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How To Install A Water Line For A Refrigerator | Guide

Did you just get a new refrigerator for your home? If so, you should know that even the best refrigerators, especially those with dispensers, need a water line installation.

How to Install a Water Line for a Refrigerator

Installing a refrigerator water line is more complex than you think. It's not just connecting a tube to another tube. It involves not only plumbing but also proper planning and forward thinking.

Fortunately, we have the tool to make you the handyman that you need to be for this task. Here's everything you need to know.

Before Installation: What to Know and Prepare

Before Installation: What to Know and Prepare
© Homesthetics - Monica Hewitt

Before you get excited about this task, check if there's no existing water line and shutoff valve for your refrigerator. These poke out from your wall or come through the floor.

If you already have an existing water supply line, you simply need to connect the shutoff valve with a ¼ x ¼-inch flex supply tube to your refrigerator.

On the other hand, if you don't have an existing water line to your refrigerator yet, prepare the following:

  • Measuring tape
  • Tee fitting
  • ¼-inch vinyl, copper, or braided steel water supply tubing
  • Flat-blade screwdriver
  • 2 adjustable wrenches
  • ¼-inch nut driver

If your water line passes through cabinets, you may need a drill with a 1/2-inch bit and vinyl zip-tie hangers.

Once these are ready, you can install a water supply line to your new refrigerator.

How to Install a Refrigerator Water Line: Step-By-Step Guide

Different brands and types of refrigerators may have specific instructions on their water line installation. But these are the general guidelines for doing so:

Step 1: Know The Plumbing Connection Requirements Of Your Refrigerator

Step 1: Know The Plumbing Connection Requirements Of Your Refrigerator

Source: Instructables

Check the owner's manual of your fridge to know its connection requirements. If you can't find the information there, pull the home appliance away from the wall and look for either push or compression fitting accommodations.

To differentiate the two, know that a push fitting has no thread to screw into.

A compression fitting, on the other hand, has threads around its outer edge. If you're installing a plastic pipe with compression fittings, use plastic ferrules to compress onto your pipe to leak-proof it.

Ensure you get a refrigerator water line installation kit that can accommodate the connection requirements of your fridge.

Step 2: Locate Your Cold Water Source

Step 2: Locate Your Cold Water Source

Source: Instructables

Homes usually have an existing water valve dedicated to the refrigerator water line as home builders usually anticipate the need for this already. It looks similar to the water valve located under your kitchen sink.

If your home doesn't have one yet, you have two options for going about it.

The first one is the easiest and best method we recommend. It extends a water line from under your kitchen sink. If you don't want to do this, tap into a water line in your basement or plumbing crawlspace.

A common yet old practice is using saddle valves to pierce existing copper water supply pipes. However, we don't recommend this because of its high leak potential and the prohibition imposed by some municipal building codes. You can use plastic tubing instead.

Step 3: Plan The Tubing Route

Step 3: Plan The Tubing Route

Source: Instructables

Find the shortest possible route to run your new water line tubing to create a connection between your water supply source and the fitting on your refrigerator.

Measure the length of this connection but add a few extra feet to give space to pull your fridge away from the wall whenever needed.

Don't hesitate to run your tubing through cabinets or the floor if your tap water source is in your basement or crawlspace. However, avoid running your new line through an uninsulated crawlspace because this can cause a frozen pipe situation in cold temperatures.

Step 4: Shut Your Water Supply Off

If you already have a dedicated cold water valve under your kitchen sink, shut the valve off and open the sink faucet to drain the water pipe.

Shut the water supply of your entire house off at the main water valve if you don't have an existing valve below your kitchen sink.

Step 5: Install Your Water Line

Step 5: Install Your Water Line

Source: Instructables

First, empty the cabinets where the length of your tubing will pass through. Remove their drawers as well.

Drill discreet holes with a 1/2-inch diameter on the sides of your cabinets or the floor, depending on your tubing route. Then, thread your water line through the holes from your refrigerator to your water source.

Secure your new tubing with zip-tie hangers in the cabinets if you think it's needed.

Step 6: Connect The Water Line To Your Refrigerator

Step 6: Connect The Water Line To Your Refrigerator

It's now time to make the plumbing connection. Again, start from your refrigerator.

