Wondering why your ice maker is so slow? Fix it yourself with these super simple tips!

Written by David Lewis
6 Min read
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If you’ve ever reached for a glass of water on a hot and humid day expecting it to be ice cold and refreshing, only to find it’s warm and unpalatable, you’ll appreciate just how important a regular supply of ice is!

There’s nothing quite as refreshing as a tall, icy drink, especially during the warm summer months, and scientists have a few theories as to why iced water tastes just so amazing – firstly, humans have acquired a taste for cold water as it protects them from possible diseases that could be present in warmer water. Secondly, the physical sensation of drinking cold water tells your brain you’re rehydrating. And lastly, the experience of drinking freezing cold water quenches your entire body, which is why you crave it when you’re overheating.

Owning an ice maker will encourage you to drink more and stay hydrated, but when things malfunction or slow down (as can sometimes happen with any electrical appliance) it can be frustrating, to say the least.

Here’s the lowdown if you're wondering why your ice maker is making ice slowly, and what you can do about it.

How does an ice maker work?

Understanding how an ice maker works might make the process of troubleshooting potential issues a little easier.

  • Step 1 – the water inlet valve at the back of the appliance turns on the water, filling the system with enough to supply the ice maker
  • Step 2 – The water runs into the ice maker tray via a small tube
  • Step 3 – The temperature is monitored by a thermostat that sits inside the ice maker
  • Step 4 – When the thermostat identifies that the ice has reached the correct temperature, power flows into a small electric heater at the bottom of the tray, warming the ice cubes very slightly so they can be released into the ice maker bucket
  • Step 5 – A sweep arm pushes the cubes out of the tray
  • Step 6 – The entire process starts again when the sweep arm returns to its starting point
  • Step 7 – The process will end when the shut-off arm at the front of the ice maker sends a signal that the ice bucket has been filled to its capacity    

How often should my ice maker drop ice?

The rate of production of an ice maker really depends on the make, model, and type of ice maker. Freestanding, commercial-grade ice makers will obviously make more ice than one located inside your freezer.  However, as a general guide, a top-quality in-freezer ice maker will make between 8-10 cubes every 90-minutes, working out at around 130 cubes over an entire day and night.

What temperature should my ice maker be set at?

You may think the colder the better, but it may surprise you to learn that if a freezer is too cold it will significantly lower the production of ice in your ice maker.

The optimum freezer temperature should be set between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 to -15 degrees Celsius)

How does an ice maker’s thermostat work?

The thermostat of an ice maker (also known as the cycling thermostat) controls and regulates the ice-making cycle. It monitors the temperature inside the unit to determine when the ice is cold enough to release, at which point it closes so the ice can be ejected from the mold, ready to be refilled.

6 reasons your ice maker is slow at making ice

1. The temperature inside the freezer is wrong

The most obvious reason your ice maker is slow is that the temperature inside of your freezer is either too high or too low. Your freezer should be running at between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit and if it’s any higher or lower than this it simply won’t make ice.

Most modern freezers display the internal temperature on a digital display, but if you want to manually check the temperature simply place a thermometer inside the freezer and leave it for five minutes before checking. Adjust the temperature accordingly and leave for 24 hours to adjust before checking again.

2. You have too much/too little food inside your freezer

An understocked freezer can cause your ice maker as many problems as an overstocked freezer. Too little food means your freezer is having to work overtime to maintain the continuously cold temperature it needs to start the ice-making process, too much means airflow is hindered creating unwanted warm pockets.

Try to keep your freezer at least half-filled, filling with bottles of water if necessary to increase the load.

3. The water line is clogged

The build-up of ice anywhere along the water line will prevent the production of ice from your ice maker.

Resolve this issue by dripping warm water from a turkey baster along the line, remembering to unplug the appliance, and turning off the shut-off valve first. Once the ice build-up has been melted, restore the power to the appliance and listen out for signs that water is traveling through the line without further issue.

4. The water filter is clogged

An old, clogged or incorrectly installed water filter could be the cause of issues with your ice maker. It is recommended that a water filter is replaced at least every six months, but if you have a large family and regularly use your water/ice dispenser this could be more frequent.

Check for problems by noting the water flow from your water dispenser with the filter in place before removing the filter and testing again. If the water flow is considerably better without the water filter, then it is either clogged or has been installed incorrectly.

Remember to flush the system thoroughly once the new filter is in place.

5. The water pressure is too low

You can determine the water pressure within your ice maker by performing a simple manual test. Place a large container beneath the water dispenser and run the water for around 20-seconds – if there is less than 13 ½ ounces of water in the container then your water pressure is too low.

This issue is caused by a faulty water filter, and it should be replaced to restore a speedier ice-making process.

6. The water inlet valve is defective

The water inlet valve is most likely to be located at the back of the freezer at the bottom – remember to switch off your appliance before investigating.

To check the valve for an electrical failure, use a multimeter to check for good electrical continuity. To check the valve for a mechanical failure, disconnect the water supply line from the valve and turn on the water to check the flow.

Contact an appliance specialist for advice if you are unsure about any aspect of checking the water inlet valve.

In summary

The enjoyment of ice makers is entirely dependent on them working correctly and efficiently and the slow production of ice can be a frustrating problem. If after trying all these troubleshooting methods your ice maker still isn’t making the right amount of ice, you should contact an appliance specialist for further advice.

If your appliance is still within its warranty period, contact them to see whether an engineer can visit on a FOC basis. If it’s out of its warranty period, an independent repair specialist will be only too happy to help and advise you so you’re back on the road to cool drinks again soon.

FAQs

Why is my ice maker so slow?

There are several possible reasons for a slow ice maker, most of which can be easily identified and rectified in just a matter of minutes.  These include:
-          The temperature of your freezer is either too high or too low
-          Your freezer has too much or too little inside it to help it maintain a steady temperature
-          The water line is clogged or blocked
-          The water filter needs replacing or hasn’t been installed correctly
-          The water pressure is too low
-          The water inlet valve is faulty
Use your product manual for help and advice and contact the manufacturer or an independent appliance specialist for further advice

How to adjust an ice maker to make more ice?

To assist your ice maker with making more ice you can simply reduce the temperature so that the ice reaches the correct temperature more quickly – if your freezer has a quick freeze option, select that.
However, bear in mind that a freezer that is consistently too cold will also cause issues with ice-making production and therefore you should avoid tampering with the temperature too much.  Your freezer should be between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit for optimum ice-making conditions.

Where is the reset button on an ice maker?

Every make and model of ice maker is slightly different, and you should consult your product manual to find out where the reset button is for your specific appliance - some freezers don’t have one at all!
However, some of the most common locations of a reset button include:
-          Beneath the ice tray
-          On the front of the ice maker
-          The on/off button for the ice maker
-          The power buttons
-          Underneath the ice maker
In the absence of a button, you can perform a manual reset by unplugging the appliance and leaving it for around five minutes before plugging it back in again

Appliances made simple. 

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