When you use an ice maker, it’s only normal to hear some noises as it dispenses ice into your cup. However, a grinding noise is quite unusual and usually indicates that there’s a problem somewhere inside. So, why does an ice maker make a grinding noise?
An ice maker might produce a grinding noise if there is an ice jam inside. That can cause moving parts like augers and arms to struggle and make a grinding noise. Build-ups around the fan can also cause its blades to grind against the frost and ice. Lastly, worn-out fan bearings or a failed auger motor could also cause grinding noises from the ice maker.
In this article, we’ll look closely at each of these possibilities and what you can do to resolve them.
Ice Jam In Ice Maker
One of the most common causes behind a grinding noise in your ice maker is an ice jam.
Ice makers typically have moving parts that distribute the ice in the bucket evenly. This component could be in the form of an auger or a moving arm that pushes the ice around to ensure they don’t accumulate on only one side of the bucket.
If outside air was to find its way inside of the ice bucket, it could cause the cubes to melt and form uneven clumps. These clumps of ice can jam any moving parts inside the ice bucket.
So, as the moving arm struggles to push the ice jam, it could produce the grinding noise that you hear.
How To Fix It:
To resolve an ice jam, you’ll need to melt all of the ice away. If your fridge has a removable ice bucket, then take it out and run it under warm water to melt any ice buildup.
You could also leave the ice bucket out for 10-20 minutes to let any ice melt naturally, as well.
As an alternative, you could also turn the fridge off and leave the door open. That will allow the ice jam to melt off by itself. However, this method will take a longer time to work.
Do not use a direct heat source to melt the ice, like a hairdryer or a heat gun. Yes, tools like these could melt ice very quickly. However, bear in mind that the panels inside your fridge are made of plastic. Any direct exposure to intense heat could warp or melt those plastic parts, causing damage to the inside of your fridge.
Ice Buildup At Fan
Ice makers also have a dedicated evaporator fan inside the unit. The purpose of the fan is to help distribute the cold air to simultaneously produce ice and keep them frozen in the ice bucket.
The evaporator fan for the ice maker is typically located towards the back of the unit.
How It Fails:
Many parts of the ice maker are prone to ice buildups. That includes the fan, as well. When ice and frost accumulate around the ice maker’s fan, that can prevent the fan from turning freely.
The fan blades could continually hit against ice as it turns, which you might then recognize as a grinding noise.
However, the grinding noise coming from the ice maker’s fan is a symptom rather than the main problem. Ice build ups occur because warm air has somehow found its way into the ice maker compartment.
That typically happens when the fridge’s rubber seal has worn out. When the seal is not in good condition, warm air can make its way into the ice maker even when the fridge door is closed. As a result, frost and ice can build up around areas where they shouldn’t.
How To Fix It:
Firstly, you’ll need to melt all of the ice buildups in the ice maker, especially near the fan. You can do that by shutting off the fridge and keeping the door open overnight so that all the ice will melt naturally.
Depending on how the ice maker is designed, you might be able to remove parts of it from the fridge. That would allow you to keep the fridge running while melting the ice buildup in the sink, for example.
But remember: the ice buildup is the symptom and not the root cause. So, you’ll want to inspect the rubber seal around your fridge door to ensure it’s in good order. If the seal is worn out, then you’ll need to replace that by having a new rubber seal installed.
Always remember never to use a heat source to melt the ice directly. Heat guns and hair dryers might seem like a convenient solution at first. However, the intense heat from those tools can warp and melt the plastic panels inside your fridge.
So, it’s always best to melt any ice using natural methods instead. Even though it’ll take a long time, it’s the safest and most thorough method of melting any ice buildup.
Worn Out Fan Bearing
Inside the ice maker, you’ll find a fan that blows cold air. That component is sometimes referred to as a recirculating fan, cooling fan, or even an evaporator fan.
Whatever it’s called on your ice maker, it relies on a bearing that looks like a metal ring, ensuring that the fan blades can spin smoothly and at high speeds. It achieves that by reducing any rotational friction so that the fan blades can spin using very little energy.
How It Fails:
Fan bearings can also wear out over time. When they do, the fan blades will struggle to turn smoothly because of additional friction coming from those worn-out bearings. In addition, as the motor continues to force the fan blades to turn, you’ll hear a grinding noise coming from the fan.
How To Fix It:
Unfortunately, a worn-out fan bearing cannot be fixed. So, the solution to this problem is to replace the fan entirely.
Before performing this or any other repair on your ice maker, be sure to disconnect the appliance from its power supply. That will eliminate the risk of electrocution and prevent injuries. Also, keep the user manual and tech sheet nearby for easy reference.
- To replace the fan, you’ll first need to remove the ice bucket. That will give you access to the ice maker assembly.
- Next, disconnect its wire harness and remove the ice maker assembly so you can work on it on a table or work surface.
- Inside the ice maker assembly, you’ll find the blower housing. That’s where the fan motor will be mounted.
- So, first, disconnect the motor’s electrical connector and free it from its mounting. Then, replace it with a new fan.
- Lastly, you’ll need to work backwards. First, reinstall the blower housing in the ice maker assembly. Then, place the assembly back inside the fridge.
Faulty Auger Motor
Ice makers also have a part inside called an auger. Whenever the ice maker is being used, the auger will turn and stir the ice in the bucket. In doing so, the auger will gradually push the ice towards the dispenser, where it will then fall into your cup.
Ice maker augers are powered by a dedicated motor, typically located in a motor assembly towards the rear of the ice bucket.
How It Fails:
If a grinding noise is coming from this part of the ice maker, then there’s a good chance that it’s coming from a fault auger motor. Auger motors that have been in use for a long time will experience their fair share of wear and tear.
When that happens, the motor will struggle to turn the auger and instead let out a grinding noise that you’ll hear whenever you try to use the ice maker.
How To Fix It:
To fix this problem, you’ll need to replace the faulty auger drive motor.
Before performing any repairs on your ice maker, you must first disconnect the power supply to the appliance. Plus, you’ll also need to shut off the water supply for the ice maker. These steps will allow you to work safely.
- The auger motor is far in the back, so gaining access to it is your first task.
- You can begin to do that by removing the ice bucket and the ice maker assembly.
- Once that’s done, you’ll be able to access and remove the ice auger drive motor assembly.
At this point, it would be very helpful to have your user manual nearby. Ice makers can be quite different from one another, so the manual will help you identify and remove the necessary parts for your model in particular.
- With the motor assembly removed, you’ll be able to unthread the mounting screws and remove the decoupler to gain access to the drive motor.
- Then, you can replace it with a new motor. Next, replace the electrical connectors and mount the motor inside the assembly.
- Lastly, install the motor assembly in the fridge and put the ice maker assembly back in as well.