GE ice maker slowing down.

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  #1  
Old 09-28-06, 04:46 PM
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GE ice maker slowing down.

I have a 10 year old GE side by side and the ice maker is slowing down on production. If I completly empty it it will take 2-3 days to remake whereas it use to do it over night.

I have noticed that after it dumps a load of ice it may be 5-10 mins before it refills with water. I don't know if the two are related.

What is my ailment?

Thanks for any and all help.
 
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  #2  
Old 09-29-06, 09:40 AM
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oneshotman,

Before you begin troubleshooting the icemaker, make sure that your freezer is cold enough. Have you turned the temperature up lately? Does ice cream get good and firm?

The temperature, which is measured in the tray, is what triggers an icemaker cycle. When it gets down to a certain temperature, much colder than 32deg. by the way, the cycle begins. The extractor begins to rotate while a heater warms the tray. The extractor pushes the cubes out, then the water valve lets water in for the next batch. Nothing more will happen until the temperature decreases enough to kick the cycle off again.

Good luck,
 
  #3  
Old 09-29-06, 10:42 AM
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Thanks for the info but the freezer part is working just fine.

Is there a timer on there to tell it when to empty?
 
  #4  
Old 09-29-06, 11:11 AM
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No timer at all. It is triggered strictly by temperature. This temperature, I believe, is about 10-15 degrees F, a lot colder than it takes to make ice. This problem is quite common. The only way to rule it out is to actually check the temperature with a thermometer. As I mentioned earlier, ice cream should be hard. However, some ice cream today isn't really ice CREAM, so that's not a very scientific test.

You have to be sure it's not a temperature problem before you pull your hair out. If the temperature is above the threshold, the ice maker will never dump ice. If it's close, it will take a long time since the rate of temperature change is affected by the difference between the source (the ambient freezer temperature) and the target temperature (the icemaker sensor set point).

All that said, you could also have a problem with the icemaker, but you have to start somewhere.

Good luck,
 
  #5  
Old 09-29-06, 04:44 PM
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Thanks for the info, I will check on it some more.

This may have nothing to do with the above problem but I have noticed from time to time that at any given time it will call for water to the ice maker but for a very small amount. e.g. to fill up after emptying the ice it may run for 5 seconds to refill, this will be maybe a 1 second shot of water.

Are the two related?
 
  #6  
Old 09-29-06, 06:01 PM
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oneshotman,

Don't quite know if they are related, but one thing is certain, the length of time the ice maker "calls" for water should be perfectly constant, time after time. A 1 second shot of water would certainly be and indication of a problem. This timing is a determined by an electric motor and a microswitch. The amount of water that enters the tray during this time is a function of water pressure and volume. If the time the valve is open is not consistent, then you very well could have an ice maker problem. Please observe closely and let us know what you see.

However, please make sure your temperature is ok. I have had more service calls for this problem than any other that I can think of for ice maker issues.
 
  #7  
Old 09-30-06, 10:38 AM
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It appears that you may have hit the nail on the head. I don't have a thermometer to check the temp. with but I did feel the frozen stuff and if did feel "frozen".

I did notice that the shelf below the ice maker was packed full with stuff all the way to the bottom of the ice maker. I have begged the wife over and over again not to pack the freezer so full, to carry it downstairs to the chest freezer. Needless to say that aint happening.

Anyway last night I emptied the shelf about half way and it made ice last night at a faster rate than it has all week.

I will keep an eye on it.

Thanks a million.
 
  #8  
Old 09-30-06, 12:27 PM
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Thanks for feedback. Hope you found the culprit.
 
  #9  
Old 10-03-06, 05:05 PM
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New problem!

Saturday night/ Sunday it worked great. Made more ice than it has in a while. Went to get some out this morning and it was still low from the night before. All day today it didn't make any.

Any suggestions????

I don't know if this ties into it or not but when I get ice out I take the entire try out. When I do I lift the lever so it won't dump ice while the tray is out. Could the switch that this lever works be bad?
 
  #10  
Old 10-04-06, 04:19 AM
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oneshotman,

The switch could cause this problem since it's whole function in life is to keep the ice maker from making ice. However, although freezer temperature seems less likely to be the problem than it did before your weekend experience I still wouldn't rule it out completely. You could have refrigeration or defrost problems that could cause inconsistent temperature. Cold controls (thermostats) can become erratic. I would pick an inexpensive thermometer and check it out before I started buying parts.

