Why Is the Ice Partially Melting in the Automatic Ice Maker Portion of My Freezer

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Dear Heather,

I’m so lucky to have a new refrigerator with water and ice in the door (I have arrived!). Still, in the several months since I got the fridge, the water/ice dispenser has become a little drippy. There is mildew accumulating around the gasket between the actual maker (in the fridge itself) and the door dispenser. There are other issues that I think might be related as well. Just from typing this out, I think the refrigerator door is not level, which would cause the gasket not to be sealed with the icemaker, but can you adjust the doors?

Also, I keep the temp at the manufacturer’s recommendations, and I even turned off the energy saver function to see if it would help, but it has not.

Clumped in Clute

Dear Clumpd in Clute:

Does your refrigerator have a warranty?

If you have any warranty with your new refrigerator, this is worth a service call.  If, however, you purchased your appliance with no warranty for service or parts, continue reading.

Just as a heads up, the troubleshooting process for your automatic ice maker will be a bit involved as it involves two appliances. It helps to consider your automatic ice maker as an appliance within your freezer.

Here’s what you know, the ice maker unit is functioning in that it is making ice, cutting the ice, and attempting to dispense the ice. The problem occurs while the ice is stored, waiting to be dispensed. It sounds as though the problem is not with your ice maker but with your freezer.

You know that the ice is melting partially, creating clumps.

You also know that there is excess humidity in your freezer.

Warm air is causing the ice to melt.

The ice dispenser is at the top of your freezer. Warm air may be somehow entering your appliance and rising, as warm air does. The warm air is then causing your ice to partially melt, creating the ice clumps that the dispenser cannot handle.

Let’s rule out that warm, moist air is not entering your freezer.

Check the flap that seals the chute from the ice dispenser.

Sometimes a clump of ice will prevent the flap from closing securely. It’s also possible that the flap is warped. If this is the case, the flap should be replaced.

Check the freezer’s gasket.

If everything checks out with the flap, it’s time to check the gasket around the freezer door itself. A gasket is a mechanical seal. In this case, it’s the silicone/rubbery bit that seals your freezer door to your freezer. (You clicked on Home-Ec101, not Advanced Home Appliance Repair, remember where you are before behaving rudely).

Grab a crisp dollar bill; shut the bill between the freezer door gasket and the frame. If the bill slides out with no resistance, your gasket is not sealing. If there is resistance, great! That section of your gasket is fine. Start at the top left-most portion of your door and continue checking at points around the perimeter. If there is no point at which the bill slides out easily, chances are it’s not your gasket. However, wiping that gasket with a damp, soapy cloth wouldn’t hurt anything. Then follow with just a damp wipe down. And finally, treat the gasket with silicone lubricant. (You can find this in the automotive section of big box stores.)

Replace the gasket if it isn’t sealing.

If the gasket isn’t sealing, clean it well, lubricate it with silicone lubricant and try again. If it still doesn’t seal the freezer gasket needs to be replaced. Replacing a gasket is a relatively easy fix. Generally, you’ll find the replacement of a gasket goes like this:

  • First, lift the inside of the gasket to reveal the hex nuts underneath.
  • Loosen but don’t remove the hex nuts; remove the gasket and replace it with a new one from your local appliance repair store.
  • Tighten the nuts.
  • Test the seal.
  • Follow the steps in the next section to prepare your freezer and ice maker to go back into regular use.

If the problem was NOT the gasket or flap.

A temporary problem, like an ice cube in the chute flap, may have set you up for this mess. You’ll want to give your ice maker a fresh reset to test this theory.

Prep your icemaker and bin for success.

Turn off your ice maker and freezer.

Remove the ice storage unit from the freezer completely. Wipe down your freezer with a dilute bleach solution to kill any mildew, and then use a few dry cloths to dry your entire freezer. Wash and dry the ice bucket and check for any broken plastic pieces. If everything looks fine, dry the bin thoroughly, and return it to the freezer. Turn the freezer back on and leave it shut for 24 hours. That’s an entire day. Do not open the door, and do not turn on your ice maker. The freezer needs a chance to get back to its optimum temperature.

After 24 hours, open the door and quickly inspect the interior for frost or excess moisture.

If there’s none, great! Turn on your ice maker and return food to the freezer. After each batch of ice gets dumped into the bin, use the ice dispenser to take out a glassful. This will help the bin fill properly and evenly.

If there was frost on the inside of the freezer after the 24-hour stabilization period, your defrost thermostat might be malfunctioning.

This level of fix is beyond the scope of this article and will most likely involve a service call. (This assumption is based on the premise that you are looking for appliance repair advice on Home-Ec101)

The information we’ve gone over will help you know that the appliance repair person is honest. You know the state of your gasket and the ice chute’s flap. You know that your ice maker functions. Go with an appliance repair service recommended by your manufacturer. Generally, you can find these by calling the customer service line in your appliance manual. If you have a bad experience, let the manufacturer know. Please don’t be rude about it, but do share the experience. They can’t know that their recommended companies aren’t trustworthy if they don’t have feedback. You don’t have to be a terrible person about it. It’s not the customer service representative’s fault. They simply answer the phone and aren’t there for your abuse. (I manage a support team, it’s horrific how people behave.)

If you don’t have your manual, search for the model of your appliance along with the brand name, most manufacturers have online versions.

Good luck!

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

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5 thoughts on “Why Is the Ice Partially Melting in the Automatic Ice Maker Portion of My Freezer”

  1. As Heather said, it will be helpful to search online for your appliance’s brand and model, but not just for the manual…look for posts from others who may have had similar problems, as this will help you make a stronger case if you need to “lemon” the unit. Try these keywords: [make] [model] refrigerator ice maker gasket seal door melting leaking mildew (brackets indicate where you insert the specific make and model information, minus the brackets).

    You also might come up with a very quick fix if someone else has solved the problem. A couple of years ago, I installed an oven I had purchased used on Craigslist, and shortly afterward, it started beeping incessantly and displaying an error code. I had no money to pay for a service call, so I searched on the make, model, and problem description (beeping, error code), and found that all I needed to do was open the control panel and clean some contacts. Problem solved for free.

    • Great advice.

      I would add though, when you do those searches go to several forums. Sometimes there are people who aren’t giving safe or quality advice. Generally though, if you see it vetted in a couple of cases AND it follows general safety guidelines you’ll be fine.

  2. thanks. your article put me onto the right track to fix this ice-melting-in-the-reservoir problem in my Frigidaire/Kenmore side-by-side, with in-the-door ice dispenser.

    I used a flashlight and looked up at the outside of the flap-door, and sure enough it was gaping open by about 3/8 of an inch or so. Pushing against it would close it, but it would spring right back open, so something was wrong with the whole flap-door mechanism.

    Fiddling round a bit, I found that the clear plastic ice shoot had become dislodged, so the shoot wan’t being held in place like it should by having its top wedged behind the back of the top of the bezel that surrounds the whole exterior dispenser unit. Turns out the wedged shoot is what holds the entire flap-door mechanism in place and that was why the flap-door wasn’t shutting all the way. As soon as I snapped the clear plastic ice shoot back into place, the flap-door worked perfectly!


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