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Refrigerator Water Line

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Refrigerator water line
Aaron Stickley
A dedicated refrigerator water line can be a convenient way to have filtered water and an automatic ice maker. There are various options for connecting a refrigerator water line to accommodate any kitchen configuration.

If you are lucky there is an ice maker box in the wall behind the refrigerator and hooking up the water line is as easy as buying a 5’ 1/4" x 1/4" flex line and connecting the two ends. The extra length will allow you to pull the refrigerator out away from the wall (for repairs, cleaning, etc.) without any problems. You would connect one of the female ends from the flex line to the valve in the wall and then connect the other end of the flex line to the back of the refrigerator. Tighten the flex line using two adjustable pliers. Use one to hold against the pipe or valve so nothing turns when you tighten the flex line.

If you do not have a water line built into the wall behind the refrigerator then you need to run a water line from the nearest water source, which is usually the kitchen sink. The refrigerator water line will then need to go through the cabinets, if possible, and come out just behind the refrigerator. This is where you have several options for how to tap into the water supply.

Adapt-a-Tee - A very simple option is to use an Adapt-a-Tee fitting to make use of an existing water line. The tee quickly connects to the cold water stop valve under the sink. The water line to the sink connects to one outlet of the tee and you can run a 1/4” water line from the other outlet. If the refrigerator is close enough to the sink you can run a long flex line (they are available in lengths of 1’ to 25’) through the back of the cabinets. If you need a longer water line you can buy 1/4” poly tubing or 1/4” copper tubing in longer sections.

Dedicated Valve - Another option is to hook up a water line to a dedicated valve for the refrigerator. For this option you will need to tap into the sink’s cold water supply before the shut off valve. You can connect a tee and then put a valve onto the end piece of the pipe. This will allow you to have a separate shut off the refrigerator and one for the cold water to the sink. A flex line or poly tubing would run from the new shut off valve to the back of the refrigerator.

If the line is copper you can solder the tee into place or you can use a push fit fitting if you do not want to do any soldering.

Saddle Valve – Another option for a dedicated shut off valve for the refrigerator water line is a saddle valve. A saddle valve clamps on to the cold water supply pipe and pierces it so that water will flow through the new valve. These are small valves like the type you sometimes see used for a swamp cooler water supply. Tubing is the run from the valve to the refrigerator. Saddle valves tend to not last as long as a normal shut off valve because they are so small but they will get the job done.

Tips:

  • Make sure whatever line you run behind the refrigerator that you leave plenty of tubing length coiled to allow for movement if you need to pull the refrigerator out when you need to get behind it.
  • Before you make the final connection behind the refrigerator it is a good idea flush out the water line into a bowl or bucket to prevent any sediment that may have gotten into the line from getting into the refrigerator.
  • Once everything is tight turn on the water supply and check for leaks. It is a good idea to keep an eye on this and check back in a few hours or the next days because a really slow leak can take time to show up especially if there is air in the line.
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