
The motor and gearbox in your ice maker are two essential parts necessary for pushing ice from their molds into the basket. Without either, the device literally won’t be able to carry the ice to where it’s accessible. The main downside to a motor or gearbox replacement is that it can be quite expensive, especially as you should hire a professional for the job.
A far better alternative could be to purchase a brand new ice maker and install it yourself, as the process is incredibly easy. Otherwise, have a service technician take a look at the faulty equipment and provide you with a quote on fixing the appliance.
7. Faulty Ice Maker Module
Over time, the more you use a device, the more likely it is to experience wear and tear. Unfortunately, if other troubleshooting attempts do not provide a positive result, it could be that the entire ice maker module is faulty.
At this point, you have the option of replacing the whole appliance or replacing the ice maker module. By far, the most cost-effective solution would be to replace the ice maker module, which can be completed in a few steps.
It can be a good idea to bring your appliance into a professional repair person to get a free diagnostic before settling on a replacement. Although you will have to wait for the results, it can help you to save a few hundred dollars.
If you own a countertop ice maker, a better alternative could be to purchase a brand new appliance altogether. Typically, these devices are available for under $100, depending on the size of the unit and the features it has.
It can be troublesome to be stuck in a situation where your ice maker won’t eject ice, especially before a significant function. Instead of deciding to replace the entire unit immediately, it’s a good idea to walk through some simple troubleshooting steps to address the problem.
Often, a simple reset can fix the majority of issues. If you have found that your ice maker is still unable to transfer ice from the molds to the basket, it could be a sign of a more severe problem.
With the help of a service technician or diagnostician, you can determine what the issue is and the most accurate method for repairing or replacing the appliance.