How to Troubleshoot a Refrigerator Water Dispenser and Solenoid
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How to Troubleshoot a Refrigerator Water Dispenser and Solenoid

How to check to see if your refrigerator water dispenser is malfunctioning due to a blockage, frozen water lines, or a bad water valve or solenoid.

Water dispensing refrigerators have become common in households these days but there are a few repair issues associated with these appliances. The most common repair issue homeowners may have to contend with are solenoids. A solenoid is basically an electric control valve that opens when the water dispenser button is pressed. Some refrigerators have dual solenoids to control the ice maker as well. You will need to have your make and model number of your refrigerator if you need to order a solenoid valve as they can be different for various models.

Troubleshooting

Before you replace the solenoid water valve for your water dispenser there are a few items you need to check first.

Verify that you are getting water flow through the water dispenser in the door. If not, then you may have a water supply problem or a clogged water filter.

Check the water tube in the freezer that fills the ice maker. Make sure that it is not frozen. If it is, it will need to be defrosted. Sometimes the water line freezes when the refrigerator is overloaded and the cold air cannot circulate. Other times the plastic tubing in the door freezes. If you suspect this use a hairdryer to warm the inside of the door behind the dispenser, it can take 20 to 30 minutes.

Check your water filter. High efficiency filters can clog quickly especially if you have a lot of sediment in your water. Most refrigerators come with a bypass cap that can be installed where the filter is attached. Install the bypass cap and check the water dispenser; if there is no water flow, then you probably have a bad valve.

Check the saddle valve to see if it is clogged. The saddle valve is located on a cold water line under your sink or in the basement. Carefully open and close the tee handle to loosen any scale from the needle that pierces the pipe. You may want to shut off the valve and remove the connection to the water line and then slowly open the valve to verify that water comes out.

Saddle Valve

If the solenoid buzzes but does not dispense water you could have a failed valve. You can access the valve by unplugging the refrigerator and removing the bottom panel on the back of the refrigerator. Remove the wires from the ice maker water valve. The solenoid valve has two wires attached to it. Using a volt ohm meter, check the resistance across the leads of the water valve. You should read about 300 ohms. If not then the coil is bad and the valve will need to be replaced. If you do read 300 ohms, you may still have a clog or mechanical failure in the valve.

You can try removing the sediment screen inside the solenoid and flushing it with water to clean it, and at the same time you can inspect any seals or diaphragms to ensure that they are sound.

Replacing the Solenoid

As stated before, you may have a single or dual solenoid, depending on whether you have a water dispenser and ice maker. Make sure that you have the correct parts before starting your repair. There are several appliance parts distributors online to choose from.

Dual Solenoid

Single Solenoid

1. Unplug the refrigerator.

2. Turn off the water supply to the refrigerator.

3. Remove the back panel on the bottom of the refrigerator.

4. Remove the wires from the water valve.

5. Remove the screw from the bracket that secures the water valve to the refrigerator.

Bracket removal

6. Remove the water tubes from the old valve and attach them to the new valve. To remove the water tubes, you should have to just push in on the collar where the tube attaches to the valve. Older valves will have brass ferrules and nuts on the water lines.

7. Reconnect the water line or lines.

8. Reattach the wires and screw the bracket back onto the refrigerator. Make sure that you have the right wires attached to the correct terminals on dual solenoids.

Wiring Solenoid

9. Turn the water supply back on and check for leaks.

10. Plug the refrigerator back in and test the operation of the valves and check for leaks.

11. Replace the back panel on the refrigerator.

See my article on Installing a Water Line for your Refrigerator here: https://knoji.com/installing-a-water-line-for-your-refrigerator-icemaker-or-water-dispenser/

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Comments (13)

This is such a detailed DIY lesson so well stated for those with problems with refrigerator water dispensers. Promoted

I defrosted my entire refrigerator when I could have used a hair dryer. If only I had seen this great article, it would have saved me a lot of time.

Very useful and timing for this week end, thanks.

Pat

My water dispenser in my Kitchenaid dsrg22fkss04 refrig, continues to drip after dispensing. It has good floww while dispensing and almost shuts off completely, but has a very slow drip. Would this still be the solenoid?

Pat, It would probably stop if the solenoid is replaced, but the issue may be that your water may be hard. Scale or mineral deposits can build up on the inside of the valve and cause it not to close completely. I think the only way to fix it would be to replace the solenoid valve even though it is opening and closing.

Ron, Thanks for the response. I tried to clean out the valve with CLR, but the drip just got worse, so I will replace the solenoid. Do you have any advice on removing and reattaching the plastic tubing? Once I removed it, I also had a leak at the connection, and I do not know if the new solenoid comes with the retainer rings to hold the tubing in place or if I have to order them separately. Pat

Patrick, The solenoid will not come with tubing or the compression fitting. You will need to purchase a water dispenser hook up kit. You can read my other article about that here: http://factoidz.com/installing-a-water-line-for-your-refrigerator-icemaker-or-water-dispenser/ You may be able to reuse the tubing if you cut off the part where it is leaking and buy a couple brass ferrules. You can reuse the compression nuts.

This refrigerator (Kitchen Aid KSRG22FKSS04) does not have a threaded fittings to the soldenoid. It appears that the plastic lines are just pushed into the solenoid which contains an internal o-ring. The lines push thru a nylon or plastic grommet or ring that locks them in place, but it appears the only seal is the internal o-ring against the outside of the plastic tubing. Pat

Daniel

Could running the dispenser for a long while cause the solenoid to fail suddenly?

I was running about 5 gallons of water out of the fridge dispenser (through a piece of tubing to a large bucket) and it suddenly stopped dispensing water after about 4 gallons. I hear a "click" but no water dispenses, and no motor/pump runs. Its a Whirlpool side x side and it has the "ultraease filtration system"

Thanks!

Daniel

Daniel, It is possible that the solenoid can fail if it is energized for a long period of time, it probably overheated. You may also want to check and see if there is an inlet filter screen betwen the solenoid and the water supply line that may be clogged. You should be able to find a replacement online at websites like http://www.appliancepartspros.com/ or similar sites. Good luck. Dan

I replaced my water solenoid valve and still no water to the ice maker, could it be my ice maker being defective? I also replaced the water filter, and filed the ice maker up manually with water and the water froze, but did not dump the ice.

Daniel,

  I have a Bosch Fridge with water in the door.  I have changed the solenoid and filter.  The water starts out with a strong stream but then starts to thin out quickly.  It seems the pressure builds up, then I dispense water, and then the water starts to dwindle.  This is the reason I replaced both the solenoid and filter.  What next?

Kent

I have a KitchenAid KSRS25QAAL00 purchased in 1993. Everything has been working well. Recently, the water dispenser has been slow to turn off. Sometimes it continues running for half a second after pulling the glass away, sometimes two or three seconds. All the moving parts near the dispenser seem to be working OK. I can hear the switch click promptly - but I haven't tested with an ohmmeter. I'm guessing that something in the solenoid is about to fail. I don't want to do a lot of experimenting or go on using it because I have doubts about whether a saddle valve that hasn't been touched in 22 years will do its job if the dispenser gets stuck in the open position. I've read that low water pressure can cause this symptom, but the flow seems to be as strong as it's always been. My inclination is to bet on the solenoid and buy a new one, and probably get a new switch at the same time, just in case. (How expensive can they be?) Any suggestions or recommendations?
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