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Appliances What to do if your water dispenser stops working

Published on July 8th, 2013 | by Terry Spencer


What to do if your water dispenser stops working

If your refrigerator’s water dispenser stops dispensing water, it could be a variety of problems.

First, check out this video to learn how water and ice dispensers work:

Enter your refrigerator’s model number here for troubleshooting and repair how-to tips specifically for your model here.

Here are the most common causes of water dispensers failing to work:

The water filter is dirty and clogged.

People often forget to change their water filters. It’s a wise idea to mark your calendar so you’ll remember to change your water dispenser filter at least every six months.

Possible solution: Enter your refrigerator’s model number here for the replacement water filters and other refrigerator maintenance products for your model.

Refrigerator water filter

The water supply tube is frozen.

The water supply tube in the door may be frozen. Look for a connection point at the bottom or top of the door. Remove the hose and blow air through it and out the dispenser. If air passes through, it’s not frozen and you’ll need to continue troubleshooting. If no air passes, it’s frozen somewhere inside of the door. In most models, the water line runs through a sleeve through to the dispenser.

Possible solution: Adjust the freezer temperature. Freezers must be kept at 0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The water line in the door may freeze, if it’s colder than that.

Water pressure gauge - smaller

The water pressure is too weak.  

Your water dispenser’s water inlet valve requires water pressure at a minimum of 20 psi so if the water supply falls below that, it won’t function properly.

Possible solution: Check the water pressure. You can test your home’s water supply pressure with a residential water pressure gauge available for around $12 at hardware stores. If you discover that water pressure is weak, contact a plumber to discuss next steps. Note: To check the water pressure directly at the dispenser, you’ll need an adapter to accommodate the smaller one-quarter-inch water line supplying the refrigerator.

The water inlet valve is broken.

If you’ve confirmed that your water pressure is a minimum of 20 psi and the water filter is in good shape, then check the water inlet valve for continuity.
You can use a multi meter like this one digital multi meter (#964740) to check.

Possible solution: If there’s no continuity, it’s time to replace the water inlet valve. You can find a replacement water inlet valve for your refrigerator model here.

How to test a water inlet valve

Some newer refrigerator models have two water valves, a primary and a secondary. The cause could be a failed primary valve, which has the important job of sending water to the second valve. Enter your refrigerator model number at for troubleshooting and repair help information.

The dispenser switch is broken.

Another cause is the dispenser switch, which is activated by the dispenser actuator.

Possible solution: Use a continuity meter like this one to check for continuity in the dispenser switch. If it doesn’t have continuity, it should be replaced.

The freezer door switch is broken.

When the freezer door is opened, the door switch turns on the interior light and turns off the ice and water dispenser.

Possible solution: Check for continuity with a meter. If there’s no continuity present, replace the door switch.

The control board is broken.

The control board is the controller of the entire dispenser system.

Possible solution: If the dispenser is failing in every way (no water, no sound, no lights, etc.), it’s likely that the control board is bad and will need to be replaced. If only one part of the dispenser system is not working, troubleshoot further. It’s likely another component has failed.


Water dispenser broken? We’ll help.

Enter your refrigerator’s model number here for troubleshooting and repair how-to information specifically for your model.

How to clean your water dispenser

Aside from regularly replacing the water filter, the most important step in caring for a water dispenser is to clean its drip tray and water/ice chutes. You can do this with soap and water. If you have hard water, use CLR, Lime Away or similar products. Be sure to rinse everything thoroughly before using.

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We wish you a great summer!

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Since 1999, three and a half million people have purchased replacements parts and accessories from RepairClinic and saved more than $260 million in repair costs by fixing appliances, lawn equipment, power tools, and heating & cooling equipment on their own. From the beginning, RepairClinic has provided free troubleshooting and how-to resources on its website.

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RepairClinic’s free, advanced online repair help system empowers do-it-yourselfers to fix common problems associated with home appliances, lawn equipment, power tools and heating & cooling equipment. DIYers can enter a model number to choose from a list of common symptoms for that particular model, troubleshoot and watch award-winning, expertly-produced videos to learn the most likely causes and conditions and purchase the correct part. stocks more than one million parts and accessories for 160 brands of lawn mowers, small engines, snowblowers, string trimmers, furnaces, air conditioners, air handlers, heat pumps, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, power tools and many other products.

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About the Author

Terry Spencer is an in-house appliance and HVAC expert for He has 29 years of expertise in appliances and HVAC equipment repair. Prior to joining RepairClinic in 2011, Terry was a respected, well-known technician at one of metro Detroit’s top residential appliance and HVAC repair businesses. Enthusiastic about fixing things and helping people, Terry enjoys his position with RepairClinic. He has a leading role in the development of RepairClinic’s how-to repair videos and repair help content. He’s also frequently called on for technical advice and press information for journalists and bloggers. He regularly completes extensive manufacturer training for appliances, HVAC equipment and outdoor power equipment. Terry has a refrigeration license and holds multiple certifications for an array of products. As a child, Terry was known to take appliances apart simply to see how they worked. While growing up on a farm, he taught himself how to repair small engines. Terry enjoys creating content that reaches and helps so many people solve problems on their own. In collaboration with colleagues, he develops and leads frequent Customer Care staff training programs for appliances, HVAC equipment and outdoor power equipment. When he’s not at RepairClinic, Terry spends time with his wife and children. An avid outdoorsman, Terry also enjoys Michigan’s seasons. He and his family reside in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area.

2 Responses to What to do if your water dispenser stops working

  1. Great tips! Solutions to common dispenser issues explained with perfection!

  2. Ryan Hudson says:

    Hello Terry,

    Nice videos you posted here. Yes, if we have confirmed that our water pressure is a minimum of 20 psi and the water filter is in good shape, then we can check the water inlet valve for continuity. We can do this by using a multimeter. It is such a very useful device.


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