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Ice Machine Won’t Stop Making Ice? Here’s Why (+ How to Fix)

When an ice machine won’t stop making ice, the specific reason will depend on its type and thus the main parts. Also, a typical ice maker in a residential refrigerator with a freezer is very different from a commercial ice machine, so the causes for those will vary as well.

So, what do you do when it won’t stop making ice?

When an ice machine won’t stop making ice, check the shut-off arm & switch, the water inlet valve, and control module. For commercial machines, inspect the bin’s control switch or thermostat and the main board. Also, check the bin’s alignment and if the unit is level. 

Misalignments and minor glitches have simple solutions that won’t cost you anything. However, a faulty component is usually irreparable, so you will probably need to get its replacement. Read on to know everything about what to do when an ice machine won’t stop making ice. 

What You Can Do When an Ice Machine Won’t Stop Making Ice

Residential ice makers, like those in freezers, and large commercial ice machines have different types of components. Also, the specific method to make ice varies. Thus, I will address the two distinct types of ice machines separately. First, let me discuss a typical residential ice machine. 

When an ice maker in your freezer or fridge won’t stop making ice, you may find an overloaded bucket with regular or irregular pieces. In some cases, the ice maker and bucket are frosty with an erratic or extensive ice buildup in the unit. These symptoms imply different causal problems.

Generally, frost or an ice blanket indicates a faulty water inlet valve. However, an excess supply of ice cubes or pieces is usually due to an issue with the shut-off arm or lever, switch, or control module. Observe the symptoms in your case and select one of the following steps accordingly. 

1. Reset the Ice Machine

Consider resetting the ice maker before you investigate the problem further. A reset or hard power cycle often resolves any transient glitches in standard ice makers in residential freezers.

You can power cycle an ice maker in two ways:

  • Use the reset function if your ice maker has the feature.
  • Turn the ice machine off and unplug the appliance.

Resetting an ice machine serves multiple purposes. You can defrost the unit and get all the key parts in their neutral positions. Also, if the reset resolves the problem, you don’t need to inspect every component individually. 

How To Reset an Ice Maker

Many ice makers have a switch and a reset button on the control module. You can check the manual or the instructions on the appliance to know the exact location of the reset button. The reset button may be on the side or under the ice maker housing.

Here are the standard steps to reset an ice maker:

  1. Turn the ice machine off and remove the bucket.
  2. Allow the unit to defrost if there is excess ice buildup.
  3. Turn on the switch on the ice maker control module.
  4. Press the reset button and hold it until you hear a sound.
  5. Place the bucket and align it properly with the ice maker.
  6. The ice maker may run through a test mode, subject to its model.
  7. The unit may empty the ice maker mold and lower the shut-off arm to the on position.
  8. Observe whether the ice maker works normally after the reset and test.  

If your ice maker doesn’t have a reset button or test mode, turn it off and unplug the appliance. Wait for fifteen minutes or so before replugging and turning the ice maker on. This hard reset or power cycle can resolve minor temporary glitches. Else, you have a malfunctioning component. 

2. Inspect the Shut-Off Arm or Lever

Most residential refrigerators and freezers contain a half moon or flex tray style ice maker. Both these styles have a shut-off arm. 

Your model may have a bail wire or feeler arm extending out of the ice maker unit and over the bucket. Alternatively, you will find a lever below the ice maker’s flex tray.

Apart from the minor differences, both types of shut-off arm serve the same purpose in similar ways. The bail arm or lever should shut the ice maker when it cannot revert to its neutral or on position due to a full or overloaded bucket. 

Hence, inspect the shut-off arm to see if it is in an off or raised position. Also, check the lever’s alignment. This bail or feeler arm should not be warped, broken, or damaged.

A damaged shut-off arm or lever is irreparable. However, replacing this component is an easy and affordable fix. 

Replace the Shut-Off Arm or Lever

Your ice maker may have a bail or feeler arm with two ends. The shorter end goes into the loop at the rear, close to the water inlet tube. The longer and slightly curved end of the shut-off arm goes into the ice maker head. 

