No Water from the Dispenser?
This page is dedicated to helping you diagnose why your water isn't working from your refrigerator dispenser. (i.e. Water from the door)
If your water from the refrigerator door isn't working, here is a quick & dirty approach to help narrow down which parts may be causing the issue.
These initial tests don't require any special tools or disassembly, but once you've narrowed down the issue - we may need to dig a little further to pin point the part.
See the flowchart below
The My Dispenser Isn't Working...Flowchart
(for my fellow 'just give me the information' folks out there)
Dispensing of Water - a modern marvel
- a theoretical look at how it's supposed to work -
First, we need to understand how the water dispenser works.
Generally speaking, here is the path that the water must follow in order to get to your dispenser and ultimately in to your glass.
- Water Plumbing Valve (at the wall)
- 1/4" tube from Wall to Water Valve Solenoid (i.e. refrigerator Water Valve)
- All the water routes through a refrigerator Water Filter Housing & Water Filter
- There is usually a water reservoir behind the crisper trays in the refrigerator that can freeze and/or crack which would prevent water from getting to the dispenser.
- Filtered water is routed back through one of two Water Valves (i.e. Icemaker or Door Water Valve)
- Finally, it makes it in to your glass or icemaker cube mold.
What happens when I try and fill my glass with water?
- When you depress the glass lever, you are activating a dispenser switch.
- This allows power to be sent to the water dispenser water valve behind the fridge.
- You'll hear a click and buzz when the solenoid is activated.
- As long as the switch is held down, the power is being sent to the valve.
- If there is no restrictions in the line (i.e. frozen water lines, clogged filter, faulty water filter housing, etc.) the water should be coming through the lines to your glass.
Yeah Yeah, but what's broken?
Here are some quick tests you can use to help diagnose which part may be the issue:
If your water isn't working, but you have Ice production, you can assume your water filter & water filter housing are good.
If there is no Ice production or water from the door and you happen to have a filter bypass plug (that came with your fridge) replace the filter with the bypass plug. If the water now works - you've diagnosed that you have a clogged filter. Replace the filter and enjoy your water.
If you try to get water from the door and you can hear a faint click & buzz from behind the fridge, you can assume your dispenser switch is working properly. This is the water solenoid opening (or at least trying to open) and trying to supply water to the dispenser.
If you have a GE refrigerator, a VERY common issue for the water to freeze inside the door waterline about 4-6 inches from the end of the line near the dispenser. This can be verified by inserting a ziptie or weedwhacker line in to the dispenser waterline. If you feel resistance about 4-6 inches in to the line - it is likely ice blocking the water flow. See IceSurrender Frozen Waterline Tool.
If you do not find any restriction in the dispenser line, you could have either a bad water valve, frozen water reservoir, or bad water supply from the wall.
NOT PRODUCING ICE & NO WATER FROM DOOR
Clogged water filter / water filter housing or bad water valve:
First, if your fridge is still producing ice - your water filter and water filter housing are GOOD. This is not the reason why your water isn't working from your dispenser. We know this because both the icemaker & water dispenser get their water from the filter.
However, if your fridge is not making ice AND the water dispenser is not working, it's most likely going to be:
A Bad Plumbing Water Valve (at the wall)
A Clogged Water Filter
A Bad Water Filter Housing
Testing for a Bad Plumbing Water Valve (at the wall) i.e. Water Supply
You'll need a crecent wrench or suitable pair of plyers for this step.
Step 1: Turn off the water valve at the wall by turning the valve clockwise. (righty-tighty)
Step 2: Remove the waterline (typically either brass or braided stainless) from the back of the refrigerator
Step 3: Insert the end of the waterline in to a bucket or glass.
Step 4: Slowly turn on the water valve at the wall.
Step 5: If water flow is present, your water supply is likely not your cause. Your water valve is working. If water isn't flowing, your plumbing valve / water supply is your most likely cause.
Step 6: Reinstall the waterline to the back of the fridge.
Step 7: Turn the water valve back on & check for leaks. (lefty-loosey to turn the water back on)
Testing for a clogged filter:
If it's been years since you've changed your water filter, you're over-due. So, you can either go ahead and switch the filter (since it's needed anyway) or if you happen to have a the filter bypass plug (that came with the fridge) you can install the bypass and try your water dispenser again. If the water dispenser now works with the bypass installed, the filter housing is good. You have a clogged filter and it should be replaced.
Testing for a bad water filter housing:
First, you should try removing/reinstalling the water filter. On the housing, there is a small button/valve that is depressed by the water filter. Often, these buttons do not get pressed down enough by the filter and sometimes the reinstalling will correct the issue.
If the problem still persists -
PRODUCING ICE, BUT NO WATER FROM DOOR
Testing for a bad dispenser micro-switch:
(see test video below)
The micro-switch(s) are located behind the dispenser lever. Once depressed, this switch allows voltage to be sent to the water solenoid valve in the rear of the fridge. Some refrigerators will send voltage to the valve via a control board. In these cases, keep in mind that the switches only job is to send a signal to the board. It's then the board's job to send the voltage to the water solenoid.
However, before you start tearing in to your fridge - Use your ears! When you depress the lever to get a glass of water, do you hear a click or buzz from behind the fridge? If yes, your switch is working and this isn't your problem. Search elsewhere.
If no click or buzz is heard, the switch may or may not be working. If you've got a multi-meter you can take a voltage reading at the solenoid plug to see if 110v is being sent to the water solenoid when the switch is depressed. If yes, your switch / board is good. You have a bad water valve / solenoid. Replace the solenoid.
Here is a great video on how to test a dispenser micro-switch. On appliances, the switches come in a 2 and 3 pole variety, but the process of testing them is very similar. You'll need a Ohm meter in order to test the switch for continuity.
If you've determined that your switch is working appropriately, but your water valve is still not getting voltage, it is most likely that your control board is at fault.
Frozen Waterline or Water Reservoir
Refrigerator water lines often run through the freezer door and have a tendency to freeze inside the door. Another common area for water to freeze inside the lines is the water reservoir. This is a tank (or coil of tubing) behind the crisper tray in the bottom of the refrigerator. Due to the fact that cold air sinks, a 36' refrigerator may be 32' near the crisper trays causing the reservoir to freeze solid and block water from getting through the water line.
Often the reservoir is fairly difficult to isolate as the issue as the water lines are part of the tank itself and are not removable. In order to thaw a tank, you can use a hair-dryer to heat the tank itself. Alternatively, you can let the entire fridge thaw for 24 hours (unplugged). Yet another way is to turn up the temp in the fridge section to allow the lower section to rise above 32'. Over a long enough period of time the water will thaw. This may take many days...so, if this is the route you take - be ready to wait.
Since the water line is routed through the freezer door, often waterlines will freeze directly behind the freezer door. This is especially true with GE refrigerator water dispensers. In order to diagnose this issue, insert a 6-8" length of zip-tie inside the water dispenser tubing (where you fill your glass with water). If the zip-tie can be inserted fully in to the tube, most likely the line is not frozen. However, if you find that the zip-tie meets some resistance - the line has ice blocking the water from getting to your glass.
The quickest and most effective way to clear this ice is with the IceSurrender Frozen Waterline Tool.
Got a question or comment? We'd love to hear from you.