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It’s summer and you can’t wait to get some ice-cold water. The only problem is, even though the ice maker says it’s full, it’s shooting blanks. Nothing is more disappointing, and that’s why I searched all across the internet to bring you these tips on how to fix it.
Fixing an ice maker that says it’s full when it’s not depends on the type and model of the ice maker. The good news is that we’ve covered multiple types in this article, with tips on finding solutions with specific models.
If you’re ready to get your ice maker working normally again, then let’s dive in!
Fixing an Ice Maker That Says It’s Full When It’s Not
Let’s dive in with ice makers that are within refrigerators, which is the most common type.
Note – many ice makers have a ‘reset’ or ‘test’ button inside them. After trying each of the below solutions, try hitting that button if you can find one. It will reset the ice maker and run it through a full cycle, which should help to clear any issues.
Fixing A General Refrigerator’s Ice Maker
Modern fridges tend to use what’s called a ‘feeler arm’ to detect when they’re full of ice. This is a small arm on the side of the ice maker interior which typically gets pushed upwards as the ice tray fills. However, this arm can get stuck in place in the fully upright (OFF) position. This typically occurs when the ice maker is full for a long while, the arm gets stuck, and then you empty the container but the arm doesn’t come back down.
To fix a standard ice maker saying it’s full, gently brush away any ice that’s sticking to the feeler arm. Then gently push the feeler arm down – don’t force it. If it’s stuck, lightly use a hairdryer to melt the ice around it, until you can move the arm with a gentle push.
Fixing Whirlpool Ice Maker Models
Some ice makers – mainly Whirlpool models – have an electric ‘eye’ sensor that tells the ice maker when the ice cube holder on the door is full. On some models this looks like a red light source on one side and a sensor on the other side of the freezer.
When this light is interrupted or blocked, power is cut to the ice maker. Problems with this sensor system can cause the ice maker to think that the ice tray is full.
The fix for this can be as simple as some leftover ice blocking the sensor. If that’s all it is, just gently scrap away the ice!
A common culprit is the board housing itself has a sliding door that, if closed, will block the sensors path. Sliding the door back to the ON position may be all that’s needed to fix this.
However, if there’s an issue with the electric ‘eye’ or the sensor system itself, this can be costly to repair. Thankfully, while OEM boards can cost hundreds of dollars, good aftermarket models work just as well for much cheaper.
If you’re not comfortable with repairing it yourself, our best advice is to contact the retailer or manufacturer of your appliance, and get several quotes from reputable technicians to have it repaired if it’s no longer under warranty.
Fixing An Undercounter Ice Maker
For undercounter ice makers, instead of feeler arms they often use what’s called an ice slideway. This is a slideway mechanism with a magnet attached at one end. It rotates when the ice bin gets full, eventually disconnecting the slideway from the magnet.
It’s the same concept here – we have a component used to detect how much ice is in the bin, and it could be stuck.
Here’s what to do to fix an ice full light coming on when your ice maker is empty:
- Open your ice maker
- Check your slideway
- Remove any debris
- Rotate the slideway to test functionality
- Check back within 2 hours
Chances are there is some frost build-up or a burr on the magnet or panel. This would cause the two to become separated.
Burrs are common manufacturing issues that aren’t really a problem until your ice maker is messing up. You could file it down with some sandpaper if you feel the burr is causing the issue.
When you rotate the slideway and the magnet is touching the panel again, look at the LED screen on the front of the door.
Check that the light turns off when the magnet touches the panel. If everything operates as it should, go ahead and close the freezer and wait to see if you have ice in a couple of hours.
If All Else Fails
As you can see above, the main culprit is an ice buildup that affects the component which is there to detect if your ice maker is full or not.
Icing over can extend to other parts of the ice maker, and over time can lead to functionality issues. A great cover-all solution is to simply defrost your ice maker. This will involve also turning off your fridge, so you’ll need to follow good practices here, like moving consumables to another cold storage, or filling the fridge with dry ice to keep it cool.
To defrost your ice maker, unplug the power, leave the door open, and optionally blow a standard fan towards the open ice maker. This can take between 4-24 hours, depending on the ice buildup. This defrosting should free any locked components from being stuck in ice or frost.
Why Doesn’t My Ice Maker Ever Get Full?
There could be several reasons your ice maker isn’t filling up your ice bin even after you’ve been waiting for hours.
Not Enough Water
Your ice maker is hooked up to your water line and if it isn’t getting enough water pumping through the line, you aren’t going to get enough ice.
Check the line running to your ice maker to see if there are any clogs in the pumps. If you have hard water in your home it could cause a calcium buildup over time.
There is a sensor on your ice maker that tells it when it’s time to add more water to the ice tray. The sensor could be broken or there could be an obstruction interfering with it.
There’s a Mechanical Issue
With ice trays, you have to manually fill them with water and place them gently inside your freezer for a few hours to get ice. With your ice maker, the entire process is done automatically.
The only way for the ice maker to know which step it’s at is to have a series of mechanisms and sensors in place.
Each one lets the ice maker know important information like:
- When it’s time to add water
- When the water has frozen
- When it’s time to pop the cubes out
- When it’s full
If the mechanisms and sensors are damaged in any way, the machine won’t be able to complete its cycle and keep popping out fresh cubes.
If you are having trouble keeping your ice bin full, make sure all your pieces are working correctly.
It’s Not Cold Enough
If your ice machine isn’t cold enough to freeze your cubes, your ice machine won’t be able to know when it should make another batch.
Your ice maker has a built-in thermometer that allows it to know exactly when the water has frozen to make your ice cubes.
When the water hits the freezing temperature it sends a signal to the machine to pop the cubes out onto the tray below.
If the water never hits that freezing point, your machine won’t keep trying to crank out more cubes.
Lower your temperature inside the freezer little by little. Make a small adjustment and then wait a few hours to see if that improves the situation.
Keep making small changes to the temperature over time if it doesn’t work at first. You don’t want to lower your freezer temp as low as it will go. You’d be putting unnecessary stress on the freezer and cause something to break.
How to Reset an Ice Maker That Keeps Saying It’s Full
Even if you followed all the steps in this article your machine might still be telling you it’s full when it’s obviously not.
The good news is you have at least one last strategy to fix the light of doom you can still try. Resetting your freezer machine altogether just might trip the lights on the display panel and get everything back to the way it was when you bought it.
The best way to make sure you do this properly is to check your manufacturer’s guide. Each freezer is different and has a different way to reset.
Some freezers have a reset button that makes it super easy to get everything back to normal. Other freezers require a complicated set of specific actions that need to be done in a specific order to reset the machine. Since models vary, you will need to reference your specific user manual for the needed steps.
If you reset the machine and it still doesn’t work it’s time to call a professional. Reach out to a repair person and have them take a look at the issue. You should feel good knowing you did all you could to get the problem fixed.
Fixing an Empty Ice Maker That Says It’s Full
Having an empty bin of ice on a hot day when all you want is a cold drink is soul-crushing. The tips in this article should help and remember you can fix an ice maker that keeps saying it’s full even though the bin is empty by checking the slideway. Thanks for reading and make sure to check out the other helpful articles and guides below!