Why is Your Ice Maker not Working and What Can You Do About it?

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Last Updated on June 4, 2021
Doug Stephen

A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.  

Doug is a hardcore barbeque enthusiast and connoisseur. While he spends most of his time on editing and research, he sometimes moonlights as a product tester for particularly interesting things he comes across.

ice maker not working

Photo Credit: Quiet Hut

A premium-grade ice maker is a superb addition to your kitchen, allowing you to fill pitchers with cubes for backyard parties and add crushed ice to margarita glasses for high-class cocktail evenings. 

However, sometimes they stop producing or dispensing ice and you’re left wondering how to sort out the problem quickly and effectively. 

Luckily, there are several simple methods for dealing with malfunctioning ice makers, from changing the control lever’s setting to removing large chunks of ice from the storage bin.

1. What Causes an Ice Maker to Stop Working?

Whether you own a standalone product, a commercial-style modular unit, or a refrigerator with an integrated ice maker and dispenser system, you’ll find that these machines can stop working from time to time. 

Here are some of the most common issues that can lead to your ice maker breaking down. When you’re aware of the cause of the problem with your machine, you can come up with a solution.

Mechanical problems with the control arm

If your unit isn’t dispensing ice, check the built-in mold to see if there’s any ice in the cavities. If there is, this means you can rule out the possibility of a problem with your water supply. 

Most ice maker units have a control arm: this is a mechanical switch that determines when the next water cycle starts up. When this arm is flicked down, it triggers a new water cycle, and if you accidentally switch this lever off for whatever reason, you stop the cycle and prevent further production of ice.

Ice is clogging up the raker

A raker is an integrated mechanism that spreads new ice cubes evenly throughout your unit’s storage tank. If your model includes this device, you might find that larger chunks or clumps of ice get stuck under or in the raker, jamming it and causing your machine to malfunction.

Large chunks of ice form in the storage bin

Sometimes you’ll find that sizable chunks of ice can form in the machine’s storage bin. This happens because every time you turn on the dispensing unit, a built-in mechanism releases heat to melt the ice cubes slightly so that they’ll drop out of the mold and flow down the chute into your cup. 

This heat can melt the small ice cubes that are in your unit’s storage bin, and these cubes congeal and bind to each other, creating a substantial ice clump. If the machine’s auger isn’t working properly, these chunks aren’t broken down, and they won’t fit down the dispensing chute.

Supply line is filled with frozen water

Another common problem with ice makers is that your direct supply line can freeze up, preventing water from flowing into the machine. You might also have to deal with a corroded or rusted water valve, which means you can’t control your water supply effectively. If your unit doesn’t get a direct supply of water, it can’t produce ice.

The unit’s auger motor is frozen or broken

The ice maker’s auger is a built-in mechanism that drives the ice cubes from the storage bin and into the dispenser chute. A motor operates this screw-like bar, and if this motor freezes up or breaks, your auger won’t work properly, and the machine won’t dispense any ice into your glass.

2. What to do if Your Ice Maker isn’t Working?

Once you’ve figured out the source of the problem, there are several simple tricks you can use to fix your ice maker.

Break large ice chunks down into smaller bits

If an ice clump has formed inside your storage bin and it’s blocking the raker or clogging up the entrance to the unit’s dispenser tube, you’ll need to remove this bin and break the chunks down into smaller pieces yourself. If you find a clump that’s too big to break apart manually, you should just throw it away: putting it back in the storage bin will only cause more blockages in the future.

Unplug your water supply line, then plug it back in again

If you suspect there’s an issue with the supply connection and that this is the reason for your ice maker not working, try turning off the water supply valve and unplugging the line for a few moments before plugging it up to the back of the freezer again. This way, you can make sure that the water supply line is properly connected to your ice maker and dispenser unit. 

If there’s still an issue with the supply line after you’ve done this, you’ll need to unplug your freezer, turn off the shut-off valve, and check this line to see if it’s frozen. Use a hairdryer, hot air fan, or a small stream of warm water to thaw the ice inside the tubing before connecting the line back up to the system.

Move the control arm back into its correct position

Sometimes all you have to do to sort out the problem with your ice maker is to manually adjust the unit’s control arm so that it’s pointing downward: this will activate the start of a new water cycle, and you’ll be drinking icy water and margaritas in no time.

Change the settings for water dosage per cycle

You might also need to adjust the quantity of water that the ice maker uses for each cycle. If the machine uses too much water, it creates cubes, blocks, or nuggets that are too large for the built-in mold. When this happens, the ice can clog up the machine and get stuck in the dispenser tube. 

Take the mold out of your unit and locate the adjustment set screw on the ice maker’s upper side. Screwing clockwise will decrease the dosage, and screwing anti-clockwise will increase the dosage per cycle.

Warm up the auger motor

If you don’t know why your ice maker is not working, it could be down to your machine’s auger motor being frozen. If this is the case, you should try warming this motor up so your ice maker can dispense ice properly. You can turn the control arm into a downward position and just leave the motor running so that it will warm up this way. You could also unscrew the auger motor, take it out of the ice maker, and wrap it in a towel to heat it. The frozen water will melt, leaving you with a motor that should function effectively again.

3. Learn What to Do if Your Ice Maker’s Not Working

Everyone loves to use their ice maker, relying on this unit to create refreshing cubes of frozen water during the hot summer months. However, sometimes these machines can stop working and fail to produce or dispense ice for your drinks. Fortunately, there are several simple methods you can use to fix your ice maker without too much fuss, getting your cocktail party or family barbecue back on track in the process.