Why Is the Ice Partially Melting in the Automatic Ice Maker Portion of My Freezer

Dear Heather,

I’m so lucky to have a new refrigerator with water and ice in the door (I have arrived!) but in the several months since I got the fridge, the water/ice dispeser has become a little drippy, and there is mildew accumulating around the gasket between the actual maker (in the fridge itself) and the door dispenser. There are other issues that I think may be related as well. Just from typing this out I think the refrigerator door is not level, which would cause the gasket to not be sealed with the icemaker, but can you adjust the doors?

Also, I keep the temp at the manufacturer’s recommendations, and I even turned off the energy saver function to see if it would help, but it has not.

Signed,
Clumped in Clute
Heather says:

If you have any type of warranty with your new refrigerator, this is definitely worth a service call.  If however, you purchased your appliance with no warranty for service or parts, continue reading.

Just as a heads up, the troubleshooting process for your automatic ice maker is going to be a bit involved as it actually involves two appliances. It helps to consider your automatic ice maker as an appliance within your freezer.

Here’s what you know, the ice maker unit is functioning in that it is making ice, cutting the ice, and attempting to dispense the ice. The problem occurs while the ice is stored, waiting to be dispensed. It sounds as though the problem is not with your ice maker, but with your freezer.

You know that the ice is melting partially creating clumps.

You also know that there is excess humidity in your freezer.

The ice dispenser is at the top of your freezer, warm air may be somehow entering your appliance and rising, as warm air does. The warm air is then causing your ice to partially melt, creating the ice clumps that the dispenser cannot handle.

Let’s rule out that warm, moist air is not entering your freezer.

Check the flap that seals the chute from the ice dispenser. Sometimes a clump of ice will prevent the flap from closing securely. It’s also possible that the flap is warped, if this is the case it should be replaced.

If everything checks out with the flap, it’s time to check the gasket around the freezer door itself. Grab a crisp dollar bill; shut the bill between the freezer door gasket the frame. If the bill slides out with no resistance, your gasket is not sealing. If there is resistance, great! That section of your gasket is fine. Start at the top left most portion of your door and continue checking at points around the perimeter. If there is no point at which the bill slides out easily, chances are it’s not your gasket. However, it wouldn’t hurt anything to wipe it with a damp, soapy cloth, follow with just a damp wipe down, and then treat the gasket with silicone lubricant. (You can find this in the automotive section of big box stores).

If the gasket isn’t sealing, clean it well, lubricate it with silicone lubricant and try again. If it still doesn’t seal the freezer gasket needs to be replaced. Replacing a gasket is fairly easy fix. Generally you’ll find the replacement of a gasket goes like this:

  • Lift up the inside of the gasket to reveal the hex nuts underneath.
  • Loosen but don’t remove the hex nuts, remove the gasket and replace with a new one from your local appliance repair store.
  • Tighten the nuts.
  • Test the seal.
  • Follow the steps in the next section to prepare your freezer and ice maker to go back into regular use

If the problem was NOT the gasket or flap.

It’s quite possible that a temporary problem, like an ice cube in the chute flap has set you up for this mess. Turn off your ice maker and freezer. Remove the ice storage unit from the freezer completely. Wipe down your freezer with a dilute bleach solution to kill any mildew and then use a few dry cloths to dry your entire freezer. Wash and dry the ice bucket and check for any broken plastic pieces. If everything looks fine, dry the bin thoroughly, and return it to the freezer. Turn the freezer back on and leave it shut for 24 hours. That’s an entire day. Do not open the door and do not turn on your ice maker. The freezer a chance to get back to its optimum temperature.

After 24 hours open the door and quickly inspect the interior for frost or excess moisture.

If there’s none, great! Turn on your ice maker and return food to the freezer. After each batch of ice gets dumped into the bin, use the ice dispenser to take out a glassful. This will help the bin fill properly.

If there was frost on the inside of the freezer after the 24 hour stabilization period, your defrost thermostat may be malfunctioning.  This level of fix is beyond the scope of this article and would most likely involve a service call. The information we’ve gone over will help you know that the appliance repair person isn’t trying to pull one over on you. Go with an appliance repair service recommended by your manufacturer, generally you can find these by calling the customer service line in your appliance manual. If you don’t have your manual, search for the model of your appliance along with the brand name, most manufacturers have online versions.

Good luck!

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.



4 Comments

  1. Asok Asus on November 29, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    thanks. your article put me onto the right track to fix this ice-melting-in-the-reservoir problem in my Frigidaire/Kenmore side-by-side, with in-the-door ice dispenser.

    I used a flashlight and looked up at the outside of the flap-door, and sure enough it was gaping open by about 3/8 of an inch or so. Pushing against it would close it, but it would spring right back open, so something was wrong with the whole flap-door mechanism.

    Fiddling round a bit, I found that the clear plastic ice shoot had become dislodged, so the shoot wan’t being held in place like it should by having its top wedged behind the back of the top of the bezel that surrounds the whole exterior dispenser unit. Turns out the wedged shoot is what holds the entire flap-door mechanism in place and that was why the flap-door wasn’t shutting all the way. As soon as I snapped the clear plastic ice shoot back into place, the flap-door worked perfectly!

    • Heather Solos on December 5, 2015 at 10:37 am

      Fantastic. I’m glad you were able to fix it without a hefty repair bill.

  2. KeterMagick on October 4, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    As Heather said, it will be helpful to search online for your appliance’s brand and model, but not just for the manual…look for posts from others who may have had similar problems, as this will help you make a stronger case if you need to “lemon” the unit. Try these keywords: [make] [model] refrigerator ice maker gasket seal door melting leaking mildew (brackets indicate where you insert the specific make and model information, minus the brackets).

    You also might come up with a very quick fix if someone else has solved the problem. A couple of years ago, I installed an oven I had purchased used on Craigslist, and shortly afterward, it started beeping incessantly and displaying an error code. I had no money to pay for a service call, so I searched on the make, model, and problem description (beeping, error code), and found that all I needed to do was open the control panel and clean some contacts. Problem solved for free.

    • HeatherSolos on October 5, 2011 at 7:26 am

      Great advice.

      I would add though, when you do those searches go to several forums. Sometimes there are people who aren’t giving safe or quality advice. Generally though, if you see it vetted in a couple of cases AND it follows general safety guidelines you’ll be fine.

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