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

Portable ice makers are fantastic. I love my portable ice maker, and I wouldn't know what 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.

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

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.

A small paddle pushes the ice into the ice bucket, and there it waits to be used.

That’s how portable ice makers make ice. It’s simple, right?

As the ice melts, it lands in the water reservoir where it is used to make more ice. Portable ice makers have an excellent design so that you never need to use 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. You can use a portable ice maker for camping or taking with you on your RV - they are great.

Now that you understand how ice is produced using a portable ice maker, this should help you to know how to troubleshoot your ice maker if it stops making ice.

In this post, I want to look at different problems your portable ice maker may face and how you can troubleshoot each problem. 

MY PORTABLE ICE MAKER WON'T POWER 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. I know this sounds a little 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 that it's receiving power.

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

The very first step in troubleshooting a portable ice maker is to make sure that your ice maker has power.

MY PORTABLE ICE MAKER WON'T MAKE ICE

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.

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 and where the water is pumped into the small tray at the top of your ice maker 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. Sometimes debris can plug this hole and stop the water from being pumped up to the small holding tray. 

If there is no water for those freon dips to be submerged into, then you're not going to have any ice.

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

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 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 may not reach its objective if the water pump is damaged in your portable ice maker.

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 water sensor.

I advise that you take some time and clean your unit. Make sure that there is no debris or anything that would interfere with the sensor in any way. The water sensor located on the bottom of the water reservoir tells your ice maker that you need to add water. If this sensor fails or is interfered with, than 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 made enough ice and that you need to empty the storage basket.

If the storage sensor fails, then your machine will not function.

My very first ice maker would not make ice because it thought that the basket was full of ice (Spoiler alert, the basket was empty). The sensor failed, and so I could not proceed to the next stage of making ice. 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 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 you have 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.

PORTABLE ICE MAKER IS MAKING A LOUD NOISE

Most portable ice makers will have noise. You are going to hear the sound of the pump drawing in water and the compressor​.

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 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 want to make sure that you deal with it properly.

It's 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 your ice maker. When dirt forms on the inside walls of your ice maker, it ends up in the water and eventually into the ice.

It's best to keep it clean, this will not only give you fresher ice, but also protect your machine from damage in the future.

ICE IS NOT EJECTING

If you notice that ice isn't 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. If the sweeper isn't working correctly, then this would be the reason for you ice not getting dumped into the storage bucket.

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.

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 formed 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 are used a lot in home bars. 

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 our best to help you make an informed decision before you make a purchase. Over the years of running this website, we have learned a lot and we’re excited to share that knowledge with you. The article you just read is just a small sample of the work that we have been doing over the last several years.

8 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.

    • 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.

  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.

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