Locating and turning off the refrigerator line shut-off valve is essential for maintenance, repairs, or if you need to move or replace your refrigerator. Here are the steps to do it:
- Locate the Shut-Off Valve: The shut-off valve for the refrigerator water line is typically located behind or beneath the refrigerator, either on the wall or floor. It may also be in an adjacent cabinet.
- Clear the Area: Before accessing the valve, move any objects or appliances that might be obstructing your path.
- Identify the Valve Type: There are two common types of shut-off valves for refrigerator water lines:
- Saddle Valve: This type of valve is clamped onto the water supply line and typically has a small, circular handle. To turn it off, rotate the handle clockwise until it’s perpendicular to the water supply line.
- Inline Valve: An inline valve is a more traditional shut-off valve, resembling a lever or wheel. Turn the lever or wheel clockwise to shut off the water.
- Turn Off the Valve: Using your hand, a wrench, or pliers, turn the valve clockwise until it’s fully closed. This action stops the flow of water to the refrigerator.
- Check for Water Flow: To ensure the valve is closed, dispense water from the refrigerator’s water dispenser. If no water comes out, the valve is successfully closed.
- Disconnect the Water Line (If Needed): If you need to disconnect the water line from the refrigerator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific model. Typically, you’ll need to release any quick-connect fittings or screws holding the line in place.
- Complete Your Task: Perform the necessary maintenance, repair, or refrigerator replacement.
- Turn On the Valve: Once you’ve completed your task, return to the shut-off valve and turn it counterclockwise to reopen it. Ensure it’s fully open to restore water flow.
- Check for Leaks: After reopening the valve, inspect the water line and connections for any signs of leaks. Tighten connections if necessary.
- Cleanup: Clear the area around the refrigerator and ensure it’s properly repositioned.
1. Locate the Shut off Valve
The first thing you need to do before turning off water to the refrigerator is to turn off the icemaker. This will prevent it from cycling on an off and cause damage to the valve.
After turning off the icemaker, grab the refrigerator and pull it gently forward. The water supply line is connected to the fridge at the rear and this will help you to quickly locate the valve.
If you are lucky, the shut off valve will be located on a wall-recessed box at the back of the fridge. The box may sometimes be covered using a plastic or metal guard. Use a screwdriver to remove the guard and reveal the valve.
If the valve is not behind the refrigerator, check how the water supply line is installed. If it runs through a hole in a side cabinet, it means the valve is found under the kitchen sink inside the cabinet.
On the other hand, if the water supply line runs through a hole on the floor, it means the valve is located in the basement (usually at the top very close to the basement ceiling). Refrigerators water line shut off valves are always located on the cold water pipe.
What Does a Refrigerator Shut Off Valve Look Like?
There are several shut off valves and water supply lines under the kitchen sink. You will have the usual cold and hot water shut off valves and water lines to the faucet and even more valves if you have a dishwasher and refrigerator as well.
It is however easy to identify the refrigerator line shut off valve since it will be connected to the cold water pipe and also to the copper or plastic line which also runs to the back of the refrigerator.
Most refrigerators water lines are installed on a saddle valve. A saddle valve is named as such since it looks like a horse’s saddle and fits over the water pipe the way a saddle fits over the back of a horse.
Saddle valves are usually clamped on the cold water pipe nearest to the refrigerator. Since originally refrigerators didn’t need a shut off valve, a hole is usually drilled through the floor or on a side cabinet where the water line is fed through.
The good thing about installing a saddle valve is that you do not need to cut or solder the water pipe. The valve handle is tightened until it pieces through the water pipe.
Self-piercing saddle valves are designed to be used with copper or brass pipes. If you have PEX water pipes self-piercing saddles valves are out of the question.
Apart from saddle valves, you could also have the usual compression shut off valves which have an oval knob handle. During the installation of these valves, the cold water pipe is cut then a tee is soldered on it to enable water to flow to the refrigerator and elsewhere in the house.
2. Turn off the Water Supply
Once you have located the shut off valve, you will only need to turn the handle all the clockwise to turn off water to the refrigerator. If the valve has not been operated for a long time, turning it will not be easy.
You can grab it with a pair of pliers and gently try to turn it. If it will still not turn easily and you suspect you might break it just leave it. Consider turning off water to the whole house from the main house shut off valve.
Note: If your refrigerator’s shut off valve is in the basement, you may need a ladder to access especially if you have an unfinished basement. As I had already mentioned, the valve will be located at the very top where the water pipes are.
Once in the basement, finding the shut off is easy. It will most likely be locates directly blow the refrigerator.