How to Install a Water Line for a Refrigerator

  • 01 of 07

    Installing a Water Line Is a Snap

    Getting glass of filtered water from refrigerator.
    JazzIRT / Getty Images

    Running a water line to a refrigerator to supply its ice maker and drinking water dispenser has never been easier. At one time, this was typically done with 1/4-inch bendable copper tubing snaked from the refrigerator to the nearest source of water, tapped into the water line using a saddle valve or other fitting. Now, there are convenient 1/4-inch flexible water supply tubes in lengths from 1 ft. to 20 ft. that can be used, and convenient "Adapt-a-Tee" fittings that can be installed pretty much anywhere there is an existing shutoff valve. 

    In most cases, the water line can be run from a kitchen faucet water supply line through the kitchen cabinets and over to the refrigerator. If running the line through the cabinets is not feasible, you might need to run a line through the floor and up to where the refrigerator is located.

    Flex water supply tubes are available in either a tough plastic nylon mesh or braided steel. Although the braided steel is considerably more expensive, the extra strength it provides is well worth the investment. It can be very inconvenient to move a refrigerator to get at a water line that has failed, so buy the best-quality water supply tube you can.

    Tools and Materials You Will Need

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  • 02 of 07

    If a Water-Supply Pipe Is Already Available

    Kitchen water valve
    Tomwsulcer/Wikimedia/Public Domain

    It's entirely possible there is already a water-supply stub-out and shutoff valve located behind the refrigerator—either extending out of the wall or sticking up through the floor.  If so, your job is very easy. 

    Just buy a 1/4-inch x 1/4-inch flex line supply tube in the length you need, and connect one end of the hose to the fitting on the back of the refrigerator and the other end to the fitting on the water supply valve. Turn the water supply valve on and check for leaks. Tighten the fittings as needed, using channel-type pliers or an adjustable wrench. 

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  • 03 of 07

    If There Is No Water Supply Pipe

    Adapt a tee adapter
    Aaron Stickley

    If you don't have a convenient water supply pipe and valve near the refrigerator, you must instead find another spot to hook up the water line. Usually, this will be at some other existing water hookup, like the water supply lines connected to your sink faucet or dishwasher. You'll simply replace one of those fittings with a new 3-way angle stop, or add a tee fitting between the water supply shutoff valve and the pipe. 

    An Adapt-a-Tee is an ideal plumbing fitting for this purpose. Adapt-A-Tees are easy to install, and they provide the extra line you need with the least amount of work possible. The type designed for copper pipe use simple compression fittings, and there are other types designed for attachment to CPVC or PEX water supply pipes. 

    Adapt-a-Tees can be used in many situations where you need an extra line. They come in various sizes to suit the job. The following steps show how to install this tee adapter to supply water to a refrigerator.

    You will also need a longer flex water supply tube to run from the water pipe to the refrigerator. Measure the distance carefully, and buy a supply tube with plenty of length for the job. 

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  • 04 of 07

    Step 1: Disconnect the Existing Water Line

    Disconnecting the faucet water supply line
    Aaron Stickley
    1. First, locate the shutoff valve under the kitchen sink where you want to connect the new water line. Shut off the water at the valve that controls the cold-water supply pipe to the faucet. If there are no branch shutoff valves, you can turn off the water by closing the main water supply valve to the entire house. 

    2. Disconnect the faucet supply tube from the shutoff valve. Use two sets of pliers to safely remove the tube—one to hold the valve and one to unscrew it. Be prepared for a small amount of water leakage as you remove the valve—this is just the standing water in the water pipe, and it can easily be sponged up. 
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  • 05 of 07

    Step 2: Connect the Tee Adapter

    Connecting a water line tee adapter
    Aaron Stickley

    The tee adapter connects to the water supply shutoff valve, and needs to fit the threads on your valve; just make sure one of the outlets is 1/4" O.D. for the new refrigerator water supply line.

    1. Attach the Adapt-a-Tee adapter to the shutoff valve, tightening by hand at first.
    2. Then finish tightening a little more with pliers; sure to use another set pliers to hold the shutoff valve and prevent it from twisting on the pipe while you tighten it.  
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  • 06 of 07

    Step 3: Connect the Water Supply Tubes to the Adapt-a-Tee

    Connect water supply lines to the tee adapter
    Aaron Stickley
    1. Reattach the faucet supply tube to the 3/8-inch nipple on the Add-a-Tee. Use two pairs of channel-type pliers—one to grip the tee fitting, the other to tighten the supply tube onto the tee fitting. 
    2. Now attach the 1/4-inch refrigerator flex supply tube onto the tee and tighten, again using two pairs of channel-type pliers. 
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  • 07 of 07

    Step 4: Connect the Supply Tube to the Refrigerator

    Connecting water supply to the ice maker water line
    Aaron Stickley
    1. Run the new supply tube to the back of the refrigerator. Connect the end of the tube to the 1/4-inch water supply fitting on the refrigerator. Tighten the connection just a little more than hand-tight, using pliers. 
    2. Now turn on the faucet shutoff valve under the sink and check for leaks at the Adapt-a-Tee connections. Also, check for leaks where the supply tube connects to the refrigerator before pushing the appliance back into place.
    3. If the refrigerator has a water dispenser, flush out several gallons to purge the line of all the air. If there is no water dispenser, throw away the first full batch or two of ice to make sure it is all clean and ready to use.