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Plumbing for Ice Makers

Ice makers can be absolutely heavenly during the hot summer, blessing you with instant ice cubes to chill your water and other beverages. However, did you know that the plumbing you’ve installed for your machine could be choking it if not installed properly? Here is all you need to know about plumbing for ice makers and why it’s important.

Why Is Proper Plumbing for Ice Makers Important?

Regardless of whether an industrial or residential, the function of an ice maker largely depends on having a reliable and steady supply of water. The primary purpose of a plumbing line is to supply adequate amounts of water to your ice maker so that it can freeze up a proper batch of ice cubes.

However, the amount of water required can vary from icemaker to ice maker. As such, the plumbing line installed should be able to meet those requirements by being able to supply water at a sufficient enough rate.

Knowing this, it can be concluded that there is no such thing as a universal plumbing line that would be compatible with all ice makers. If the proper plumbing line for your ice maker is not installed, it could compromise the function of your machine and lead to other problems down the line. The size of the plumbing line is determined based on the required water flow rate, which could be unique for each ice maker.

What Happens if I Get the Wrong Sized Plumbing line?

To make a full batch of ice, ice makers require a specific volume of water. A variety of issues might arise if the plumbing line you choose for your ice maker fails to provide the necessary amount of water. Some of the problems are as follows:
– No ice
– Smaller ice cubes
– Damage to evaporator plates

Plumbing for Ice Makers – What Factors Need to be Considered?

There are a variety of factors that you need to consider when installing plumbing for ice makers. Here is what you need to consider:

Water Flow

This is the most vital requirement of an ice maker that you need to factor in when getting a plumbing line installed for ice makers. While there may be some flexibility in terms of size, space, and whether or not to incorporate a shutoff valve, your ice maker’s water flow requirements must be accurately met. The failure to do so will result in any or all of the problems listed above.

Gallons per Minute (GPM) is generally the unit for measuring water flow. A 5 GPM plumbing line, for instance, will deliver 5 gallons of water to the ice maker every minute. The required water flow rate is usually determined by the size of the ice maker.

Naturally, a larger, industrial-scale machine will almost always require a higher flow rate than a small residential or commercial ice maker.


Generally speaking, the plumbing of the ice maker should be within 6 feet of the machine. The close proximity allows someone to easily cut off the water to the ice maker if need be.

Shutoff Valve

A shutoff valve can be pictured as a contingency measure that allows you to immediately cut the water supply to your ice maker in case of a fault. Placing an extra shutoff valve between the plumbing and the machine is also something many people opt for in case the first valve ceases to function.

Saddle-type shutoff valves, also called self-piercing saddle valves, are the common choice that most people go for. While these valves are compatible with both plastic and copper plumbing lines, they have numerous shortcomings that make them a poor choice.

One of the most prominent downsides to these valves is that they are known for clogging the plumbing line from time to time, in doing so, cutting off the water supply to the ice maker. Also, these valves are quite prone to leakages, and the likelihood of this happening increases each time they are used. Furthermore, the rubber seals in these valves tend to wear off over time, allowing calcium deposits to accumulate.

Quarter turn shutoff valves are free from the issues discussed above and therefore are a much better option. Operating these valves is pretty simple and easy. All you have to do is to turn the lever a quarter of the way to cut off or open the water supply.


The size of the plumbing implicates the outer diameter of the pipe. Usually, the manual you’ll have received with your ice maker will have the recommended plumbing size required for optimal performance of the machine.

Plumbing for Ice Makers – How to Install It

Plumbing for ice makers

Installation of plumbing for ice makers is a multi-step process. Listed below are the steps that are generally followed in an installation procedure for residential ice makers:

– Turn off the main valve to cut off the water supply to your home. Turn on the kitchen sink to evacuate any water in the lines.
– Drill the required number of holes needed to run the plumbing line from the water supply to the refrigerator. Usually, you’ll need to drill through your cabinets, so make sure that the layout of the line does not interfere with your usage of the cabinets.
– Connect one end of the shutoff valve to the cold water supply line.
– Place the copper water line with a compression nut into the other end of the valve. Tighten the compression nut over the threads of the valve with a wrench.
– Unplug the refrigerator (with inbuilt ice maker) and pull it away from the wall.
– Run the copper plumbing from the main supply through the cabinets to the back of your refrigerator and connect it to the water supply line connector outlet at the back of the refrigerator.
– Make sure the connections at both ends are tight and secure.
– Move the refrigerator back in its place, plug it in, and you’re good to go.

Plumbing for Ice Makers – Call a Professional

It is important to note that the installation steps discussed above have been simplified to facilitate better understanding. The actual procedure will likely be more complicated. A DIY installation comes with the risk of damaging your cabinets by drilling holes in the wrong place or choosing incorrect equipment and materials for the plumbing, leading to unnecessary expenses. King is an expert plumbing company that offers top-notch services, 24/7. For quality plumbing installation, contact us today to schedule your job.