Portable Ice Maker Won’t Make Ice: Troubleshooting Your Problem

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Portable ice makers are fantastic. I love my portable ice maker, and I wouldn’t know what to do if it all of a sudden it stopped making ice. I’m just saying that our mealtimes wouldn’t be the same. The good news for people who have a portable ice maker that has stopped making ice is that they are not complicated to understand.

Understanding your ice maker is where troubleshooting begins.

HOW PORTABLE ICE MAKERS WORK

Portable Ice makers aren’t overly complicated.

Check out my top portable ice makers this year by clicking here.

Water is pumped into a small tray where freon points are dipped into water.

How to troubleshoot a portable ice maker

The water begins to freeze around these points and form bullet-shaped ice.

Once the ice gets to the desired size, the water is drained from the tray, and the ice is dropped.

Bullet ice from a portable ice maker

A small paddle pushes the ice into the ice bucket, where it’s ready to be used.

Not all portable ice makers produce bullet-shaped ice. Some portable ice makers produce clear ice or nugget ice. You can learn more about the different types of ice in an article I wrote here.

That’s how portable ice makers make ice. It’s simple, right? As the ice melts, it drips back into the water reservoir where it’s used to make more ice. Portable ice makers have an excellent design so that you never need drainage hoses or water lines. This design makes them truly portable because all you need is a power outlet and some water and you can start to make ice.

Portable ice makers have so many uses, and because they are portable are not just limited to your home. You can use a portable ice maker for camping or take it with you on your RV – they are great!

Now that you understand how ice is produced using a portable ice maker, this should help us in troubleshooting your ice maker if it stops making ice.

We’re going to look at different problems with portable ice makers and how to troubleshoot the issue.

MY PORTABLE ICE MAKER WON’T POWER ON

Here are some common reasons why a portable ice maker will not turn on.

IS IT GETTING POWER AND/OR TURNED ON?

The first thing you need to do before trying any other troubleshooting steps is making sure you have power to your machine.

Make sure that it’s plugged in, and that it’s turned on.

Portable Ice maker won't turn on

I know this sounds elementary, but you’d be surprised how many portable ice makers return to functionality by just flicking a breaker or turning on a button. Maybe you have to check the power receptacle or use another outlet to ensure it’s receiving power.

Make sure your portable ice maker has power

If your ice maker is getting power, and it’s turned on, then you can move to the next steps.

Reset Your Portable Ice Maker

Check to see if the portable ice maker that you own has a manual reset button. Some units have fuses or breakers built in the unit. If this breaker is tripped or fuse is burnt out, then it will have to be reset.

To find out if your portable ice maker has a reset button, check your owners manual.

Control Board is Busted

On a more serious note, it could be that the control board on the ice maker is damaged and won’t properly power up the ice maker. In this case, my advise would be to purchase a new portable ice maker or contact a specialist who can repair it.

MY PORTABLE ICE MAKER WON’T MAKE ICE

If you portable ice maker won’t make ice, then take the following steps to troubleshoot the issue.

MAKE SURE THAT YOUR ICE MAKER IS GETTING WATER

One of the most common causes for portable ice makers not making ice is it’s not getting any water.

This may be an issue with the pump, a plugged water pipe on the bottom of the ice maker, or calcium buildup.

My first step would be to do a thorough cleaning of ice portable ice maker.

MAKE SURE IT ISN’T PLUGGED

At the bottom of the water reservoir, you are going to notice a small hole.

This small hole is the water intake valve, where the water is pumped into the small tray at the top of your ice maker. At the top is where the freon points are submerged in water. You want to make sure that this small hole isn’t plugged, and that water is getting to where it needs to be. It goes without saying that if that water cannot be pumped from the water reservoir to the cup at the top, then you’re not going to have a lot of ice.

This also may be the reason why your ice pieces are not as large as they ought to be. A really good cleaning of your ice maker is the logical plan of action.

Check to see if this small tray is filled with water. If there’s no water in this small tray then you know that something is plugged, stopping the water’s flow.

