Before You Install an Ice Maker, Don’t Forget Your Ice Machine Water Line

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Ice Maker Water Line

Among the many installation requirements like space, drainage, and electricity, ice machines also require specific amounts of water to function. Your ice maker connector line gives the machine access to cold water, usually through a copper pipe. Every model requires a specific size of supply line and faucet, much like how a fridge can have varying supply lines. You need to find the correct kind of ice maker line if you want it to easily connect and work properly.

In this article, we’ll show you why a water line is so vital to your ice machines and how to choose the right one for your model.

Why is An Ice Machine Water Line Important?

The job of a water line connection is similar in an ice machine and other appliances, such as a refrigerator. The line connects to the wall and the plumbing system beyond, and every batch of ice cubes starts with the water your tubing will pull into the ice machine.

Merely installing an ice machine on any water line likely won’t do. You’ll need to make sure the water line in your business can provide the full amount of water your model needs, and that you have a suitable compression valve if you ever need to cut the water supply.

3 ice cubes

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Water lines come in different sizes and flow rates. These factors are dependent on the model ice machine you plan on installing in your business.

ice machine technician examines water line

What Happens if I Get the Wrong Sized Water Supply Line?

Ice machines require a certain amount of water to make a full batch of ice. If the ice maker water line you choose doesn’t provide the proper amount of water to the unit, a number of problems can occur, including:

  • Smaller ice cubes
  • No ice
  • Damage to evaporator plates

    ice machine grid-style evaporator plate with water flowing over it

Note that many of these problems can also happen if the ice machine is leaking or if the ice machine water line is freezing up.

What Factors Do I Need to Consider?

When choosing an ice maker water line, there are a few factors you need to consider, they include:

  • Water flow
  • Space
  • Shut-off valve
  • Size

Water Flow

This is the most important water line requirement in ice machines. While there might be some leeway with space, size, and whether to include a shut-off valve, the water flow needs of your ice machine must be adhered to. Any less the designated amount, and you’ll run into any or all of the issues we mentioned above.

Water flow is measured by gallons per minute (GPM). For example, a water line that delivers five GPM will run five gallons of water to an appliance every minute. Generally, the size of the ice machine will determine the flow rate.

A large ice machine will often require more GPM than a small commercial ice maker.


Generally, you want to make sure the water line is within 6 feet of the ice machine. This distance makes it easy for someone to cut water to the ice machine if they have to. Which leads us to the shut-off valve.

3 ice cubes

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Shut-Off Valve

If you need to cut water to the machine, you’re going to need a shut-off valve. You may even want to include an additional shut-off valve between the water line and the ice machine, just in case the first one fails.

plumber's hand reaches toward water shut off valve to turn it off


The size of the water line denotes the outside diameter of the line. Check your ice machine manual to find the proper size water line your model needs to function.

If you don’t have the right sized water line, a plumber can install one for you.

Want Full Ice Cubes? Don’t Forget About Your Water Line.

Installing an ice machine is not as easy as plugging in a microwave. Each model has different electrical, space, drainage, and water needs. If you don’t install your ice maker properly, you’ll be looking at less ice, or even worse, damage that will require an expensive repair.

Make sure your ice maker is installed correctly to keep it running in top condition. A proper installation will also save you money in repair and service costs. For more information, follow our checklist on properly installing an ice maker.

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