Their are several things that could be causing the problem if not temperature...the switch mentioned above, the temperature sensor, connectors, wiring....you name it. Troubleshooting an ice maker can be loads of fun. If it boils down to checking out these devices, let us know.
 
  #11  
Old 10-04-06, 05:30 AM
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Thanks Randy,

I am gonna borrow a digital thermometer from work that has a flexiable lead that I can put in the freeze and read the temp from outside.

IF the temp is ok what do I look at first?
 
  #12  
Old 10-04-06, 06:31 AM
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I've been retired from the business for quite a few years but, hopefully, things haven't changed all that much. There are several ways to test switches and thermostats, depending your equipment and skill level.

Do you have a volt/ohmeter? If so, are you comfortable using it? If you don't have one, then you can "simulate" a switch closure with a jumper wire. I user prefabricated clip leads for this. Jumping switches that are live can be dangerous and again, if you don't have any experience at this, don't try it. Alot of how this has to happen depends on accessibility of the test points. If you are uncomfortable around electricity, you should unplug the fridge and test with an ohmeter or continuity tester of some sort. These things are very cheap at any of the big box stores and can come in really handy.

If you get to this point, post back and we'll try to figure out where to go next.
 
  #13  
Old 10-04-06, 07:45 AM
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I know enough to get myself in trouble. But my neighbor is an electrician and he will help me out if I need him. I know how to check but not where/what to check.

Thanks again for you help.

John
 
  #14  
Old 10-04-06, 09:22 AM
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Good deal. You neighbor will probably know how to do what you need to do, but one of the best ways to check a switch or simple thermostat when the circuit is live is to measure the voltage across the switch, one lead on each side of the switch.

When the switch is closed (on), the voltage across the switch will be zero. When open (off), you will read the voltage applied to the circuit (unless there is another switch somewhere in series with it that happens to be off). This will probably be 120VAC.

Since the switch that is actuated by the lever you referred to earlier should be on when down (closed), the voltage across the switch should be zero....120VAC when the lever is up. If it is zero in both positions, then there is either another switch open or some other problem. Go on to the next device...probably the thermostat.

Hope this helps.
 
  #15  
Old 10-04-06, 03:44 PM
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Randy you are the Master.

Of course I forgot the thermometer from work today. I was moving some stuff in the freezer to make room for some ice trays and toward the back I picked up a container of fruit and it was soft. (about like ice cream, soft enough to squeeze)

Anyway I took off the back panel and the front panel and blew out about 3 gallons of dust. I had heard that dust will keep it from cooling.

After spending an hour cleaning the entire kitchen and dining room its almost supper time. LOL

If this does not fix it is the theromstat the next thing to look at? The fridge is running and seems to be cooling but evidently it was before but just barely.

Do fridges ever need freon?

Thanks for your help.

John
 
  #16  
Old 10-05-06, 04:37 AM
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oneshotman,

Now we're getting into more difficult territory. You have heard that dust will keep it from cooling. It's definitely true. Do refrigerators ever need freon? Well, if they don't leak, they never need freon. It's the last thing I would suspect at this time.

Unless things have changed since I worked on these things, the defrost system would be my next guess. The cold control could also be bad, as I said earlier.

There are a couple of simple tests you can try to help determine if the sealed system is ok. First, the condensor coils ( you just blew them out) should be giving off a significant amount of heat while the compressor is running. If you can get to them, you should fell some heat over most of the area of the coils, although not as much at the output end. In other words, if only a small portion of the coils are heating up, it could be a sign of sealed system problems. If yours has a condensor fan, make sure it is running.

Another "old salt" trick is to "feel" the suction line going into the compressor when the compressor first kicks in for a cycle. On most systems ( not all ), this line will become cool after a few seconds and even develop frost sometimes for up to a minute, before warming back up ( not hot ). If this is happening, it probably means that your compressor and freon levels are ok. If it doesn't, then further testing may be necessary. Not all refrigerators will do this.

Anyway, blowing the coils out may just have fixed the problem. Clogged condensors can bring these things right down to their knees. In effect, a refrigerator is a heat pump. If it can't pump the heat out, guess where it stays!
 
  #17  
Old 10-05-06, 06:30 AM
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Randy, thanks for the info.

Without knowing the temp, I would say that the thing is running fine. Just no ice. It will freeze ice no problem in a tray.

I did notice that the compressor is hot to the touch while it is running. You can only hold your hand on it for about 4-5 seconds. Is that normal?

What should the temp inside the freezer be? I will check that as soon as I get home.
 