You will also hear the plump winding, trying to pump the water. If the pump is working hard and the water reservoir is full of water – you have an issue and I would guess it’s plugged.

MAKE SURE THE WATER SUPPLY ISN’T PLUGGED

If you do not have a portable ice maker, and your ice maker has a water hose (direct water), then you want to make sure that this hose isn’t pinched, cut, or frozen. Make sure that water is reaching its destination.

You may have to remove the back of your portable ice maker to get to the water hose and see if it’s not cut or blocked. A hint that your water supply is plugged is you begin to notice leakage from your machine.

Important: If you see water around your unit, first check to make sure that the plug is in the water reservoir isn’t loose or missing. If the water plug is secure, then make sure you check all water connections.

DAMAGED WATER PUMP

Water won’t flow if the water pump is damaged in your portable ice maker. When there is a small issue, like a plugged line, the water pump works harder to get the water where it needs to be. This results in the water pump burning out over time and a bigger mess on your hands.

Typically, if the problem is because of a damaged water pump, I would replace the unit with a newer model. You can check out a great selection of portable ice maker reviews to help you choose a new unit.

WATCH YOUR WATER LEVELS

Make sure that your ice maker has enough water. If you hear a whining sound from your ice maker, then it’s probably your pump trying to get water. Add more water into your unit, and it should return to normal.

If your ice maker uses a water line (direct water), make sure that the water is flowing freely and that water is reaching your machine.

ICE MAKER SENSORS ARE NOT WORKING 

Portable ice makers that two sensors that help it to be more efficient.

If your unit is not making ice it may because there is something wrong with the one of those sensors.

I advise that you take some time and clean your portable ice maker. Make sure that there’s no debris or anything that would interfere with the sensors in any way.

The water sensor located on the bottom of the water reservoir tells your ice maker that it needs more water. If this sensor fails or is interfered with then it could be the reason your ice maker isn’t making ice.

Another sensor to be aware of is the storage sensor. This sensor tells you that your ice maker has a full storage basket and that you need to empty the storage basket before it continue making ice. If the storage sensor fails, then your machine will not function.

The first ice maker stopped one day and always showed the “ice full” indicator light on. I tried everything to fix the issue; I found out later that the sensors were damaged and that it would be way too much money to correct the problem.

I was forced to replace the ice maker because of this problem. If your “Ice Full” indicator light is on or “fill water” indicator light is on, and it is obviously wrong, it may be bad news. Try to reset the ice maker (if it has a reset option), or clean it, but it may be a sensor failure.

Sometimes the “fill water” light will be on even though the water is filled because the water is too pure and there are not enough minerals in the water for the sensor to detect. Try adding a pinch of salt to the water (which will add some minerals) to help the machine detect the water.

THE ROOM IS TOO WARM

Portable Ice makers are designed to work in rooms that are at room temperature.

If your ice maker goes through the ice-making process, but there is no ice in the end, it may be because your room is too warm​.

If a room is too hot, your ice will melt before you can enjoy it. If this is the problem, then you need to move your ice maker to a room with a more moderate temperature.

When the room is too warm, the ice will melt into smaller pieces of ice. You’ll open the lid to get ice and it will be all slushy and small.

YOUR PORTABLE ICE MAKER IS MAKING A LOUD NOISE OR A KNOCKING SOUND

Most portable ice makers will make noise (some louder than others). You’re going to hear the sound of the pump drawing in water and the compressor​ as the ice maker continues through the ice cycle.

If your portable ice maker is making more noise than usual then try giving this a try. 

Make sure that your unit is level. An unlevel machine could cause more noise than necessary.

If you hear a loud knocking or metallic pinging, then this could be the compressor inside your ice maker. If your portable ice maker is under warranty, then you need to call customer support or return it for another one.

YOUR ICE AND/OR ICE MAKER SMELLS OR YOUR ICE TASTES BAD

If you have a problem with smelly Ice, then it means your ice machine needs a good cleaning. Mold inside your unit can cause a lot of health problems, so you need to make sure that you deal with it properly.

