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Refrigerator Water Dispenser Not Working: How to Fix It

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No matter what season we’re in, our refrigerator water dispenser sees more action than ever as we make sure to stay hydrated. Sure, it might not be our refrigerator’s primary function, but we love having cool, filtered water on demand – drinking tepid tap water or running to refill a Brita every few minutes just isn’t our jam.

Speaking of jams, if you happen to be in one because you’ve got a refrigerator water dispenser not working properly, you don’t have to be caught high and dry. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to fix a refrigerator water dispenser, below. You’ll soon be toasting your DIY skills with a refreshing glass of H2O.

If you’re still parched after exhausting all the troubleshooting options in this guide, fear not – we can have a Puls technician get your refrigerator water dispenser going with the flow again, as soon as the same day.

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Common Refrigerator Water Dispenser Problems

Your refrigerator water dispenser is a convenient feature that you’ve probably become dependent on. Unfortunately, there are some common issues that occur with these units that can be frustrating. Here are a few problems that you may need to address soon:

  • Freezer not Producing Enough Ice—if you notice that fewer and fewer ice cubes are appearing in your ice bin, there could be a simple explanation. A thermometer that’s set too high will result in small, misshapen cubes or fewer than normal. The setting should be at 0 degrees F. A clogged water filter may be restricting the amount of water getting to the ice maker. Change the filter and see if the problem is corrected.

  • The Ice Produced are Hollow or Smaller than Usual—a clogged water filter can cause your cubes to become small or hollow. It’s an easy fix. Replace the filter and then flush the filter by dispensing a couple of gallons of water. The problem should resolve after a few icemaker cycles.

  • The Taste, Smell, or Color of the Ice is Unpleasant—there are several reasons why your ice is unappealing. Check your tap water. If it tastes bad, your ice is going to taste bad. You can correct this with a whole home water filtration system. Replacing your icemaker and fixing water filters could also help. Doing so every 6 months can keep your ice tasting fresh. Make sure to throw out any smelly food in the refrigerator as it can encroach into the freezer area and affect the taste and smell of your ice. Next clean out the fridge and freezer with water and baking soda to eliminate all odors.

  • Water Leakage from the Refrigerator Water Dispenser—you may have trapped air in the water line. Purge water through your dispenser constantly for 3 minutes to clear the air. If you still have a problem, check the water pressure to the fridge. Shut off the water and disconnect the water line. Test the water pressure by letting some drain into a bucket. If the pressure is sufficient, a failed inlet water valve may be the culprit.

  • Water Coming from the Water Dispenser is Warm—water from your fridge is cooled in a small water tank. The most common cause for warm water is not enough time between dispensing to cool it. Temperature fluctuations in the fridge could also affect water temperature. A blocked water filter or failed water inlet valve could also be causes.

  • Frost or Ice Build Up in the Ice Dispenser—this is usually a simple fix. When you dispense crushed ice often, ice and frost can build up on the door of the ice chute. You can remove it with a warm, damp sponge or wait for it to evaporate.

Reasons Why the Water Dispenser in the Refrigerator Stops Working

There could be a number of reasons why your water dispenser is acting up. In many cases, it is a simple fix that you can take care of yourself. Follow these possible causes of your particular problems:

Frozen Water Supply Tube

If you’ve made sure that the water dispenser is in fact receiving power, check to see if there’s a freeze somewhere along the line. There are two main places where the line to the refrigerator water dispenser could be frozen, thus blocking the flow of water: either in the reservoir inside the fridge, or in the expanse of line that runs through the freezer door, delivering water to the dispenser itself.

It’s not too difficult to determine what, if anything, is frozen. Find the portion of the line that leads into the freezer door, and disconnect it. Then, press the water dispenser paddle and see if water comes out.

If it does, this means that the cool water reservoir is not frozen and chances are that the line that runs up the freezer door is frozen. If water does not come out, locate the reservoir inside the refrigerator (often located behind the vegetable crispers), to see if it’s frozen.

Thawing out a frozen line can be done on your own, and is typically pretty effective -- for a time. Chances are, whatever caused the line to freeze in the first place will cause it to freeze again.

A professional home appliance repair technician can help you solve the problem permanently so book an appointment now. For a temporary fix, though, you can remove the cool water reservoir to let it thaw out, or, safely store the contents of your refrigerator in another cooler, and then unplug your refrigerator and leave the door open for a couple hours until the reservoir de-ices.

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To thaw out the line running through the freezer door, unplug the refrigerator and go over the section of line with a hair dryer set onto the warm or hot setting to unfreeze it quickly.


A Damaged Water Inlet Valve

The water inlet valve is the key component connecting your fridge the the main water supply. After years of use, it can become clogged or break. You can check to see if it has any leaks or damage by unplugging the refrigerator, turning off the water supply line, and pull the rear panel of the fridge. If you don’t see any problems, it may not be getting enough power. You can check the power supply with a multimeter, then locate the valve’s solenoid coils, disconnect two terminal wires and test the solenoid to make sure it is operating properly. If not, it should be replaced. 


Water Pressure Too Low

Low water pressure is related to the water lines coming into your home as well as the ones connected to your refrigerator. Check the faucet in your kitchen sink to see if the pressure is substantial. If it’s okay, you’ll need to check the hose going to the fridge. Shut off the water with the cut-off valve. Disconnect the water line from the back of the appliance. Allow water to flow briefly from the water line to a bucket. Check how fast the water flows through the tube. If it’s too slow, it may be your problem. You may have a kink in the water supply line. This often happens when the fridge is pushed too close to the wall.