  #18  
Old 10-05-06, 06:57 AM
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oneshotman,

The compressor temperature is probably ok. There are varying opinions on what is the ideal freezer temperature. Some food experts say "0" or below. In my opinion, 0 - 5 is good. Some people like softer ice cream, but they probably won't like their ice maker performance, and food shelf life suffers.
 
  #19  
Old 10-05-06, 07:06 AM
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I will check the temp this afternoon. If it is good is it safe to say that it is an icemaker problem only? Then it is probably a bad switch or something?

John
 
  #20  
Old 10-05-06, 07:17 AM
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oneshotman,

Yep, I'd say that if the temperature around the icemaker is FIRMLY in the single digits, you probably have an icemaker problem.
 
  #21  
Old 10-05-06, 02:59 PM
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Randy,

My temp is hovering around 0 degs.

Is the switch in on the lever the first thing to check?

What tells the solenoid valve to open to let water in?

Thanks a million for your help.
 
  #22  
Old 10-05-06, 04:17 PM
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oneshotman,

OK, now we know that the temp is ok. What to do next?

I guess I had the impression that the icemaker wasn't doing anything at all. If that's the case, it could be the switch which is activated by the lever, the temp sensor, or other associated wiring and connectors. If the icemaker actually cycles but doesn't let water in, then we look at other things.

When the icemaker goes through a cycle, quite a bit happens. If the lever is down (and the switch is good), and when the temperature goes below the setpoint (and the thermostat is good), then a cycle begins.

A motor begins to move the fingers around, but also moves a cam-like mechanism which actuates another switch which turns on a heater (to free the ice). When the fingers have pushed the ice out of the trays, one of the last things the cam controls is a signal to the water valve through another cam-actuated switch. If you have water in the door, this gets a bit more complicated. You may have more than one valve in the circuit. The amount of water that enters is controlled by the timing of the cam and water pressure. If this circuit is bad, the icemaker will cycle, but no ice will be made.

One other possibility is the path the water takes to get into the tray. It usually comes through a tube that goes through the back of the refrigerator. This tube sometimes clogs up with ice. I haven't suspected this because when this is clogged, it usually doesn't correct itself, and you have an "intermittent" problem, I believe.

Tell us more.
 
  #23  
Old 10-05-06, 05:15 PM
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Randy you are correct, the ice maker is doing nothing. Not making ice, not calling for water, nothing.

Here is where I am at so far. I took the tube off at the solenoid valve at the bottom of the fridge and blew thru it so I know that at least the tube is not stopped up. I never hear the valve being opened to let water thru.

I have the icemaker out and am fixing to head to the neighbors to have him put his meter on the switches. There is 3 of them inside the icemaker next to the motor that dumps the ice.

Yesterday after cleaning the coils I turn the temp controll to the coldest setting. I checked the temp a few mins. ago after the door had been shut for awhile and it was at -26 F. That ought to freeze water. I am gonna adjust it to where it stays closer to 0. How long does it take for the temp to settle in after changing the setting?

thanks again.

John
 

Last edited by oneshotman; 10-05-06 at 05:35 PM.
  #24  
Old 10-05-06, 07:20 PM
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The saga continues....

Checked all the switches and they seem to be doing what they are suppose to be doing. They are either normally closed and they show they open or vice versa. Kinda confusing the way one feeds off the other.

When I put the ice maker back together I turned the pusher bar (the piece that pushes the ice out) where it was about half way rotated. As soon as I plugged it in the motor came on and turned till it came around to where it stops.

I am thinking that my problem is the solenoid valve. I know the switch that tells the solenoid valve to open is working so I should have water in the ice maker. Since there is none and the motor is turning the cam and it is making the switches the valve SHOULD open but it is not.

Am I wrong in my thinking?

My brain is dead. I'm going to bed.
 
  #25  
Old 10-06-06, 04:20 AM
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oneshotman,

Not easy to troubleshoot, even for someone with experience. I take it you checked the switches by actuating them and checking continuity with an ohmeter. There would be no easy way to check the temperature sensors because you would have to have some way of affecting the temperature around them.

Ok, your motor is working...that's good. Now I'll see if I can explain how the switches and all work. I'm assuming nothing has changed since I worked on these things, and that I haven't forgotten too much.

