How to Fix a Leaky Refrigerator – splice in the new ice maker and door water lines then install the new water supply valve to complete the repair. This project is continued from How to Fix a Leaky Refrigerator – Part 1.

I purchased a replacement refrigerator water valve, water lines and a John Guest hose union. Now that I have the required repair parts I’m ready to complete the job.

Refrigerator Water Valve and Line Repair

The plastic water line for the chilled water door dispenser goes under the refrigerator and routes somewhere inside the refrigerator compartment – exactly where I don’t know. Replacing the entire door dispenser tube would require removing interior panels which is way more effort than I want to get into. But there is another way – cut off the brittle and yellowed end of the heat damaged plastic water tube, then splice on a new section with the John Guest press-fit union.

John Guest 5/16" Union to Repair Broken Refrigerator Water Line

John Guest 5/16″ Union to Repair Broken Refrigerator Water Line

Be sure to keep the insulating jacket from the original tube which will be reused.

Heat from the refrigerator compressor has damaged the upper section of the refrigerator door dispenser water tube, which has turned yellow and brittle. The tube is covered by the black fabric insulating jacket but this only delayed the heat damage over several years.

I’ll cut off the yellowed section and splice the undamaged white section of refrigerator water line:

Leaky Refrigerator Repair: Heat-Damaged Plastic Water Line

Leaky Refrigerator Repair: Heat-Damaged Plastic Water Line

After cutting off the damaged end of the plastic tube, the John Guest 5/16″ press-fit union is installed to splice in the new water line:

Refrigerator Water Line Repair: John Guest 5/16" Union

Refrigerator Water Line Repair: John Guest 5/16″ Union

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Refrigerator Water Line Repair Steps

The steps to complete the water line splice and connect the valve are:

  1. Cut a 1 foot or so length of new plastic water line from the roll – make it much longer than needed.
  2. Insert the water line into the John Guest Union.
  3. Hold the water valve bracket against the refrigerator frame in its mounting position. The valve bracket has a hook that fits in the refrigerator frame that makes this easy. You can also fasten the bracket with the single mounting screw if you need a third hand.
  4. Hold the end of the tube next to the water valve inlet, allowing about 1″ of length to insert the tube into the valve. Check the tube has a generous curve with no pinching or kinks. You’ll need to lay on the floor here to see under the valve.
  5. Make the cut. A utility knife works well.
  6. Insert the tube into the water valve.
  7. Check for kinks and pinches in the tube and union. Everything fits good?
  8. Unhook the valve bracket from the refrigerator frame and lay it on the floor.
  9. Measure and cut the insulation jacket to span the tube between the water valve and union.
  10. Press the quick connection ring on the water valve inlet and remove the tube.
  11. Slip the insulation jacket over the tube.
  12. Reinsert the tube into the water valve.
Leaky Refrigerator Water Line Repair: New Line Splice with John Guest Union

Leaky Refrigerator Water Line Repair: New Line Splice with John Guest Union

The 5/16″ door dispenser water line with the union and splice is shown in the next photo. I’ve also inserted the 1/4″ ice maker plastic water tube into the new valve and reused the black insulation jacket. Install the full 6 foot length of 1/4″ ice maker tubing because it will be measured and cut to length in a later step.

Refrigerator Leak Repair: Water Valve and Line Replacement

Refrigerator Leak Repair: Water Valve and Line Replacement

Install the Water Valve Mounting Bracket

Reattach the wiring harness and fasten the water valve with the hex screw to the refrigerator:

Refrigerator Leak Repair: Reattach the Water Valve Bracket

Refrigerator Leak Repair: Reattach the Water Valve Bracket

Ice Maker Water Supply Hookup

The refrigerator ice maker water line simply lays against the back of the refrigerator and connects the the ice maker inlet near the top. Route the plastic tube behind the electrical cord and other hoses, taking care to avoid kinks and pinches. Allow about 1″ of tube for the ice maker inlet and cut off any excess length (> 4 inches) of tubing.

Before you insert the tube into the ice maker fitting, slip a small band clamp over the tube – see 2nd photo below. The ice maker fitting is very snug by itself and carries very little water pressure – if you don’t have a band clamp then a zip tie will do.

Refrigerator Leak Repair: Connect the Ice Maker Water Line

Refrigerator Leak Repair: Connect the Ice Maker Water Line

I used a small band clamp to secure the ice maker tube. Tighten the clamp lightly so as not to crush the rubber inlet or plastic tube, you don’t need much force here.

Refrigerator Ice Maker Water Line and Band Clamp

Refrigerator Ice Maker Water Line and Band Clamp

Refrigerator Water Supply Hookup

Remove the black dust cover plastic cap from the refrigerator water valve inlet and thread the water supply hose on by hand so as not to cross thread the connection. The compression fitting requires no plumbers tape or other sealant:

Refrigerator Water Supply Valve and Water Line Hookup

Refrigerator Water Supply Valve and Water Line Hookup

After threading the hose on by hand, tighten the nut with a wrench. When the nut is snug, tighten an extra 1/4 to 1/2 turn.

Tighten the Refrigerator Water Supply Hose

Tighten the Refrigerator Water Supply Hose

Leak Testing the New Valve and Tubes

Check that all fittings and the floor are dry, wiping up any water drips that may have fallen out of the water hoses.

With the refrigerator electrical cord still unplugged, turn on the main water valve at the wall. Check the hose fittings and water valve for leaks with a flashlight. Feel around for any leaks. Everything leak free? If not, either tighten the hose nut and/or check the press-fit water line connections are fully seated.

When your satisfied there are no leaks, plug in the refrigerator. Fill several glasses of water from the door dispenser to flush the lines and check for debris in the water. Open the freezer and make sure the ice maker arm is in the down position to trigger the ice maker operation.

Refrigerator Door Water Dispenser Testing

Refrigerator Door Water Dispenser Testing

After 15 minutes recheck for everything for leaks before calling it a success and roll the refrigerator back against the wall. Take care not to pinch the water supply hose or roll over the electrical cord.

Refrigerator Leak Repair Cost

My total cost for the repair parts was $64.63 consisting of:

  1. $33.01 for the GE Water Valve Part # WR57X10051
  2. $19.56 for the 5/16″ by ~6 foot door dispenser plastic water tube
  3. $4.20 for the 1/4″ by ~6 foot ice maker water tube
  4. $4.20 for the 5/16″ John Guest brand press-fit union

with $3.66 sales tax.

The repair required about 45 minutes.

Appliance Parts Store Advice

The sales clerk at the appliance parts store was very knowledgeable and seemed to have the entire warehouse memorized. I asked “What’s the most reliable brand of appliance in your opinion?” Her advice was:

  • Avoid all the “bells and whistles” when buying a new appliance because the high-tech features require computer electronics that tend not to last and require the replacement of a $500 circuit board when it breaks. Hmm, guess I won’t be buying that “smart” Internet-connected smart refrigerator.
  • Don’t buy foreign brands like Bosch and LG because her store doesn’t carry replacement parts. This isn’t a statement on quality, but the practicality of easily getting replacement parts.

While I was waiting at the counter, an appliance repairman who was picking up parts saw my water valve and cracked plastic tubing on the counter. He said he sees the heat damaged, brittle and leaking plastic water lines all the time, saying “It’s a common problem”.

Hope this helps,

Bob Jackson

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