refrigerator ice maker

How to Replace the Ice Maker in your Refrigerator

Many refrigerators come with built-in ice makers. When something goes wrong with these ice makers, homeowners have several options for solving the problem.

  1. Replace the broken ice maker with the same part from the same refrigerator manufacturer.
  2. Buy a compatible third party replacement model.
  3. Buy a compatible add-on ice maker which is intended for refrigerators originally manufactured without an ice maker. In this case, disregard the water valve and ice bin that will come with the package.

John Sowden, Vice President of Purchasing and Technical Services at, recommends sticking to an original manufacturer part if at all possible and cautions homeowners to ask about "voiding your [refrigerator] manufacturer's warranty" before buying a third party or add-on ice maker.

Deciding Which Ice Maker to Buy

Differences in ice makers include the shape of the cube, the size of the cube, and the distribution mechanism. Most of these variables are determined by the refrigerator manufacturer rather than by the consumer who is purchasing a replacement. Therefore, knowing what you have to start with will help narrow your field of choices.

For example, ice distribution can be through a door dispenser or into an internal storage bin accessed by opening the freezer. Add-on ice makers are always internal, and therefore, not an appropriate replacement for refrigerators that have door dispensers.

Shape and size of the cube is also important. It is essential that replacement ice makers using a door dispenser use the same shape of ice as the original ice maker or the dispenser will not work. Consumers whose ice dispenser is internal may be able to choose the shape of their ice -- usually crescent, crushed, or cubes -- depending on the options offered for their model.

Installing the Replacement

Installation of replacement ice makers without door dispensers is generally straightforward and quick for experienced do-it-yourself homeowners, but even novices can usually complete the process successfully using the following steps:

  1. Locate the wiring connection point found just behind the electrical access panel and connect the ice maker's wiring harness.
  2. Attach the ice maker body using two mounting screws and an L bracket to keep it level.
  3. Fit the water tube into the water inlet hole (the hole that provides a feed from a cold water line located near the refrigerator) and lock it into place by turning a quarter revolution to the left and then to the right.
  4. Place foam insulation over the fill tube.

In the case of a door dispenser for ice, each model works differently and there is no one way to successfully connect a new ice maker to all door dispensers. Consult instructions from the manufacturer.

Lastly, most ice makers last six to ten years; expect the lifetime of both original parts and replacements to fall within that range. However, most replacements come with a 90-day warranty in case of immediate failure or rare defects. Homeowners who need to exercise their warranty should contact the part reseller for further information.