How to Connect a Refrigerator to the Water Supply Line

Written by steve hamilton
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How to Connect a Refrigerator to the Water Supply Line
Water and ice dispensers are a handy feature. (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Modern refrigerators are available with chilled water dispensers and ice-makers that can deliver ice, crushed or cubed, right into your waiting glass. Other than plugging it in, all these dispensers need is water. You can connect a refrigerator to a water supply line with a few simple tools and an installation kit. If your pipes are copper, consider swapping the troublesome saddle valve in the kit for a component that better suits your application.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Ice-maker installation kit
  • Compression T-fitting
  • Felt tip marker
  • Pipe cutter
  • Reamer
  • Steel wool or emery cloth
  • Adjustable wrenches
  • Plumber's tape
  • Drill
  • 1/4-inch copper tubing
  • Tubing supports (optional)

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  1. 1

    Decide on the best place to connect to an existing water supply line. Make sure you have adequate access to the pipe. Plan the location of any holes or supports necessary to run copper tubing to the refrigerator.

  2. 2

    Check the size of the supply line. Use the supply line size and the 1/4-inch shut-off valve from the kit to help you buy the correct size compression T-fitting. Remove the access panel at the rear of the refrigerator and inspect the water inlet. Make sure that one of the compression fittings included with the kit will work, or purchase one that fits.

  3. 3

    Turn off the water to the existing supply line. Hold the compression T-fitting up to the pipe and mark cut lines for both sides of the T. Place a bucket under the pipe. Cut the pipe at the marks. Ream both cut ends, then clean them with steel wool or emery cloth.

  4. 4

    Slip a compression nut and ferrule onto each of the cut ends of the pipe. Install the compression T-fitting between the ends, using one wrench to hold the fitting and another to tighten the compression nuts. Make sure you orient the T for easy installation of the copper tubing.

  5. 5

    Wrap five turns of plumber's tape around the shut-off valve supplied with the kit. Thread the valve into the T-fitting and tighten it with a wrench. Be sure to leave the valve opening turned the right way to receive the tubing. Close the valve and restore water to the existing supply line. Check for leaks. Hold a bucket under the valve and open it to flush debris from the line. Close the valve.

  6. 6

    Drill any holes necessary to run copper tubing from the valve to the refrigerator. Run the tubing though the holes, and attach any necessary supports. Leave plenty of extra tubing so you can move the refrigerator around for service or cleaning.

  7. 7

    Check the ends of the tubing to make sure they are clean and cut square. Slip a compression nut and ferrule onto the end of the tubing at the shut-off valve. Insert the tubing into the valve compression fitting and tighten. Attach a fitting to the refrigerator water inlet if necessary. Slip a compression nut and ferrule onto the end of the tubing and insert it into the inlet fitting. Tighten the nut.

  8. 8

    Open the ice-maker supply valve and check for leaks. Make sure there is an adequate flow of water to the ice-maker and/or water dispenser.

Tips and warnings

  • Ice-maker kits usually come with a saddle T-fitting for attaching the water valve. They are the simplest solution for galvanised pipe. However, they are prone to leaks and some plumbing codes don't allow them.
  • It's a good idea to run water through the dispenser for a minute to flush out manufacturing debris. You should also discard the first two or three batches of ice.

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