When the lever is down AND the temperature sensor temperature is reached, the motor begins to turn. Soon after that, the cam will actuate (close) another "keepalive" switch. As long as this switch is closed, the motor will turn regardless of the temperature or whether the lever is up or down. That way, it won't hang in mid-cycle after the temp sensor warms back up, because it will as a result of turning on the heater. Towards the end of the cycle, the cam turns on the switch that sends voltage to the water valve. When you turned the motor half way, you have taken the lever switch and temp sensor out of the equation. They could still be the culprit.

Do you know that the icemaker cycles on its own...without having to turn the motor to get it started? If you know that it does, then the valve could be the problem. You should monitor the voltage on the valve to see if it shows up when the icemaker reaches the end of the cycle.

At this stage, I would try to trick the icemaker into beginning a cycle by "shorting" the temp sensor. I may be wrong, but I believe some icemakers may provide a way to do that without having to touch wires to anything. I am not certain of this. If you have to short anything, you may want to get your neighbor involved. This is 117VAC we're dealing with.

Bottom line, we need to know if it cycles or not, and if it does, then we'll look at the water valve ciruit. The valves do go bad.
 
  #26  
Old 10-06-06, 05:12 AM
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Randy,

Yes we checked the switches by "making" each one. Some are normally open and close when made and vice versa. They all seem to be working in that each switch either opened or closed when pushing the button.

The two leads going to the temp sensor, if I just put a jumper across those two lead that should make it start a cycle? I think I can handle that. I take it that after the cycle starts take the jumper off to mimic the tray warming up?

The switch that tells the valve to open I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is working. Even if the sensor is bad or one of the other switches is bad I should have water in the ice maker if I understand how this things work. Since I don't have water in the tray that is what is making me think its the valve.

I will try the jumper thing and see whats happens.
 
  #27  
Old 10-06-06, 05:54 AM
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oneshotman,

You're getting there. In fact, now that I think about it, water should have entered the tray when you forced the start by turning the motor half way.

Jumping the temp sensor will kick things off, assuming no other issues. You may have to leave the jumper on for a few seconds until the "keep-alive" switch takes over.

If it runs, monitor the voltage on the valve. If at the end of the cycle you see voltage, but no water, you will have found the problem most likely. You can do a continuity check with an ohmeter on the valve. It must be disconnected from the refrigerator (electrically) when you do this.

Post back,
 
  #28  
Old 10-06-06, 06:12 AM
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Well crap!

I can't jump out the sensor without taking the icemaker back out of the freezer and taking it apart. I can't even unplug it with out taking it out first.

Would it work to pour water into the ice maker to think it is working and see if it dumps that load? Maybe I will happen to be around when it does to check the voltage on the valve.

John
 
  #29  
Old 10-06-06, 06:21 AM
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oneshotman,

You're definitely thinking now. Yes! Assuming that water coming in ( or not coming in, in this case ) is the problem, if you fill the icemaker with water, it will cycle when it gets cold enough.

Meanwhile, can you check for continuity through the valve coil? You should read somewhere between 200 and 500 ohms. Some valves actually have the correct resistance marked on them. However, if your eye sight is like mine, good luck. Again, disconnect the wires first.
 
  #30  
Old 10-06-06, 08:46 AM
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OK. Water is in the maker. After overfilling of course but we won't go there.

IF it does not dump this load of ice that would mean its the temp sensor right? But since when it quit the tray was empty still points to the valve, so I think it will empty the tray. (I hope).

Kinda a busy day, I don't know when I can get it pulled back out and get to the valve to check the ohms. But that will be the next thing I check.

I really appreciate your guideance on this.

John
 
  #31  
Old 10-06-06, 09:08 AM
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If it does not dump this load of ice, I'd say that it's more than likely the sensor since you have already tested the lever switch. Kinda anxious to see what happens.
 
  #32  
Old 10-06-06, 01:14 PM
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Well its looking like its the sensor. It has been a good 6 hours or so and it aint dumped it yet. The temp has stayed around
-18 degs.

Is the sensor built into icemaker?. It looked like it was built into the body of the unit.
 
  #33  
Old 10-06-06, 02:19 PM
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oneshotman,

I'm afraid I'm not going to be much help here. I don't think I've ever replaced one, but I would think they would be replaceable. Can you go online and look up your model? Try this link for a start....http://www.easyapplianceparts.com/. Otherwise, do a search for appliance parts on Google or Yahoo. I've had good luck buying parts for appliances online.

If the part is available, it must be replaceable, don't you think?

Let us know what you end of doing.
 
  #34  
Old 10-06-06, 06:00 PM
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Will do. Its getting late, it can wait till later. Thanks for all your help.

I will keep you posted.
 
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