Add this to your home departure checklist to prevent damage

21

By Steve Greer
We have always turned off the home ice maker in the refrigerator when we leave for a trip of any length. It always seemed like a good idea, but I didn’t realize how much until recently.

While at home the other day, I heard the ice maker dump the ice and a few seconds later the water started running for the refill as usual… And then it just kept running and running! I ran to the refrigerator and opened the freezer door of the side-by-side unit and cut off the ice maker, which stopped the water flow. Of course, some water ran onto the floor and a lot just froze as it hit the items in the freezer.

What if the ice maker had just kept running?

I hate to think of the possibilities if it had just kept running. It would have filled the freezer and maybe even pushed open the door and slowly flooded the kitchen. And this would have kept going for how many days or weeks during our next trip. Scary thought!

If the ice maker is full, it shouldn’t run. But there are those badly timed power failures… Murphy’s Law predicts it will be a lengthy power outage at the same time the ice maker fails.

I removed the ice maker and performed several electrical tests but found no issues with the motor or the ice mold heater. It appeared that the motor was just weak after 16 years and wasn’t able to push the ice cubes out of the mold. So, the solution was to install a new one – which gave us peace of mind.

What did become apparent was there doesn’t seem to be a fail-safe mode for this simple mechanical device. This ice maker design is very typical and used in many refrigerators. However, I am not aware of what type of ice makers are used in new refrigerators. Hopefully, a fail-safe feature has been added.

If needed, turning off the ice maker may be an item to add to your travel checklist before your next trip.

Thanks for the kitchen-saving tip, Steve! 

Related:
Leaving home – A checklist for successful domicile “abandonment”

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Patrick Krautkremer
2 months ago

We turn off the ice maker AND THE VALVE THAT RUNS THE WATER TO THE ICE MAKER.
Additionally we turn the hot & cold water off to the washer.

TechiePhil
2 months ago

As others do, I shut off the water at the street whenever we’re away for more than a day. 

Jesse W Crouse
2 months ago

As a Master Plumber with 52 years experience- If you leave your house and go away- TURN THE WATER OFF- NO EXCUSES, NO GADGETS OR NEIGHBORS WATCHING!!!

DW/ND
2 months ago

If leaving for a weekend or more we turn off the water at the main and the electric breakers except the refrigerator and 1 light by the panel. I also put a flashlite by the door in case we return in the dark. We lost our house to fire from the main panel aluminum wire – and we were both at work that day!

I like the idea about opening the outside faucet to drain off pressure. You could also open an upper floor and lower floor faucet to drain the system. We don’t leave in our ND winters! If you leave the main water on – remember the water softener backflushes – so be sure the drain is open!

Thomas D
2 months ago

As a former appliance serviceman I’d recommend turning off the water line to the refrigerator as a minimum requirement. I’ve seen too many plastic waterlines to the ice maker break. Of course,turning the whole house would be better

Gary Johnson
2 months ago

We always shut off the water supply to the entire house, and then go outside and open the hose spigot to drain off the pressure inside the house. No more worrying about frozen or burst pipes.

Jim
2 months ago

I actually take it one step further when I leave for the Winter. I not only shut off the water, but I also blow out the lines, including the line to the ice maker. Everything is removed from the refrigerator and it is turned off – and doors left ajar.

Roger V
2 months ago

Agree with the rest of the posters here. There are too many places water pipes and fixtures can fail. Just turn it off at the main. No worries.

Impavid
2 months ago

I always turn the water off to the house if we go away overnight. I also have a water leak sensor and a thermostat, both Honeywell, but there are other brands, that hook up to wifi. If I’m 1,000 miles away I’ll be notified if there’s water on the basement floor and I can tell if my furnace is on heat, whether the fan is running, and I can adjust the temperature up or down and turn furnace to air conditioning as needed. It gives peace of mind. When I’m away for long periods in the winter I put a large, round thermometer in the window (inside of course) so the neighbor can see it from his house. He checks that several times a day and uses binoculars if needed.

Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Impavid

These wifi monitors are great. Mine will also alert me if the house temp drops to 40 or below.

John
2 months ago

If you have an ice dispenser with an augers to dispense the ice, make sure to empty the ice from the holder. If you don’t then the ice will eventually become a block of ice and probably jam everything. Including not being able to pull dispenser out. It happened to us and it took a long time with a hair dryer blowing hot air up the opening to melt enough to be able to pull the trough out.

Bobert
2 months ago
Reply to  John

My Samsung will frost up to the point it freezes to the ice in the bin. The auger will not turn. The service man told me to defrost it with a hair dryer once a month to prevent it. He said there was a class action suit against Samsung over the design.

Jeb
2 months ago

I turn off the water main and the water heater breaker before I leave. Do not have to worry about water woes when gone, and why heat the water when not using.

Dan
2 months ago

It would be difficult to argue with that advise. We’ve never done it, but maybe we should. No problems yet, knock on wood. It probably would be a good idea to shut off our propane tank, too.

paul
2 months ago

We always turn off the main water valve to the house when we leave lots of other things can leak , water heaters, dish washers and possibly a pipes and individual valves better safe than sorry

Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  paul

Same here. Not worth the risk. Once we were on vacation, my daughter was home, and the water heater started leaking. She knew enough to turn off the main. Of course she was without water for a day or so.
I have since installed shut offs on all the individual lines. We can now isolate the leaking line without turning off the entire house.

Bob M
2 months ago
Reply to  paul

My neighbor went away for a few weeks during the winter. His furnace broke, the water pipes froze and busted flooding his house for days if not weeks. Till it finally started pouring out the top floor of his split level house. At 11:00 at night my dog, first time at that time, woke me to go outside to do his thing. I heard water running when temperature was near 0. Called 911. Fire dept ended up breaking into house to shut water off. Took days to locate owner. They sell a device that has a red light bulb hooked up to a thermostat. You set the thermostat at a temperature you want and put the light in your front window. When furnace stop working and temperature gets to your setting and lights up. Tell you neighbor to call you If light comes on so you can get the furnace fixed before any damage. Neighbors had to have the whole interior of house torn apart and replaced. Took six months. I tun my main shutoff when leaving. Don’t go anywhere during winter.

John
2 months ago
Reply to  Bob M

Some snowbirds put a large round thermometer inside their window facing their neighbor’s house. The neighbor can see the inside temp & call them if the temp drops too low.

Tom
2 months ago

We have a Samsung frig in the house. The ice maker on this brand is a failed design. Almost everyone of their thru-the-door ice maker fails. There is no repair. I turn off the water.

Ran
2 months ago

We always shut off and drain our toilet tanks, then shut off water to the house when we leave on a trip. Also, shut off water on RV if we leave for any length of time. I’ve had the same issue with my ice maker. Luckily, we were home! Now, I leave it off.

Drew
2 months ago

As far as the rv goes, I always shut the water off when we leave. At home there is always someone there.