  • If your fridge has a push fitting: Insert the end of your vinyl or copper tubing into the refrigerator fitting. Press down fully until the tubing is snug and secure.
  • If your fridge has a compression fitting: If you're using vinyl or copper tubing still, insert the female threaded nut onto the tubing and then the ferrule. Look for its female end if you're using a braided steel water line. Twist the female end of the line onto the male threads on your fridge connection until it's hand-tight. You can hand-tighten it by twisting clockwise. Tighten it again 1/4 to 1/2 turn with an adjustable wrench.

Step 7: Connect The Refrigerator Water Line To Your Water Source

Step 7: Connect The Refrigerator Water Line To Your Water Source

Source: Mr. Rooter

Here's the fun part. You have three options on how you can connect the water line of your fridge to your water source. They are the following:

Connect Using the Water Valve

If you already have a reliable water source for your fridge, connecting is the same as what you did with your refrigerator's compression fitting.

Connect Using an Add-a-Tee Adapter

You'll need to prepare a rag or small bucket under your water supply valve to catch the draining from your water supply tube before you go on with the following steps:

  1. Locate the outlet port of your kitchen faucet water valve.
  2. Remove the water supply tube from its shutoff valve by using a pair of adjustable spanner wrenches to hold the shutoff valve in place. Use your other adjustable wrench to loosen the compression nut on the water supply tube.
  3. Screw the female compression fitting on your Add-a-Tee adapter to the male threads of your shutoff valve.
  4. Install the kitchen water supply line to the adapter's male threaded outlet.
  5. Install your fridge's water line to the other outlet of your adapter.
  6. Tighten by hand, then finish tightening with your adjustable wrenches. Use one pair to hold the shutoff valve and the other to tighten your adapter.

Connect Using a Saddle Valve

First, make the compression fitting connection to the saddle valve. Twist the handle clockwise to close it.

Position your valve's gasket and frame around your copper pipe.

Then, tighten the frame screws but make sure they're even by alternating after a few twists. Continue this until the saddle valve is secured on your water pipe.

Take Note

This is the least dependable option because it pierces your copper pipe water line. Only resort to this option if the abovementioned options don't suit your cold water pipe.

Step 8: Flush Your Water Line

Now that your pipe ends and connections are secure, it's time to check for leaks.

To do this, turn the water back on from the main water line, dedicated valve, or new valve. Inspect each of your connections for water leaks.

Once you're safe from leaks, slowly push your fridge back to its place and wait a few hours.

Check if the ice and water dispenser is working properly by running it. You should flush around one gallon of water through your new line for this.

If everything is clear, you can now enjoy the convenience of having ice cubes ready and an automatic dispenser.

Additional Tips & Tricks for Good Water Line Tubing

Aside from knowing how to choose a refrigerator, it would be best if you also took note of the following guides to ensure good water line tubing:

  • Check your local plumbing codes and ordinances, especially if you use a saddle valve.
  • Look into your fridge's user manual for information about your refrigerator model.
  • Lower the torque setting on your drill to avoid accidents.
  • Copper tubing is best to prevent bad taste and odor in your water and ice.
  • Install your tubing in areas where the temperature is constantly above freezing to avoid a frozen pipe situation.
  • Ensure you flush out several gallons of water from your dispenser to remove air and contaminants. Throw away the first two to three batches of ice if your fridge has an ice maker.

Know more about how to clean out a refrigerator here.

Installing Refrigerator Water Line FAQs

  • We’ve answered the common questions you might have to help you go about your refrigerator water line installation better.

  • How Much Does It Cost to Install a Water Line to a Refrigerator?

    Installing a water line to a refrigerator can range from $75 to $150.

    This depends on many factors, such as job size, conditions, and location. You can spend less if you’re replacing an old refrigerator with an existing water line for dispensers.

  • Do You Need a Plumber to Install a Fridge With an Ice Maker?

    It depends on the fridge you’re installing.

    You might not need a plumber for plumbing-free fridges that use a water tank for their ice and water supply. If your fridge has an icemaker and a water dispenser, hiring a plumber is best.

    Look into the best mini freezers for options.

  • How to Install a Water Line for a Refrigerator Conclusion
    © Homesthetics - Monica Hewitt


    A refrigerator water line installation is a manageable task you can do. However, it's best to consult a professional plumber to ensure it is done properly, especially if your new refrigerator comes with dispensers.

    The easy way to do this can be different from the right way to do it.

    Hiring a professional plumber who's been doing many refrigerator water line installations saves you from future leakages and water damage.