Refrigerator Water Dispenser

It’s very frustrating when you realize an appliance has stopped working, especially one as important as your refrigerator. Refrigerators are necessary for keeping your food fresh as well as providing water and ice, but what do you do when your water dispenser stops working?

There may be something serious going on with your appliance but before you worry too much there are a few things you can check out on your own before calling a repairman. To do this you’re going to have to figure out what the source of your problem is which you can figure out by seeing what symptoms your refrigerator has and then you can identify what the main problem is.

Basic Maintenance

The first thing to do is figure out when the last time you got a new filter for your appliance is. This is important because the basic maintenance you need to do on your refrigerator may be creating your issues. If you haven’t replaced your filter within twelve months (this varies by models and brands but you should never go more than a year) then you need to get a new one, that could be the cause of the problem because if the water isn’t being filtered properly it can cause your dispenser to stop or leak.

Important: As a homeowner, realizing that you need to waste another Saturday waiting for the landlord or handyman to come over to fix another damaged appliance is frustrating. It shouldn't feel like the norm to constantly have damaged appliances and systems in your home since it can come to a huge cost at the end of each year.

The Home Improvement Solutions eBook covers everything you need to do in your home when it comes to maintenance and improvement so you can avoid wasting another weekend waiting for someone to come to your rescue.  

Inspecting the FIlter

If you know you don’t need to replace the filter then you’re going to want to inspect it. The location depends on what kind of unit you have but the most common places for you to find it will be behind the base grill of the fridge, in the water line that leads to the unit (if this is the case you need to make sure the water line is disconnected before removing it), or inside on the ceiling or in the corner. In order to remove your filter properly you should refer to the manual that came with the refrigerator since removal varies by brand. Once you take it out you can inspect the filter for clogs or damage which will mean that you need to get a new filter.

Water Inlet Valve

The water inlet valve is what allows water to travel from the supply line in your house into the refrigerator. If there is a blockage in the valve then you can get a leak or the dispenser will stop working altogether. In order to check on the inlet valve the first thing you have to do is unplug the fridge for safety reasons and shut off the water supply.

You will find a panel on the back of the unit which you will need to remove and you can find the valve on the water tube which controls the water flow. The tube may have a debris screen on it which can get clogged from residue or build up, if this is the case then you’re going to have to clean the screen so water can pass through it properly into the appliance. If your screen is clear (or if you don’t have a screen) then check the tube itself.

Debris can end up getting clogged in the tube which will also stop the water from flowing into the machine, if this is your problem make sure the water is turned off and clean the inside of the tube to clear out only blockage. The last thing to check is your water pressure and make sure it’s working properly because if it’s not it won’t push the water through the tube into your unit.

Water Dispenser Actuator

The water dispenser actuator is the part on the front of the machine inside the dispensing cut-out that depresses in order to make the water or ice come out of the machine. Inside this part of the unit there is a switch that clicks when you press against the actuator and if the switch isn’t being activated then the water won’t dispense from the fridge.

Also, make sure you check around the actuator. If there is anything wrong with the facade, actuator housing, switch housing, or actuator pivot then they need to be replaced. If everything looks okay and the switch is being activated then the issue is somewhere else in the machine.

Switch

If you’re switch is the broken piece then replacing it yourself isn’t too difficult. Here is a step-by-step guide to checking if your switch is broken:

First and foremost, unplug the machine from the wall for safety as stated before. Next, you’re going to remove the drip tray which is located at the base of where the water and ice is dispensed from. Then you’re going to remove the dispenser facade, this can be done with a putty knife (view on Amazon)  and you’re going to want to pull the facade down as you work the putty knife around the bottom. Be careful when you remove the facade because often there will be wires connecting it to the water dispenser. You can test the switch by depressing the actuator and seeing if it connects properly, if it doesn’t work then more than likely you’re going to have to replace the switch.

In order to replace the switch you’re going to want to disconnect the wires (make sure you know where they connect, or take a picture of it so you can replace them in the end) and remove the facade totally. You should see a tab that is holding the switch in place. Release it in order to take the switch out and disconnect the wire harness.

Replace it with the new one. Then you want to work backwards and reconnect the wires to the facade and put the housing back in place. Then replace the drip tray and plug your unit back in and try the water to see if this fixed your problem.

Control Board

The dispenser control board is one of the last results as to why your refrigerator unit may not be working. The control board controls a lot of the main functions and sometimes even the water inlet valve. If you’ve checked everything else then the control board is probably going to be the issue and this should be handled by a professional.

However, if you are comfortable working with electronics then you can replace the control board yourself with the following steps (excludes smart refrigerators and some newer models). Usually, the control board is in the back of the facade and attaches to the touchpad on the front. To replace these make sure you order the proper model number of the control board and touchpad for your machine.

To remove the old touchpad use a flat nose screwdriver to disconnect the ribbon from the control board and slide it out. Then disconnect the control board from the back by pulling on the tabs and removing the board. After that simply click the new control board in, feed the new ribbon from the touchpad through the cut out and connect it to the control board, and stick the new touchpad in place on the front of the water dispenser.

Frozen Water Tank (top-freezer refrigerators don’t have these)

This problem is going to need a repairman to fix as it is very difficult to access the water tank without the proper tools and training. The way you can check if the water tank is frozen or damaged is if you see water leaking onto your food in the fridge. If you’ve checked everything else and you see a leak then call a professional to come assess the issue.

You Need to Know This About Your Refrigerator!

If you’re noticing problems with your refrigerator, you need to know what’s causing the issue and if you’ll need to get the refrigerator repaired or replaced. Having a working refrigerator is crucial for any home, and fixing it is just one form of home improvement, but there are many more.

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Whether you are a new homeowner, have owned a home for years, renting, or just love home repair and improvement topics, our guide will give you an in-depth explanation of many everyday home maintenance procedures. A lot of our readers use this book to increase the value of their homes, and they’ve saved a lot of money on things like repair that would have cost a professional handyman $100s of dollars.

Bottom Line

After following these steps hopefully you’re able to get your water dispenser up and running again.