For the past two days we have been watching the ice in the bin of our in-refrigerator icemaker dwindle to unusually low levels. In the past, we have had issues but they were usually due to a jam of the icemaker paddles caused by frost. This time all appeared to be clear and there was frozen ice in the mold (the mold is the part of the icemaker where the water is formed into ice).
Oddly, the paddles would start up and try to run a cycle every time I so much as jiggled the shut off bar, however the cycle would never complete. At first I thought it might just be a bad connection. So I used a hair dryer to heat up the mold and loosen up the cubes, started a cycle and the cubes dumped and the mold filled back up (to the proper level). So this at least showed that the water solenoid was operating correctly. I let it sit overnight hoping I had cleared whatever the issue was but the newly frozen cubes never came out.
If you are not familiar with typical houshold refrigerator style icemakers, you may not realize that they, somewhat counter-intuitively, require a heater to function correctly. The heater is an electrically operated resistance coil attached to the metal mold – during the ice ejection cycle it heats the cubes just enough so the paddles can easily push them out. No heater and the ice just sticks to the mold and the paddles jam. In the photo at right of the bottom of the mold, the heater is the U-shaped bar.
So as you can probably guess at this point I’m suspecting the heater. Of course the icemaker in this case must come out to test it. Meanwhile, I figure it is highly unlikely I am going to be able to fix a 6 or 7 year old icemaker, especially with a bad heater, so I get online and find a new one and order it.
The part for a new icemaker kit listed in our Norcold parts manual (our fridge is model 1200LRIMD) is S 106 633324. As it turns out the part on the icemaker itself was S 106 626649. These are interchangeable and so is part S 106 626638. This icemaker is used in many different brands and models of RV refrigerators.
The RV stores wanted $150 and more for the part, but I found it at an appliance store online for $69 plus $7 shipping – the vendor is in OH so only 2 days via UPS to AL and low shipping. Click here to see the vendor and part I purchased. Update 20160105 – the above link is no longer functional as it appears that vendor no longer offers Norcold parts, but here is another option.
Now that the part was on its way, I proceeded to remove the old icemaker assembly which should have been easy enough – it has just four bolts holding the assembly to the back of the ice box. However, there was frost everywhere so I needed to empty the compartment and melt the frost and ice off with a hair dryer. After sopping up the drippings, I made sure the icemaker was unplugged (the fridge and icemaker have separate plugs usually accessible from outside the coach at the fridge intake vent).
I loosened the 4 bolts bolts and the unit was free, but I still had to remove the power harness connector. This connector has a locking clip but you can’t reach it until you remove the motor cover (it is just a friction fit), then the locking clip is visible and more easily reached but you may still need to press it in with a screwdriver while you gently pull out the connector. In my case the harness had very little slack so it took some maneuvering to get the ice maker positioned so I could remove the connector. Also note that the thermal fuse molded into the power conductor of the harness clips to the bottom of the ice mold and unclipping it provides more slack.
After removal, I tested the heater coil with an ohm meter (which should have a resistance between 71-79Ω) and sure enough it was infinite ohms – aka open, failed, kaput, pooped out. Oh well, at least it lasted 7 years, the icemaker in our fridge at home was replaced twice within the first year.
For parts info on the Norcold 1200LR series refrigerators click here.
For a service manual complete with icemaker testing procedures click here.