It’s a good practice to make sure that your ice maker is cleaned at least every three weeks to make sure that dirt and debris are removed, and that mold doesn’t begin to form.

It’s incredible how much dirt begins to form inside a portable ice maker. When dirt forms on the inside walls of your ice maker, it ends up in the water and eventually into the ice.

Keeping your unit clean will not only give you fresher ice but also protect your machine from damage in the future.

PORTABLE ICE MAKER’S ICE IS NOT EJECTING

If you notice that ice isn’t being dumped into the storage basket, it could be two possible reasons.

It could be a faulty sweeper. The sweeper is what pushes the ice into the storage tray. Faulty sweepers will have to be replaced by a professional. You could also make sure that the sweeper isn’t loose or something isn’t blocking it.

I would suggest checking for loose wires or corroded parts. If you cannot find anything that would indicate a failed component, then I would call support.

Another reason why your ice isn’t ending up in the storage basket is that of a faulty ejecting element. Again, look for loose wires. If you cannot find a reason for it not to be working, call customer support, or return the ice maker.

A QUICK GUIDE TO TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR PORTABLE ICE MAKER

If you are looking to troubleshoot any portable ice maker, we have created an easy cheat sheet to help you.

A Quick Guide To Troubleshoot Your Portable Ice Maker

A Quick Guide To Troubleshoot Your Portable Ice Maker

We have put together a list of steps for you to begin if your ice maker isn’t working correctly.

1. Check all connections

If you portable ice maker isn’t working the way that it should, it’s making noise or doing something that isn’t normal. I would begin with checking electrical connections, your outlet or breaker.

2. Check the Water Supply 

Make sure that your portable ice maker has enough water and that water is being supplied to your machine. Most portable ice makers will shut off automatically when the water level is low or the ice storage bin is full.

3. Check the Ice Level

If you have too much ice in your ice maker, this will set off the sensor and shut down the unit. I would suggest checking the ice level or cleaning the ice level sensor.

4. Give the Unit a Good Cleaning

Ice makers get dirty over time. The dirt and grime that’s forms inside your ice maker will affect the taste of the ice and the performance of the unit. Take some time and clean the unit thoroughly. Cleaning your ice maker should improve the performance.

5. Check for Leaks

Take some time and check for coolant or water leaks. If you notice a coolant leak, you should have your ice maker serviced by a professional.

Conclusion

Ice makers are great.

It’s hard when they don’t work the way that they ought.

Sometimes portable ice makers get worn out, and the time is right to replace them.

When that time comes, we have put together a great list of the best portable ice makers on the market today.

We also created a great list of clear ice makers. Gourmet ice has a lot of benefits and is used for home bars, restaurants, and businesses. 

If you have any questions about troubleshooting your portable ice maker, you can add your questions or comments below.

Ice Maker Geeks are ice enthusiasts that review ice-making appliances, research ice-related topics, and do their best to help you make an informed decision before you make a purchase. Over the years of running this website, they have learned a lot and are excited to share that knowledge with you. The article you just read is just a small sample of the work that they have been doing over the last several years.

32 Comments
  1. My frigidaire portable ice machine is not freezing ice everything else work it’s only runs but it doesn’t freeze please help

    • Hey Laura,

      Unfortunately, that sounds like a compressor problem. If the ice maker is under warranty, I would contact the manufacturer right away and have them take a look at the problem. If the ice maker is older, then it’s probably time to purchase an new ice maker. I would recommend checking out our comprehensive buyers guide.

  2. Reply
    Trevor Valentine, Melbourne August 18, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    Could you please tell me where in Melbourne I could take by portable icemaker to have it repaired. The shop in Dandenong is useless as their opening shot is $85 and then they charge you for finding, repairing the machine , which could work out rather expensive. I would appreciate any help. I am a pensioner and for obvious reasons I cannot pay large sums of money. Thank you.

    • Hello, I have an Igloo counter top ice maker. The water tray seemed to lock up so I replaced the tray motor and it appeared to start working again but after 3 ice making cycles it just stops producing. I reset and the same thing happens. Any other ideas?

