Refrigerator Repair and Maintenance tips

Whirlpool Refrigerator

This service call was from a San Antonio customer who had ice maker issues with their Whirlpool side by side Refrigerator. The customer’s ice maker just quit making ice. This unit was about 8 years old. The first thing was to see if the freezer is cooling at normal temperatures. I used a laser temperature thermometer to do a quick check in the freezer. Also, it is a good idea to ensure the condenser under the refrigerator is clean. A dirty condenser will cause slow ice production because temperatures will hover about the 15-degree mark making for slow ice. The refrigerator will run longer too. Sure enough, everything is at 0F. Most freezers should be below 15F or so for any ice maker to work. I believe a 0F to10F is even better. If you lack a thermometer, check if there is ice cream in the freezer, if it is nice and firm – your good. Also, temperatures are typically ok if your food is nice and frozen.

Since all temperatures checked good, the next test was to feel if there was any ice inside the ice maker itself. Just take a look inside the ice maker mold and touch inside the ice maker itself to feel for ice. If you can’t touch inside the ice maker then maybe a mirror could do the trick. I was able to quickly determine that this ice maker had no ice inside the ice maker. I then looked at the fill tube on the back inside of the freezer wall to check if it was clogged with ice. The fill tube is where the water enters the freezer through the back panel right behind the ice maker on the wall (on this model) and into the fill spout of the ice maker. I ensured that this was clear of any ice. My next test is to see if there is water even going to the Refrigerator. If the unit has a water and ice dispenser on the on the outside of the freezer door simply grab a glass and see if you get any water from the water dispenser. If you do get water, we have a water supply. If you do not have water check for proper water supply to the refrigerator. This is done by pulling out the refrigerator locating the water supply valve (usually located on the rear wall behind the refrigerator) and shutting it off. Grab a bucket and remove the water supply line at the water valve and place it in the bucket. Turn on the water supply valve slowly to see if water is present. It should be a good strong supply.

Since I knew I had water through the door (I performed the water through the water dispenser test) the next step was to cycle the ice maker and check for proper voltage to the water valve located behind the rear panel on the back bottom of the refrigerator. Pull out the refrigerator and remove the lower back panel. Follow the water line from the water source on the wall we talked about earlier to the water valve. Now that you have located the water valve you will need to use a multi-meter to determine if 120vac is reaching the valve. If you are not familiar with multi-meters or would prefer not to do an electrical test I would highly recommend calling a professional. There is a shock hazard performing this test and you could get shocked or worse.
To perform this test first remove the water valve from the refrigerator by simply taking out the screws that hold it in place. Let it hang loose so you have access to it.

Locate the wiring that is attached to the terminals on the solenoid that has the 1/4” tubing under it. Another way is to follow the tubing on the bottom of the water valve that goes into the outer back wall on the upper right side of the freezer. This tubing attaches to the fill spout that water runs through to ice maker. You will need to set your multi-meter to 120vac and place the 2 probes from the multi-meter into the wire ends that are attached to the solenoid. I removed the wiring from the ice maker solenoid and put both probes one in each side. Now, go to the ice maker.

The procedure for cycling the ice maker is as follows:
The correct procedure to cycle the ice maker is not difficult. You will need a piece of insulated wire approximately 3 inches long. Splice each end of the wire ½ “ leaving the insulation intact in the middle. Bend the wire in half and grab the wire only from the insulated portion.
Remember if you touch the bare sides of the wires while jumping the ice maker you will be SHOCKED!
Pull the face plate off the front of the icemaker. Locate the holes on the power module and their corresponding letters. Place one end of the spliced wire into the T hole and the other end in the H hole. Watch as the gear starts to slowly turn, listen for a click (takes a few seconds) once you hear this pull out the wire completely. The outside gear of the ice maker should now be turning on its own without the wire inside the power module holes.
Return to the rear of the refrigerator and watch your multi meter. Relax and be patient while watching the meter. The harvest cycle may take a couple of minutes to completely finish. If the ice maker is working properly you will see 120vac on your multi meter at the end of the harvest cycle and your problem is most likely with the water valve.

In this case, I was getting the proper voltage to the ice maker, so I replaced the dual water valve and this customer had a working ice maker.

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