Clogged Water Filter

Depending on how much you use your water dispenser, your filter may need to be replaced more frequently. If your filter is old, then it’s likely dirty and possibly clogged. This is a simple fix, replace the filter. Dispense water, about 2 gallons, in a constant stream to clear any trapped air and leftover debris. 

Faulty Dispenser Switch

The microswitch is behind the water dispenser actuator (where you press your glass against.) The switch activates the water dispenser. To check if it’s working, you’ll need to unplug the refrigerator. Take the control panel cover off, being careful with the wires. Push the actuator and listen for a click from the microswitch. If not, it may be faulty. Use a multimeter to check continuity. If there is none, replace the switch. 

Malfunctioning of the Water Dispenser Control Board

Replacing the control board can be challenging and dangerous. Don’t proceed unless you are confident of your capabilities and have the work performed by a professional appliance technician. If you want to tackle the job yourself, there’s an easy test to see if the control board is working. The control board prevents ice and water from being dispensed when the door is open. If you can do either, you likely have a faulty control board.

  • Disconnect the power by unplugging the fridge and/or turning off the circuit breaker.
  • Take out the drip tray by sliding it out, lifting the back to disengage the lock and then remove it.
  • Unscrew the dispenser housing screws, release the locking tab, and disconnect the wires to remove the housing.
  • Tape the plastic flap in front of the control panel to gain access. Take a picture of the connections for later. Release the tabs and remove wires.
  • Pull the control panel out of the door.
  • Touch metal or wear a grounding strap to discharge static electricity. Then you can handle the new control board without damaging it. Use the photo to reconnect the wires, move the plastic flap back.
  • Reconnect the wires on the dispenser housing and secure it with the screws. 
  • Restore power.

Measures to Keep Your Refrigerator Water Dispenser in Good Shape

Regular maintenance will keep your water dispenser running smoothly for years. You’ll want to remove any calcium buildup, dirt and bacteria to keep your water tasting great. 

  • Flush the system with vinegar—turn off the water supply, remove the copper tubing, and flush with distilled white vinegar (pour it in with a small funnel.) Let it sit for 5 minutes, then push the dispenser nozzle until all the vinegar is out.
  • Clean the nozzle—use a toothbrush dipped in vinegar to scrub all parts including tubing and the spout. 
  • Wipe down the buttons and reservoir regularly with a soft sponge.
  • Pull removable trays out regularly to clean off dirt and grime buildup.
  • Clean refrigerator coils regularly.
  • Maintain the thermostat temperature.
  • Clean the door gasket regularly.
  • Change the filters on a timely basis.
  • Make sure to close doors tightly.


How do I unclog a refrigerator water line?

Unplug the fridge, place towels on the floor to catch any water. Turn off the water line and disconnect it by removing screws holding it in place. Straighten out any kinks in the line. Ice is likely obstructing the line so you’ll need to wait for it to thaw before pushing it out.

Reasons the water dispenser doesn’t produce any water?

The main causes for a water dispenser to stop working are a clogged or dirty water filter, a kinked or frozen water line, or a damaged water inlet valve.

How to reset the refrigerator water dispenser?

You can reset the water dispenser by pressing and holding the auto light and dispensers lock buttons simultaneously. The filter status light will start to flash once it has reset.

How often should I change my water dispenser filter?

It’s recommended that the filter be replaced every 6 to 8 months for the best tasting water.

Does it cost more to have a water dispenser in a refrigerator?

The initial expense of adding an ice maker and water dispenser to a refrigerator is at least $200, depending on the manufacturer and model. It also costs about $25 more per year for additional electricity. Expect to pay $50 to $100 annually for replacement filters. You may also need plumbing services to connect the water line to the refrigerator.

Bottom Line

The convenience of having a water dispenser in your newer model refrigerator is becoming more common. Manufacturers have taken it to a new level with hot and cold options and extra filtering systems to remove most contaminants. Maintain your water dispenser, replace filters, and clean it out regularly to always have fresh, great tasting water.

Want to Make Refrigerator Repair Easy: Call Puls!

If you lack the tools, experience, or just the spare time to attempt to repair your fridge’s water dispenser on your own, leave it to the experts. Our technicians are familiar with all fridge brands and models, and can perform your repair quickly, professionally, and for a great price.

It’s super easy to schedule an appointment: simply hop online to book a time slot, and a certified Puls technician will be at your door in no time – often as soon as the very same day.

To make things even easier, we also offer a thorough in-home inspection for just $89, which is waived entirely if you move forward with our recommended repair service. This will help you can get an idea of the issue at hand and how much it will cost, before committing to anything.

And, of course, we stand behind our technicians and the great work that they do. That’s why on all refrigerator repairs we offer a 90-day guarantee on parts and labor.

You’ve got no time to lose. Book an appointment now to have your water dispenser working like new by as soon as tonight.

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Debbie D.
Debbie Dey is a professional writer with over three decades of experience in residential construction. Her background gives her a wealth of knowledge about all kinds of home improvement projects, which she enjoys sharing through her writing. She has been a Puls staff writer since 2018. In her free time, you can find her relaxing by the water or cruising with her husband in their sports car.
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