Appliance tip of the week...

As temperatures rise, your refrigerator's icemaker is likely being used more frequently! Here are some helpful tips about how to keep it running well and how to fix common problems with it.

How an icemaker works

A switch inside the ice maker control turns on the water supply, which is an electric water inlet valve on the back of the refrigerator.

The water runs through a small tube in the back of the freezer wall and dumps into the ice maker cube tray.

The ice cube tray must reach a preset, low temperature. There is a small thermostat attached to the tray which is sensing the temperature.

When the temperature is reached, the thermostat allows power to flow through an electric heater on the bottom of the tray - this slightly warms the tray so the cubes will release.

Once the tray is warmed, a small motor in the ice maker control begins to rotate a sweep arm, which pushes the cubes up and out of the tray.

When the sweeper arm returns to its starting point, the switch inside the ice maker control turns on the water supply again and the entire cycle repeats until the ice bin is full.

Need ice more quickly?

The easiest way to do this is to reduce the freezer's temperature. Ideally, freezers should be set to between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 to -15 C). When the freezer is colder, the ice freezes faster and the ice cube tray thermostat reaches its set temperature.

Broken icemaker?

If your icemaker is producing hollow or thic ice or if it's failing to product ice at all, here are three possible fast fixes:

Make sure the freezer's temperature is zero degrees F (-18 degrees C) or lower. If you discover the temperature is above this range, your refrigerator may be having difficulty properly removing heat from the unit. The most common culprit for this is dirty condenser coils. Coils attract dust, dirt and pet fur. Accumulated layers make it harder for the coils to release heat. Making the coils work harder means greater energy consumption and higher bills for you - and eventually, rising temperatures and failures.

Simple fix: Clean those coils! Condenser coils are mostly commonly found beneath the refrigerator unit. These should be cleaned every 12 to 18 months. If you have pets, you may need to increase cleaning frequency to every six months.

On most models, you can access these radiator-like coils by removing the bottom grill or kick-panel located at the front or an access panel at the back. A flashlight will be helpful in this dark area to prevent any damage to the fan. Using your vacuum's crevice attachment or a convenient long hose attachment, carefully remove dust and fur on and around the coil. We like this one because it's also great for cleaning beneath other large appliances. Be sure to remove stubborn dirt by gently running a long-handled bristle brush over the coil. Vacuum again, if necessary, and restore power to the unit.

If your refrigerator's coils are located at the back, you can gently brush away dust and dirt with a long-handled bristled brush.

***Remember to disconnect power to your refrigerator before cleaning or performing any kind of maintenance.***

Check the frost buildup on your freezer's evaporator coils. Next, check the evaporator coils for frost buildup or lack of frost buildup. RepairClinic.com has disassembly videos to help you quickly and easily access the evaporator coils. There should be a consistent amount of frost on each coil. If only a few coils have frost, it's likely the system has developed a leak or there is a restriction. You will need to check the defrost components for a failure. With your refrigerator's model number handy, head to our Repair Help for information about how to do this.

Make sure you have sufficient water pressure.

The most common problem with ice makers doing a poor job or failing to do their job at all is water pressure. There must be a minimum of 20 PSI of water pressure in order for the icemaker to work well.

Testing is simple. Turn off the water, disconnect the supply line from the water inlet valve (which is usually located behind the refrigerator), hold the line over a bucket and then turn the water back on. If the water flow is weak (indicating low water pressure), there's likely something wrong with your home's water supply. If the water stream is steady (indicating proper water pressure), the water inlet valve may have a restriction and will be need to be replaced.

RepairClinic.com has free troubleshooting information with symptoms for common icemaker problems. There, you'll find information about the likely causes, the correct, recommended parts as well as how-to repair information. With your refrigerator's model number, head to RepairClinic.com.

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