      • This is a difficult one to diagnose. In my experience, it would seem that the ice maker control board has malfunctioned and it’s not allowing it to complete the cycle. Depending on the age of the unit, it may be time for a replacement.

    • Hey Trevor, thanks for reaching out to icemakergeeks.com.

      I am not familiar of any shops in Melbourne that can repair your ice maker. Depending on the type of ice maker that you have replacing it is often the best solution. I would suggest calling up some local repair shops and ask them if they will diagnose the problem for free. This way you can determine if repairing it is worth your money.

      • My ice maker full light is on but its no ice in the tray and is not making any why what is wrong

        • Sounds like your sensor malfunctioned. I would do a thorough cleaning of the unit with something that will dissolve any hard water. If that doesn’t solve the problem, I suggest you purchase a new ice maker.

      • My portable frigidaire icemaker only uses 4 of its 9 fingers to make ice. 2 of those 4 make normal sized ice while the other 2 make smaller ice cubes. I’m guessing that the coolant isn’t reaching all of the fingers, but I’m not sure. What could be the issue, and how can I fix it? Thanks.

        • It sounds like either two things to me. That the compressor isn’t working correctly or there is something malfunctioning with a sensor. If it’s the compressor I would advise you purchase a new ice maker. You can give it a good cleaning to see if a sensor is dirty and not working right.

  3. hello there I have an ice maker which has power going to it the paddle seems to be working but the water does not go to the ice bars

  4. My machine won’t fully turn to hold the water to freeze. I tried the ten second trick. I get one tray of ice then machine won’t fully turn to restart the freezing again

    • This sounds like the board of the unit is faulty. If your ice maker is under warranty then you need to have it sent away for repairs. If your ice maker is not under warranty then I suggest that you begin to look for a new unit. You can check out our comprehensive buyers guide.

      • My Frigidaire model efic-108 portable Ice maker is not taking water into the reservoir, Any suggestions ? Thanks in advance….

        • It sounds like the pump has failed. I suggest you purchase a new unit. You can check out our top choices here.

  5. How do I know if my compressor , on my portable ice maker is the problem that it’s not working ? Shuts down right away after I started it up .

  6. How to you troubleshoot a compressor and replace it on a counter top Frigidaire Ice Maker?

  7. Whynter ice maker. Paddle retracts and drops ice but does not come back to catch the water. Any help would be appreciated.

  8. My Frigidaire counter top ice maker’s water tray wiil not return to the proper position to catch the water to fill for freezing into cubes

    • Make sure nothing is causing it to stick. It may also be good to give it a good cleaning, as well as descale the unit.

  9. My counter top Frigidaire ice maker power light blinks but won’t power on to start. I tried holding the power button to restart but it does nothing. What’s wrong and how do I fix it?

    • I know how frustrating that can be. I am not sure how old this ice maker is, but it sounds like something only a professional can fix. I would start by cleaning the unit with a descaling solution. It’s hard to diagnoses it online, but something like that sounds like an electronic issue that is probably not worth fixing. You may want to consider purchasing a new unit instead of the money you’d pay to fix it. You can check out my top choices for a portable ice make here.

  10. When powered on My Frigidaire countertop ice maker tray goes through several back and forth movements and then stops in the empty position and never calls for water.

    • This sounds like a malfunction in the mechanics of the ice maker. It’s difficult to completely diagnoses the issue with your Frigidaire countertop ice maker, but in our experience, it’s too much to repair. You’re better to purchase a new one (Get our top countertop ice makers here). You could try to reset the unit, if there is a reset button on your model. Best of luck.

  11. Do I need to keep ice maker plugged in when not in use?

  12. We have a brand new Costway ice maker and it works fine I guess. Can you tell me why the ice sticks together when we put it in the freezer. Thank you, Kay

    • The ice in the ice maker doesn’t have a freezer, so it’s slowly melting. When you throw that ice in the freezer, that melted ice freezes again, and sticks to the other pieces of ice. You can just break the ice by dropping the bag of ice on the ground or hit it with a mallet.

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