Ice Maker Basics - How They Work

Most household ice makers are actually small appliances that reside within your freezer and are usually independent of the other refrigerator systems. The ice maker works together with a water-inlet valve in the operation cycle. Free standing ice makers are also available for those who need more ice making capacity.


  • Electric Motor - spins the gears that eject the ice.
  • Water Valve - in most designs the water valve is positioned behind the refrigerator, but it is connected to the central circuit via electrical wires. When the circuit sends current down these wires, the charge moves a solenoid, which opens the valve for just a few seconds.
  • Ice Mold - plastic well, with several connected compartments.
  • Cooling Unit - the freezing of the ice is actually done by the refrigerator and not the ice maker.
  • Thermostat - measures the temperature level in the ice molds, when it reaches the correct. temperature a switch is closed to the cooling unit, which allows current to flow to the heating unit.
  • Heating unit - warms the bottom of the ice mold, loosening the ice cubes from the mold surface.

To provide power to all these elements, you have to hook the icemaker up to the electrical circuit powering your refrigerator. You also have to hook the icemaker up to the plumbing line in your house, to provide fresh water for the ice cubes. The power line and the water-intake tube both run through a hole in the back of the freezer.

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