Most brands use this type of shut-off arm, including:

  • Admiral
  • Amana
  • Crosley
  • Dacor
  • Kenmore
  • KitchenAid
  • Maytag
  • Whirlpool

Watch how you can replace this type of shut-off arm in the video below:

Alternatively, your ice maker may sport a shut-off lever that is screwed in at one end. Some brands, such as LG, use this type of ice level arm. Replacing this lever requires you to unscrew the old one from the ice maker hub and fasten the new ice level arm. You cannot pry out these types. 

However, regardless of the difference, always match the part number when you buy a new one.

3. Check the Shut-Off Arm’s Spring

Suppose the ice maker shut-off arm is in impeccable condition. In that case, review the arm’s alignment with the unit and over the ice bucket. If you don’t see any deformity or misalignment, the problem could be the shut-off spring inside the ice maker head. 

Here’s how you can test the shut-off arm’s spring:

  1. Turn the ice machine off and unplug the appliance.
  2. Remove the ice bucket or bin for easier access.
  3. Move the shut-off arm upward to its off position.
  4. Feel the tension as you move the bail arm up. 
  5. The arm should remain steady in its off position.
  6. If it falls down, the spring is not working properly.
  7. The arm remains free in the on position, not off.

The tiny spring inside the ice maker head or control module may be misaligned or broken. Therefore, if the spring fails to raise the shut-off arm as the bucket fills up, the control module won’t know if it should stop making any more ice. Hence, this tiny component serves a vital function. 

Fix or Replace the Shut-Off Arm’s Spring

You can fix a misaligned spring, but a broken one needs to be replaced. Refer to the manual to check the parts of your control module or ice maker head. Use the information as a reference to take apart the unit.

Here are the general steps to fix or replace the shut-off arm spring:

  1. Turn the ice machine off and unplug the appliance.
  2. Remove the ice bucket or bin for easier access.
  3. Unscrew the unit and gently pull it out slightly.
  4. Disconnect the wire harness when you see it.
  5. Remove the screws on the ice maker head.
  6. Check the spring’s alignment and condition.
  7. Restore a misaligned spring with the shut-off arm.
  8. Replace the spring if it is worn out or damaged.

4. Check the Shut-Off Arm’s Switch Cam

The shut-off arm or bail lever should move up as the ice maker dispenses the pieces from the mold. Then, the shut-off arm drops down to its neutral or on position. 

However, an overfilled ice bucket will prevent the arm or lever from dropping down to the lowest position. Hence, the ice machine will stop.

This simple process won’t pan out as it should if the shut-off arm has a broken switch cam. So, the bail wire may remain in its on or neutral position. Thus, the ice maker will continue to run regardless of whether or not the bucket is full. 

Observe whether the bail wire or shut-off arm rises as the ejectors dispense the ice. If the arm remains at the on or lowest position, you have to check for a broken cam inside the control module.

Now, you have to consider a faulty switch cam only if the shut-off arm and spring are fine. In other words, the bail wire is not damaged, deformed, or misaligned. And the spring has enough tension when you manually move the shut-off arm up and down. 

The switch cam is inside the control module. This small part operates the shut-off arm by raising it as the ejector dispenses the ice out of the mold. Then, the shut-off arm swings down, and the cam triggers a switch in the control module, thus starting a new cycle to make more ice.

A faulty or broken switch cam won’t raise the shut-off arm. This rare instance may be an issue if the switch is damaged or displaced due to any reason. Nonetheless, the solution is to replace the broken switch cam. 

5. Observe the Water Inlet Tube or Cup

This problem is not relevant if you don’t find any unusual ice buildup or frost in the unit. If your ice maker doesn’t stop working but is still dispensing regular pieces, the water inlet tube or cup is not leaking or dripping. Thus, you don’t have to check the water inlet valve. 

However, if you find any frost or ice buildup inside the unit and the machine won’t stop making ice, you should test the inlet valve for electrical and mechanical failures. Also, frost and unusual ice buildup in the machine may jam the shut-off arm, spring, and other components. 

