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Dave's Repair Service
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Icemaker Tips 
(Have a baby bottle?)

(Excerpted from The DRSNews, December 2002)
(You ARE subscribed, right?)

Anybody know what babies and icemakers have in common? Well, OK, maybe not much, but they do share one very handy item. 80% of all the icemaker problems you'll see can be corrected using a baby bottle!

Icemakers are set to fill for X seconds regardless of actual water flow, and the volume of water required is specified in cc's. It just happens that a baby bottle's a really handy icemaker repair tool, because it is graduated in cc's! And it's compact enough to fit into those cramped freezer spaces where icemakers reside. Not to mention it's always good for a few questioning looks (techs: leave the nipple on, carry it in plain view in your tool bag, and see what happens!)

But I digress. If your icemaker is producing small cubes, hollow cubes, huge cubes, or a solid slab of ice, one of the first things you want to check is the fill level. And it's not as difficult as you might think. (Hey, the hard part's wrenching that bottle out of Pookie's little fingers!) Unplug the refrig, pull the icemaker - usually one screw underneath, either 2 more or hooks above the cube mold - and unplug it. Take it to your sink and melt out any cubes with hot water. Then plug it and the refrig. back in, leaving it unattached from the freezer wall. 

Manually start a 'harvest cycle' (see below) and hold Pookie's bottle under the fill tube. You'll have to wait a few minutes, because the water enters near the end of one complete rotation of the cube ejector, which constitutes a 'harvest cycle'. Regardless your type of icemaker, you're looking for 125-150 cc's, with most working best around 140cc's, but anywhere in this range should work OK.

(When replacing your icemaker with a new one, always check and adjust the water fill level this way too. You'll save yourself a lot of trouble.)

Manually starting a 'harvest' cycle:

Note: Some newer model refrigerators require freezer door switch closure to power up the icemaker. If your icemaker doesn't start when you jumper or turn it, hold or tape the freezer door switch closed.
(Thanks for the reminder, Ray!)

Two basic designs of domestic, analog icemakers are most common. (Electronic models come & go from time to time - shudder - but we aren't seeing them in great numbers - yet)

Pop the front cover off yours and check the large gear front & center. If the front plate is metal, and you see a Phillips screw in the center of this gear, that's great - you own a 'microswitch' design. This is the most reliable home icemaker ever made! Here's what it looks like with the front cover off:

Microswitch type icemaker front

To manually start a cycle, either grasp the ejector and rotate upward (CW fr. front), or use a screwdriver to turn the smaller gear (CCW) if yours has a slot for this. Once you turn it a short distance, you'll hear a little 'click and the unit will start to run. Make sure the ice-sensing bail has clearance to raise & lower during this test cycle.

If there's no screw, that's OK too, you own a 'modular' unit, and even though we, um, make more income from these <grin>, they're still pretty decent. Here's what a modular looks like with the front cover off:

Modular type icemaker front

To start a cycle with this one, don't attempt to turn the gears manually - they'll break! You'll need a short piece of insulated solid copper wire, 12-14 gauge, to use as a 'jumper'.

Note: Before proceeding, I want to stress this jumper wire must be insulated, because you're holding onto a 'live' 120 volt  jumper here. The usual precautions apply (please see my disclaimer page)

(Just strip a 4 in. piece out of some 12-2 'romex' used in house wiring.) Strip the ends back about  in. and bend it into a 'U' shape. This wire is inserted into the holes marked 'T' and 'H' in the front of the icemaker to bypass the tstat and run a cycle. (don't insert it into any holes except 'T' & 'H' !) Remove the jumper after a few seconds - you'll hear a tiny click - and let it run, waiting for the fill at the end. Again, make sure the ice-sensing bail has clearance to raise & lower during your test cycle.

Both icemaker styles have a small screw to adjust water levels. The modular type has very little adjustment available, though (even though the literature says 20 cc's, I only find about 10 cc's available, via a tiny plastic screw on the right side - see picture below), which means the other components in the water supply have to be right (saddle valve mounted properly - not to bottom of pipe, clean fill valve screen, etc) Just rerun a test cycle after each adjustment. And be sure to wash & return Pookie's bottle when finished with the test.

 

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"Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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