Why Won't My Frigidaire Water Dispenser Shut Off?

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

One of the great luxuries of the modern home is having a water dispenser in your refrigerator door. It’s wonderful to have filtered water and ice available at the ready, but it’s not-so-wonderful when your dispenser suddenly stops shutting off. A leaky dispenser can drive you crazy and cause a slippery mess in your kitchen!

Your water dispenser may be leaking because of trapped air in the water line, damaged vinyl tubing, an issue with the water valve, pressure buildup, or you may need to empty the catch pan.

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Air Trapped in the Water Line

One of the reasons your water dispenser is leaking may be from air trapped in the water line. The water line is responsible for bringing water from a source to your refrigerator. If there is air in the water line, the pressure will build up inside and cause it to leak.

To fix a leak caused by air in the water line, run the dispenser for two to three minutes. Doing this should remove the air from the line and stop the leak.

Damaged Vinyl Tubing

If you’ve fixed the air bubble problem and your dispenser is still leaking, there may be a problem with your vinyl tubing. The vinyl tubing that connects your dispenser to your water supply can split or break, causing a leak from your dispenser.

The way to fix your damaged vinyl tubing is to simply replace it with a new tube.

Water Valve Problem

Refrigerators with water dispensers come equipped with shut-off water valves. If there is water leaking from your dispenser, there is likely something wrong with your shut-off valve. If you’ve had the refrigerator for a while or utilize the dispenser often, the shut-off valve may just be fatigued.

To determine if the problem is with your water valve, watch the water line attached to the valve as the sensor arm is depressed. If water flows from the valve to the water reservoir, your water valve is functioning. If you notice that water isn’t flowing, it may be an electrical issue.

There should be a slight buzz when pressing the sensor arm of the water dispenser. If there is no electrical buzz, then the valve needs to be replaced. You should have a professional replace the valve.

Pressure Buildup

If the water pressure in your refrigerator is too high, this could be causing your shut-off valve some problems as well. To adjust the water pressure in your refrigerator, you can install a water pressure regulator on your system. A water pressure regulator will prevent water from spewing out at a high rate when you use your dispenser.

Empty the Catch Pan

While the dispenser itself is not necessarily leaking in this situation, a full catch pan can cause spills in your kitchen. Your catch pan is located below the dispenser and catches excess water that drips after use.

When the catch pan becomes too full, water will dribble down the front of your refrigerator. Luckily, this indicates there is not an issue with your dispenser! Simply dump out the catch pan and add that to your regular kitchen cleaning schedule.

Normal Water Drippage

Your water dispenser may drip now and then, but this is perfectly normal. After use, the dispenser may continue to drip for a few seconds and then stop. These few leftover drips sometimes occur if you remove your glass too quickly from the dispenser.

How Does a Water Dispenser Work?

If your water dispenser is leaking, don’t assume it’s time to replace your entire refrigerator! It’s essential to know how your water dispenser works to get to the bottom of the problem.

The piece you push back each time you want cold water is the sensor arm on your water dispenser. Doing so triggers a switch in the refrigerator door. This action causes the water valve to operate and release water through tubes in the back of your fridge.

Water from the tubing is stored in a water reservoir until someone presses the sensor arm again. The reservoir is filled regularly so there is always a store of water in the refrigerator.

Troubleshooting Your Leaking Water Dispenser

If your water dispenser is leaking, there are a few steps you can take to determine the cause:

Step 1

Test the amount of leakage from the water dispenser. Hold a glass underneath the water dispenser after you have released the sensor arm. If there are a few drips from the dispenser, this is normal.

Step 2

Rinse the sensor arm with soap and water to clean any residue buildup. Over time, water splashes up from use and creates residue that can cause a leak.

Step 3

Run the dispenser for five seconds and then stop it for five seconds. Continue for two minutes to clear air out of the pipes.

Note: You should do this intermittent starting and stopping of your dispenser whenever you replace your refrigerator’s water filter to clear the system.

Step 4

Check for cracks in the refrigerator’s plumbing. If anything is loose, tighten it. Replace cracked pipes as needed to prevent further leaks.

Related Questions

How often should I clean my refrigerator water dispenser?

Just like any other appliance in your home, your water dispenser needs regular cleaning. Your water dispenser should be deep cleaned every six months, but the dispenser nozzle should be cleaned about once a week. Neglecting your water dispenser can lead to mineral buildup in the nozzle and clogs in the tubing. This buildup can prevent your dispenser from working!

How often should I replace the water filter in my refrigerator?

The more people in your household utilizing your water dispenser, the more often you will have to replace your water filter. If there are four or more people using your water dispenser, you should replace your filter every six months. If less than four people are utilizing your water dispenser, replace it once a year. 

What does the water pressure inside my refrigerator need to be for the water dispenser and ice maker to work?

The water pressure inside your refrigerator should be between 40 and 120 PSI for your water dispenser and ice maker to work properly. Anything lower than 40 PSI will cause problems with your ice maker. 

Can you put liquids besides water in your refrigerator’s water dispenser?

While creating your own soda fountain sounds fun, non-clear liquids tend to clog your water dispenser. Unless you can clean very vigorously and thoroughly afterward, do not put anything besides water in your refrigerator’s water dispenser. 

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Wrapping Up

If your water dispenser is leaking, don’t panic! This likely means that a part of the water dispenser system needs replacing, not the entire refrigerator. Your water dispenser may be leaking because of trapped air in the water line or damaged vinyl tubing.

There might also be an issue with the water valve, pressure buildup, or you may need to empty the catch pan. However, a little bit of drippage from your water dispenser is standard after you use it.

A water dispenser works when the sensor arm is depressed and triggers a switch inside the fridge, and turns on your water valve. Then, the water valve which releases water through the water line and into the water reservoir. Water is stored in your water reservoir until you press the sensor arm.

To determine why your water dispenser is leaking, you should clean your dispenser, run it intermittently, and check for cracks in the refrigerator’s plumbing. If you need to replace anything, call a professional. A water dispenser without leaks will be sure to leave you happy and hydrated!

Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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