How Do Ice Makers Work?

In the early part of the 1900’s, the only way to get ice was to have it delivered to your home in a big block. It would be placed in the ice box (which is where the term for a refrigerator comes form) to keep your food cold. When the ice melted, you had to have another block delivered. When the refrigerator became available to consumers, they all had a small freezer at the top. To get ice you had to fill trays full of water and put them in the freezer until they froze. Woe be to the person who used up all the ice but didn’t fill up the trays again.

So you can see just how convenient modern day ice makers are. You no longer have to keep filling up trays or cracking the ice cubes yourself. You don’t have to pay for an expensive block to be delivered once a week. Ice makers are simple, easy, and do all the work for you. But how do ice makers work? How do they get water? What causes the water to freeze? If you ever wanted to know the basics of ice makers, here is how they work.

How Does It Get Water

When your refrigerator is installed in your kitchen, there is a water line that is hooked directly to the back of it. The line, which is either copper or plastic tubing, may go under the kitchen sink or directly into the wall. Water travels through the line and into the ice maker. The water line connects to the water inlet valve, which controls the flow of water into the ice maker. When the ice maker needs more water, the inlet valve on the unit receives an electrical current. This triggers the solenoid on the valve and allows water to flow through the outbound water line, into the freezer, and into the ice maker.

How Does It Freeze

Inside the ice maker is an ice mold similar to the flexible plastic ice trays you put in the freezer. Once the mold is full of water, the freezing process begins. The ice maker does not actually freeze the water into ice. The refrigerator’s coolant system does that. There is a thermostat built into the ice maker which monitors the temperature of the ice. Once the ice reaches a certain level in temperature (approximately 10 degrees Fahrenheit) the thermostat closes a switch in the electrical circuit which triggers a heating element.

How Icemakers Make Ice Cubes

Style: "Porcelain vivid"

There is a small electrical heating coil under the ice mold. After the water has frozen into ice, the heating element starts up. The heating element melts the ice at the bottom of the tray enough to loosen up the separate cubes from the mold. Next, an electrical circuit activates the icemaker’s motor. The motor spins and rotates a gear which is attached to a long plastic shaft. This shaft has several ejector blades sticking out from it. When the shaft spins, the ejector blades revolve and scoop the block of ice cubes up and out of the mold. The cubes get pushed to the front fo the ice maker in one unit because they are still connected to each other. There are nothces that line up with the ice cubes to break them apart into individual cubes. From there the cubes fall into the collection pan at the bottom of the ice maker. That’s how icemakers make ice cubes.

Once the ice in the mold has been ejected and pushed intot he collection pan, an electrical switch is triggered and the inlet valve opens up to fill up the ice mold again and the cycle starts over. If the collection pan is full, it prevents the switch from being triggered as it interrupts the cycle. That way your ice maker doesn’t overflow with too much ice. When you are ready for some ice, all you do is press the button on the front of the refrigerator and individual ice cubes fall out of the dispensor.