It is a tragedy when you come in from mowing the lawn on a hot day for some ice water only to discover that your freezer, for some reason, is no longer dispensing ice. Your ice bucket inside is full, but it just not coming out through the dispenser in the door. This is one of those refrigerator problems you can likely ignore for a long time, but if you have had enough of a beloved feature not working, here is what could be wrong.
It is typically best to start with the easiest to solve a potential problem. In this case, it is that an ice clog is preventing your freezer from dispensing any ice cubes. Ice that has sat around for a while will tend to fuse together into a great big clump due to its own weight. This often happens in the winter when there is a lower demand for ice and it tends to linger in the tub. This can also happen during times where the freezer was left open for a long period of time or if the defrost is malfunctioning in a way that makes your freezer get too hot. Typically an ice dispenser uses an auger to get the ice cubes out, but if there are no separate cubes or chunks that can be broken apart by the auger, you will get no ice.
Pull out your ice maker and check for clumps near the bottom of the bin or even inside the dispenser itself that will prevent dispensation.
If you press the lever on your ice dispenser, but it doesn’t make any noise, then it is most likely a problem with the motor responsible for turning the auger. It is the motor that is responsible for the distinct noise you hear when using your ice maker, so it is easy to tell when that is the problem.
By disassembling your ice maker so you can reach the motor, you can test the motor with a multimeter to see if it has continuity. Be sure to shut off the power to your refrigerator before doing this for your safety.
Ice Dispenser Actuator
When the lever is depressed to dispense ice, the actuator is responsible for activating the microswitch send signals to the ice maker. Often when this happens, you will hear a click that becomes quickly overshadowed by the sound of the auger motor activating.
Unfortunately, if there is a problem with the actuator, it can actually mean a lot of different problems in the process. If the actuator isn’t making contact with the switch, it could mean the housing bracket, switch mounting bracket, or actuator pivot are damaged and not making contact with the switch. Furthermore, there is also the potential that the microswitch itself has gone faulty.
Dispenser Control Board
If the actuator is making contact with the microswitch and the microswitch checks out fine with a multimeter, your final suspect should be the control board. Typically when this part is at fault, you will notice other symptoms, such as lights by your ice dispenser dimming when in use.
As you would expect, replacing the control board for your ice dispenser can be a complex repair. The difficulty comes with not so much replacing the board itself, as it is just a simple case of unmounting it and unplugging the wires, but rather, it can be difficult to reach and requires a fair bit of disassembly. It may be something that you might feel more comfortable leaving to a professional appliance repair technician. However, unless you see other visual signs that it might be the control board or you have tested all the common culprits above and they checked out, it is unlikely to be a control board problem.