If your refrigerator has an icemaker, water dispenser or both, it will have a shut off valve to help you turn on and off water supply during repairs. This eliminates the need to turn off water supply to the entire house which can be very inconveniencing.
When you notice water pooling at the bottom of the refrigerator, you need to instantly turn off the water supply to it by turning the shut off valve clockwise. Before then, you will need to first locate the shut off valve.
A refrigerator water line shut off valve is located under the kitchen skin, on the wall behind it, in the crawl space or in the basement where a 1/4-inch water line is connected to the cold water line. Turn the knob or the way clockwise or perpendicular to the water pipe if you have a lever.
The 1/4-inch refrigerator water supply line should ideally guide you to where the valve is located. This water line will usually be made from copper or a plastic material and is always flexible to help you move the fridge about without putting tension on it.
If you however need to replace the refrigerator’s water line shut off valve, you will have to shut off water to the entire house. Again, you will also need to know where the main house shut off valve is located.
The main house water shut off valve is located in the basement near the water heater or in the crawl space, garage, or laundry room. If you live in a warmer area, the shut off valve will be located on an external wall where the main water line enters the house.
This will be on the wall facing the street. Water to the house can also be turned off from the meter shut off valve. The water meter is usually located near the curb or sidewalk very close to the street inside a concrete box with a plastic or metallic cover.
The following are the steps to follow to turn off water to your refrigerator’s icemaker or water dispenser:
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.