How To Repair A Refrigerator That's Not Dispensing Water

About this repair:
  • Rated as EASY
  • 1940 repair stories
  • 5 step by step videos

Ice & Water Filter

Should your refrigerator be the type that offers filtered water for drinking or for ice, it could be that your dispenser isn’t putting out water like it used to because the filter’s gotten clogged up. A dirty filter reduces the amount of water that gets into the machine, so replace that filter twice a year or more often if your area has hard water. Check the owner’s manual under “Maintenance” to find the location of the filter in your particular fridge; it’s usually somewhere easy to get to, in the open area of the fridge that stores food.

Water Inlet Valve

The water for the dispenser travels into the fridge from the main supply line for your house, and a block in the valve that lets the water into the fridge may be what’s keeping your machine from dispensing water. To check on the water inlet valve, unplug the refrigerator and shut off the water supply to it. Remove the back panel and trace the water tube from the water dispenser to the valve to discover the solenoid inlet valve responsible for switching on the water flow. Test the terminals of that solenoid with a multi-meter to determine if it has continuity. Check to see if the tube bringing water in has a little debris screen on it, which may have gotten clogged. If so, clean the screen to allow water back into the water dispenser. Check the inlet tubing for blockage, and make sure the manual water shut-off valve is clean and clear on the inside. It could be that you need greater household water pressure to keep water flowing at the inlet to the valve. Or it could be that there’s dirt or a defect inside the water inlet valve. See the section here on the water dispenser actuator, and the micro switch, since the problem with the water dispensing could lie there as well. If all of these components check out fine, check to ensure power is reaching the water valve properly. This is a job for a service technician, since live voltage is involved.

Water Dispenser Actuator

When you press your water glass up to the water dispenser, the plastic bit that you depress down to start the water flow is called the water dispenser actuator. It starts up the dispenser micro switch with a click sound. To test this component, unplug the fridge and take the cover off the control panel. Does the actuator push the switch when you press it? Check the bracket that houses the actuator, the bracket that houses the switch, and the pivot of the actuator. If any of these pieces aren’t functioning, replace them. But if the actuator is triggering the switch, as it should, the problem probably resides elsewhere, like inside the switch or in the control board.

Micro Switch

Behind the little lever you press with the rim of your water glass to start up the flow of water from your fridge is the dispenser micro switch. When it makes contact, it sends power to the water inlet valve via a solenoid. Unplug the fridge, take the cover off the control panel, and find the switch behind the lever to check its continuity, using a multi-meter.

Dispenser Control Board

It could be that yours is a fridge that powers the water inlet valve by way of an electronic control. Once you have eliminated the micro switch and the actuator as culprits, if the water inlet valve is still unpowered it may be due to an electronic control malfunction. Check your owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website to see if they have provided information on how to diagnose a problem in this component.

More Repair Parts

Still not sure which part is broken? We can offer you custom troubleshooting help if you search with your model number.