Refrigerator Won't Dispense Water

Refrigerator Won't Dispense Water

nicO and 3 contributors
Last updated on

When your fridge won't dispense water, a part of why you purchased it disappears. Let's get the spring flowing.

Your fridge won't dispense water. You can check these items right away:

  • Your fridge is plugged in, and the power is on, as in the light comes on when you open the door. (Sorry, we have to ask. Amazingly, this gets overlooked!)
  • Make sure the water is turned on and connected. Check both your household supply (Sorry again!) and the refrigerator supply.
  • Make sure the inlet hose or tube from the refrigerator supply valve to the fridge is not kinked. Sometimes, the fridge gets moved, and the tube is kinked or crushed. Copper tubing is notorious for kinking and staying kinked. Soft tube will fold and kink. Stainless steel braid is a good idea here.
  • Make sure the control pad is not locked (lit lock icon on the display). To undo, press and hold the lock button for 3-5 seconds. Also known as child lock mode.
  • Change the water filter. Remember to purge the air after you do this; otherwise, you might get no ice or water.
    • If you just changed the filter before it stopped working, this could be your problem.
    • To purge, run the dispenser (if it will now run) and dispense about a gallon of water.

Done all of these? Let's dig in.

Causes

1

This can cause no water (and often no Ice) if a connector is improperly plugged in or left disconnected. Sometimes, when you have to move your fridge, you have to remove the doors. And they don't get put back quite right.

Check all the connectors up by the door hinge. Remove the screws and lift the hinge cover and check.

All ok? Move to the next item.

2

On some models, if the doors are ajar, or the refrigerator thinks they are, the water will not dispense. Some models have mechanical switches; others have magnetically operated reed switches.

Since these refrigerators, in general, have a door alarm, you might know if it thought the door was open, except that the alarm can be silenced. You can test the switches:

  • Open one door
  • Look near the top of the door for a plunger or button that the door presses against.
  • Press the button and see if the interior light goes out. If it does, you know that switch works.
  • If there is no apparent button, you have a magnetically operated switch. Get a small magnet.
    • Hold it against the side of the long plastic cover part on the top of the fridge, about 3-5 inches from the hinge, on the part that faces the door when it's closed.
    • See if the lights go out when you hold it there. You may need to move it around a bit.
    • If the lights stay on, you likely have a bad door switch. That will keep your water dispenser from working.
  • Door Switch okay? Move on to the next item. If it's broken, you will need to replace it.
3

Generally, the tubing installed on the fridge doesn't have kinking problems unless the fridge has been disassembled and reassembled incorrectly. Clogs are very rare. If you feel a little lost, check out Figuring Out Your Tubing in the Additional Information Section for tips on figuring out what goes to what..

  • The first thing to check is the supply tubing to the door. You should take off the hinge cover on the door (located on the top of the refrigerator and inspect the tubing there.
    • Occasionally, in reinstalling the cover, the tubing will get pinched.
    • Since the tubing flexes a bit each time the door is opened, this can also cause it to move and pinch.
  • You should also check the tubing inside the door panel. On many models, there is a door panel with a small reservoir and a solenoid valve behind it. That valve controls the water dispensing and also feeds the lower icemaker in the freezer compartment.
  • You can also use household water pressure if you bypass the solenoid valves to make sure your tubing is clear. You can just get a straight-through coupling fitting and insert it in place of the valve, and connect the inlet and outlet tubes together. Have a container handy to catch the flow before you turn the water on.

If everything is clear, go to the next step.

4
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A failed solenoid valve may be the most common reason your refrigerator does not dispense water. Your fridge usually has multiple valves, and the test for which one has failed is fairly straightforward but takes several steps.

Valves can just wear out and while they might show a good resistance value (500-1500Ω) they may not be able to move the plunger and operate.

You face two issues:

  1. The inlet valve failed, or
  2. You have a bad dispensing valve.

There are often two valves that have to operate. One allows water to flow into your fridge, and the other allows water to flow to the proper device. Both must turn on and work right, or you will get nothing.

If the main valve (pilot valve) where the water comes into the back of the fridge doesn't work, you may also experience no ice being produced.

Take pictures of what you started with, and maybe even use masking tape to mark tubes and electrical connectors on the valves.

  • You can check your valves all at once by disconnecting the outlets of the valves and then, with a container ready to catch the water, press the water dispensing paddle or switch.
    • The valve nearest to the water supply should be disconnected first. If it flows reconnect its outlet and try dispensing again.
    • Go to the next valve downstream if you can figure out which one it is.
  • If you have a valve inside your refrigerator door and you need the door open for the valve test, you must make the refrigerator think the door is closed (probably with a magnet, as described above in the Failed Door Switch section).

If the outlet doesn't operate at any point, it's a good bet your valve is bad. This tests the valves at the same time but can be messy. Frankly, it may be quicker to just replace the parts rather than try to test with all the complications involved. Before you do, check through the Wiring Issues section below.

If the valves check out, go to the next section.

5

Two main problems:

  1. You have failed internal wiring or connectors.
  2. You have a failed dispensing switch.

Failed Wiring

A common failure on these refrigerators is the in-door wiring harness. Since the wiring runs through a hole in the left door upper hinge, it gets flexed a lot and somewhat pulled on as the door is opened and shut. This commonly leads to wiring failures or loose connectors. If you replace the valves and you still don't get things to work, it's most likely the door wiring harness. This is difficult to check.

  • A sign will be that the dispenser will work intermittently
  • The dispenser may start to work when you move the door wiring around.

If this is the case or you discover broken wires, the only recourse is a new door, or possibly you can replace the door foam unit.

Switch Failure

Another item to check is the dispenser microswitch. The following guide is an example from an LG refrigerator. Here it is.

If the switch checks out, you are running out of possibilities. Go to the next item. You might not want to reinstall the dispenser quite yet.

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Water Dispenser Microswitch (removed)

6
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Dispenser PC Board Example

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Main Control Board Example

  1. Your dispenser PC board is faulty.
  2. You have a failed main control board.

That's all that's left, folks.

Faulty Water Dispenser Control Board

An electronic control board controls water dispensing. Can you still dispense ice? Do the lights and buttons on the controls still function?

  • If you answered yes, it's unlikely that the dispenser control board is the problem.
  • If you answered no, test each dispenser component in the wiki above before replacing the entire control board. Then, test if your control board is receiving power from the supply.
  • If there's power to the board, and the entire dispenser system isn't working go to the next item.

Faulty Main Control Board

After all other troubleshooting has been completed you may find the main control board might be defective.

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