When Icemakers Fail… Remember To Check The Obvious

Posted on May 23, 2015 by - Tech Talk

When there is a no-ice complaint, sometimes the icemaker is fine and instead the plumbing or installation is to blame. Low water pressure to a refrigerator can cause undersize icemaker cubes and result in the icemaker jamming during harvest. But how much water pressure do you need? And how do you determine what the pressure is? What does that look like?

The exact water pressure requirement for a particular make and model of refrigerator is specified in the installation manual, which no one reads. Nonetheless, it is there, so the manufacturers have made a good-faith effort to get that information out there. It's not their fault that most people who install wet appliances (hello, plumbers) and most appliance techs, for that matter, refuse to read these specifications or gloss over them with a "Yeah, whatever."

But there's good stuff in there! Most refrigerators require a minimum of 20 to 40 psi. The exact minimum is spelled out in the installation instructions. Most GE refrigerators, for example, require a minimum of 40 psi water pressure for the ice maker to work properly. Samsung requires a minimum of 20 to 30 psi depending on the specific model. As a rule of thumb, all refrigerator ice makers will work properly with a minimum of 40 psi water supply pressure.

But how can you tell what the water pressure is? Well, you could use a pressure gauge to measure it but, UGH!, what a freakin' hassle!

Wouldn't it be awesome if you could calibrate your eyeballs to tell when water pressure was less than 20 psi just by looking at a discharge stream from the 1/4" supply tube? Ya sure, ya betcha! And now you can do exactly that with the Samurai Calibrated Eyeball Water Supply Pressure Assessment Technique™ (SCEWSPAT, pronounced, "skew-spat").

Using my patent-pending SCEWSPAT technique, you can determine the pressure of any refrigerator icemaker water supply line using only your soon-to-be calibrated eyeballs! In this video, you will see what an inadequate water supply pressure looks like.


In general, if you disconnect the water supply tubing from the refrigerator, open the valve and see a lame, pee-pee stream of water, you done found a major problem, Hoss! That obvious problem has to be fixed first before you can determine if the icemaker is operating properly or not.

As mentioned in the video, an adequate water pressure (20 to 40 psi) exiting the 1/4" water supply tubing should be coming out with enough force to knock over a cup. At 20 psi, a 1/4" tubing is exerting almost a pound of force on the cup's sidewall. That's a lot and will knock over any cup!

Need more specifics? Okay, try this...

The specifications for the dispenser stream in a GE refrigerator is 13.5 oz/20 seconds. This is close enough to all the other manufacturer's specs that we can call this a universal spec.

Now, take a two-cup measuring cup (borrow from customer) run the dispenser and time it. If it doesn't fill 13 oz (or 400 mL) in 20 seconds, Houston, we have a situation. After doing this just a few times you will have calibrated your eyeballs so that you don't have to use the measuring cup/timer method again. Let's hear it for SCEWSPAT!

Learn more about how to kick refrigerator and icemaker bootay in the Samurai Tech Academy's Refrigerator Troubleshooting and Repair training course!

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