Observe the water inlet tube or cup as the ice maker mold is filled and after. If water continues to flow into the mold or you see constant dripping, the inlet valve is probably failing. 

You can test the valve’s continuity and check the inline water pressure to conclude if the part is faulty.

Here’s a comprehensive video tutorial about testing an ice maker’s water inlet valve:  

6. Replace a Bad Control Module

Suppose none of the issues I have discussed until now is the problem with your ice maker. In that case, the control module is probably defective. 

The control module sports a relatively simple circuit. However, there are several switches, notches, and motorized functions that are bound by time and temperature. An ice maker may not stop making ice if the control module fails to regulate the switch cam and shut-off arm, thus every new cycle.

The gears inside the control module regulate everything from the bail wire’s cam to the ejector blades. Unfortunately, most control modules made in recent years are not repairable. So, you need a new one. 

However, rule out the other typical problems before you suspect the control module and start considering getting a new one.   

7. Inspect the Ice Machine’s Bin Control Switch

Unlike household ice makers, commercial ice machines don’t have a bail wire or feeler arm to check the level and shut off the appliance. Instead, they have a bin control switch or a thermostat probe. 

Check your commercial ice machine or refer to the manual to know what feature it contains. If there is a bin control switch, inspect its condition, alignment, and whether or not the part works.

Here are a few common issues with bin control switches in commercial ice machines:

  • The bin control switch may be mechanically faulty or failing.
  • The switch is physically misaligned or not in the correct position. 
  • The electrical connection of the switch is frayed, weak, or broken. 
  • The ice in an overfilled bin may be uneven in a manner that the switch isn’t triggered.

If these issues aren’t the problem, you need to test the control board.

8. Test the Ice Machine’s Bin Thermostat Probe

Not all commercial ice machines have a bin control switch. Many models contain a bin thermostat probe. A faulty thermostat probe will fail to detect an overloaded bin, and the ice machine won’t stop making ice. Thus, you need to test this thermostat probe.

Here’s an easy way to test a commercial ice machine’s bin thermostat:

  1. Turn off the ice machine and put it in wash mode.
  2. Let the wash cycle run as you load a scoop of ice.
  3. Take the scoop filled with ice to the thermostat probe.
  4. Submerge the thermostat probe into the scoop of ice.
  5. Check if the ice machine’s wash cycle stops or keeps running. 
  6. If the wash cycle stops, the thermostat probe is alright. 
  7. Else, it is broken, but you can take another step to be sure. 
  8. Take the ice scoop away from the thermostat probe.
  9. Touch the probe or sensor with your hands and wait.
  10. If the wash cycle resumes, the thermostat is alright.

Watch this video from 0:28 to 1:25 to learn how to test a commercial ice machine’s bin thermostat:

https://youtu.be/GgATYvvOcVw

The thermostat, sensor, or probe is faulty if it doesn’t respond to the ice scoop or your hand. In that case, the wash cycle will continue to run, implying the ice machine won’t stop making ice. If the thermostat is fine, you may have electrical wiring issues or an inoperative control board. 

Therefore, you need to replace the faulty thermostat, fix the wiring issues, or get a new control board, depending on the causal problem. 

9. Get the Ice Machine’s Control Board Tested

Suppose a commercial ice machine’s bin control switch or thermostat is working as it should. In that case, the problem is probably a faulty control board. Ideally, you should contact the brand or an authorized technician to test the control board and investigate other probable issues.

Final Thoughts

The first thing to do when an ice machine won’t stop making ice is to check the limit sensor. In residential ice makers, the limit sensor is the shut-off arm, bail wire, or lever. Most commercial ice machines have a thermostat or control switch in the bin. Check and fix these components. 

All residential and commercial ice machines have a control board that can go wrong. However, always check the wirings, connections, and other related parts before concluding that you have a broken control board. Usually, a faulty control board is irreparable, and you need to replace it. 

Author

  • Chris Hewitt

    Chris is a Texas-based freelance writer who loves the outdoors and working in his garage. When he's not enjoying the Texas sun, he can be found tinkering with all sorts of things in his workshop.

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