How to Troubleshoot a Faulty Refrigerator Water Dispenser

Appliance Express
March 1, 2020
Refrigerator Repair

The water that dispenses from your refrigerator is one of the best ways to enjoy a glass of water. Not only is it perfectly chilled, but it’s also filtered by a purpose-built water filter inside the fridge. The cold fridge water often even tastes better than your home tap water because of the filter and the chill. But when your water dispenser stops working, you need a solution fast.

Fridge water filters can fail in a surprisingly diverse number of ways. They can stop dispensing water or start spraying water everywhere. The water may stop being filtered or start containing small bits of the filter medium. And this can be caused by any number of fridge malfunctions. If your refrigerator water dispenser is not working properly, try the following list of troubleshooting possibilities to track down the source of your problem. From there, a repair is often quick and easily taken care of. 

Straighten or Replace the Dispenser Tube

If your fridge water dispenser seems blocked or is spraying water at the dispensing point, then the most likely culprit is the dispenser tube. There will be a small plastic tube that runs from the water line to the in-door dispenser, and down into the dispensing assembly. There may also be a plastic tube end-piece where the water pours into your glass. Check the entire line for damage, a clog, or bend in the line. If the line is bent, try to straighten it. If it is broken or non-functional, replace the necessary section of water line and dispenser tubing. 

Clean Out the Water Lines

For low pressure, irregular dispensing, and lack of water, consider the possibility of a clog. Clogs are especially likely if there is a flaw in the water line or if the water filter is not up to date. Inspect the water line in segments and the components that run water through them for the possibility of a clog. You can often tell by seeing how water is flowing through the tubes. If you find a clog, it can usually be cleaned out by running vinegar and possibly baking soda through the line. You may also find a bend in the tubing that is acting as a clog.  

Inspect and/or Change the Water Filter

Water filters are the source of many fridge water system troubles. Each fridge model has a slightly different water filter and system. The way the water filter fits into its socket closes into housing, and clips into the water lines can all contribute to the flow (or lack of flow) through the water dispenser. Check to see if your water filter is halfway twisted or clipped so that the water flow is not even. This may have also resulted in leaks or flooding near the water filter. The water filter may even still have its packaging cap on, blocking water flow completely.

It’s also possible that your water filter is too old. A bad water filter can make the water bad and, of course, stops filtering it. This increases the chance of a clog caused by chalky minerals that are usually filtered. If it’s been more than six months since your last water filter change, change it out for good measure and be sure to follow the directions for your fridge model and filter exactly for best results. 

Test the Water Pressure

Getting only a trickle of water from your fridge water dispenser? If it’s not a clog or a line-twist, then it’s likely to be related to water pressure instead. You can test the pressure of the fridge water system at various points to track the problem down. Start at the water line in the wall, where your fridge gets its water from in the first place. If there’s no water pressure here, of course, your fridge can’t muster any more pressure for the water dispenser.

If there’s water pressure supplied to the fridge but not at the dispenser, work backward to find where the water pressure drops off. You’ll find either a clog or a leak. 

Defrost the Water Line

Water lines often go through the freezer and/or ice maker in order to provide ice and drinking water in the same dispenser assembly. However, this also means there’s a risk of water freezing in the line which, as you know, can cause problems. Open up your freezer door and check the ice maker and water lines to find out if there’s ice inside the tubes as well. If there is, a hairdryer on low is actually the fastest way to safely defrost your water lines without defrosting the freezer or disassembling the lines. 

Check the Pressure Switch

Now that you’ve fully investigated the water lines, don’t forget to test if the pressure switch is the problem. The pressure switch is where you press your glass to receive water. This can be a micro switch behind a flexible pad or it can be a large lever, depending on the design of your refrigerator. Understandably, if this switch is broken or disconnected then you won’t be getting water from the dispenser. Fortunately, replacing the pressure switch is usually a quick mechanical replacement or repair. 

Inspect for a Faulty Door Switch

Another switch worth checking is your fridge/freezer door switch. Because the water lines must move from the fridge housing into the fridge door to dispense, the door must be fully shut before water pours. This is practical, to prevent leaks. However, if your freezer door switch is broken or blocked by something, it won’t acknowledge that the door is safely closed and water will not dispense. 

Replace the Control Board

Finally, it’s possible that your fridge’s control board is selectively or completely fried. If other features like ice dispensing, timers, and filter lights aren’t working, then the problem may not be with your water dispenser assembly at all. If nothing else presents itself, ask a professional to test your control board for functionality and possibly install a replacement.

—Dispensing cold drinking water from the fridge is a surprisingly complex process of tubes, filters, ice makers, and closed doors. If your water dispenser is not working correctly, contact us today for an expert technician’s help in troubleshooting and quickly repairing the problem.


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