If you’ve got a KitchenAid (or Whirlpool, or Kenmore) fridge with an ice maker that’s not making ice, don’t call the repairman. This is a very easy (and relatively inexpensive) fix that you can totally do yourself. These same instructions will work for any similar Whirlpool, Maytag, Kenmore, Amana, or JennAir refrigerator, since they’re all made by the same company and (for the most post) all use the exact same replacement parts.
A couple of months ago (after my epic saga with my KitchenAid fridge’s dead control board), that same fridge’s ice maker stopped making ice. Ok, so it didn’t completely stop at first… it just kinda made wimpy little wanna-be cubes of ice, and then it stopped altogether. Excited by another challenge, I grabbed my tools and test equipment, then started pulling things apart.
I jumped on YouTube and found this excellent video explaining how to remove the ice maker. Even though it says it’s for a Kenmore fridge, it was the exact same procedure for removing it from a KitchenAid:
I also found a number of troubleshooting videos to help diagnose and repair a failing ice maker. I used the “wire trick” to attempt to manually trigger the ice making process. I tried taking it apart, cleaning all the contacts, and putting it back together. I tried all the “tricks” I could find on YouTube and the blog-o-sphere… but nothing seemed to work. After eliminating all the other possibilities, I concluded that the motor was simply dead (and I’d later find out I was right). I started shopping online for a replacement motor.
As always, I started by using my fridge’s model number to search for the part I needed (to make things easy, I snap photos of my appliance’s model and serial numbers, then type them into a Google Sheets spreadsheet so I can access them from anywhere — including a parts store).
I searched for “KSCS23INSS00 ice maker part number” and discovered that the Whirlpool OEM part number for my KitchenAid ice maker was 2198597, but that part number would replace any of these identical ice makers from Whirlpool, Kenmore, Amana, JennAir, or MayTag; W10122502, 626663, 1016069, 2198678, AH869316, EA869316, PS869316, or W10190960.
Using the new part number, I started shopping for replacements. I found I could buy the whole ice maker unit from a number of online parts sources between $107 – $110 (brand new). Some locations like PartsSelect even provide helpful videos on how to replace them (which I recommend watching). I could save a bit of money if I just bought the motor assembly portion, which was slightly cheaper at between $80 – $95 (there were also helpful videos).
But as it has so many times before, Amazon.com came to my rescue. First, I found this complete Whirlpool Icemaker 2198597 for $78.31 (including free Prime shipping). I figured that would be way cheaper than getting the repair dude to come out, plus I’d be buying the whole unit for less than the cost of just the motor module from the other places… so I almost clicked the button to just go ahead and just buy it.
But then, I saw that tiny little link near the bottom of the item description that said “6 used from $46.46” — and I was intrigued.
I mean, who sells a used ice maker on Amazon? The answer is: nobody. The “secret” is that they’re not actually used, but are actually ice makers that have been purchased and then returned to Amazon.com. At that point, Amazon can’t sell them as “new” any more, so they sell them through their “Amazon Warehouse Deals” program. Sometimes the packaging is missing or damaged, and sometimes there might be a tiny scratch somewhere on the plastic. Amazon will always tell you the item condition (such as “Very Good” or “Like New”) and how much of the surface area might be affected (sometimes they actually say “less than 1%.”) But these items are good as new, work perfectly, come with Prime free two-day shipping, and can be returned like any other Amazon purchase. As of the writing of this article, the cheapest one I could find on there was $61.05. I lucked out and found one for $46.46.
But whatever the cheapest one there is that’s sold by Amazon Warehouse Deals, just go ahead and grab it. Why was mine only $46? Because they said the original packaging was damaged. So when it arrived, and I took it out of the box, here’s what it looked like:
There’s a small rip in the plastic bag. Other than that, the unit was perfect! I placed the new unit (on the left) next to the old unit (on the right) to compare them. The easiest way to tell them apart is the newer unit has a darker and shinier brown non-stick lining on the metal tray where the ice cubes form, while the old unit’s tray looks weathered:
With both units side by side, I noticed one very minor difference between the new ice maker and the old one. Look closely and see if you can find it. I didn’t know if it would make any difference once installed (looking back, probably not), but I didn’t want to take any chances. Besides, I’d already taken my old one apart previously when troubleshooting it, so I knew it was just a matter of a few screws and less than 5 minutes to partially disassemble both units and move the slightly different part from the old ice maker to the new one.
Did you find the difference? My old unit had a smaller “bucket” on its right side that catches water flowing from an overhead rubber tube into the unit, and the newer unit had a larger one. This photo shows my old bucket (now attached to the new ice maker) with the newer (but larger) bucket next to it:
I had to pull off the motor assemblies from each unit to swap out the buckets, but that gave me a chance to compare them, too:
Here’s a close-up of the old (broken) motor on the right, with the replacement unit’s motor on the left:
The units look identical (except for the sticker placement), but I like to tell myself that they hopefully found a better motor supplier and that this ice maker will last more than seven years. Probably not, but at least I’ll know how to replace it again in seven more years. 🙂
A few minutes later, everything was back together and my ice maker was back inside the freezer (this photo was taken before I installed the front cover):
I closed the door, crossed my fingers, and let some time go by. Every now and then I’d hear the magical “hissing” of water flowing into the ice maker, and then later hear the “clunk clunk clunk” of 8 cubes at a time falling into the in-door ice bucket. Behold!
Do some of the “tricks” available online work to fix your ice maker? Probably — if it’s just a loose or corroded connection. But chances are high that the problem’s going to lie with one of the electrical points in the system, which is going to either be the motor that rotates the arms to eject the ice, or the thermostat that regulates the heating of the ice when it’s time to dump the ice.
For $40 – $60 plus literally 5 to 10 minutes of work (and it will probably only take you 10 minutes if you’re missing an arm) to pop in a brand new unit, at some point it’s just not worth wasting your time trying to hack your way around a broken appliance… especially when no “trick” in the world is going to fix a dead electric motor.
If you’re not paying for the repair guy, and you just want to look like a hero and have a working ice machine again, sometimes the cheapest fix is to buy a new one on the cheap (with 2-day free shipping!) and install it yourself.
Again, for your reference, here are the links to the new and “used” (cough, cough) ice makers on Amazon:
- New Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Kenmore, MayTag Icemaker 2198597
- “Not allowed to say new” icemaker 2198597 from Amazon Warehouse Deals
WARNING: Do not be fooled by items on Amazon like the “ERP (Exact Replacement Parts) Icemaker” or “RIM597 Replacement Icemaker” being sold by companies like PartsHouseSupply or Supco. I’ve linked to them only so you know what to avoid, and not so you can buy them (seriously… don’t buy them).
Even though they might reference the OEM part number in their description, these are not KitchenAid or Whirlpool OEM factory parts. When it comes to major appliances, stay away from anything that says “replacement” and stick with the factory parts. Those units I mentioned (and others like them) are cheap “replacement” units that are even worse than the factory parts. They will not fit exactly the same, and they will not work as well. Hear me now, believe me later. Don’t be tempted by the extra $20 in “savings.” You won’t actually save anything, and will end up with a badly fitting unit that spills water all over your freezer… and you’ll wake up to a frozen mess. Sometimes the cheapest isn’t the best value, and that’s the case with ice makers. Buy factory original parts… but buy them smarter. 🙂
As always, I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions below!