How to Shut off a Refrigerator Water Valve

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What You'll Need
What You'll Need

A refrigerator water valve is an important component of most refrigerators that have an icemaker, water dispenser, or both. Since most refrigerators now have an automatic ice maker or a water dispenser, it is important to know where to locate the refrigerator water valve in order to properly shut it off during needed repairs.

Without the refrigerator water valve, it will be harder to make repairs if there are leaks or damages in the ice maker and the water dispenser. Since it is not always advisable or practical to shut off the entire household water system, it is important to have this water inlet valve installed in order to control the flow of water to the fridge. Here is how to shut off the refrigerator water valve while you're doing refrigerator maintenance.

Step 1 - Locate the Refrigerator Water Valve

First, you need to find where the water valve is located. This can be a little tricky sometimes, especially if the inlet valve was manually installed by someone else.

Usually, it's located at the wall at the back of the refrigerator. Move the refrigerator forward to reveal the location of the valve. If the valve is hidden in a box covered by a plastic or metal guard, unscrew the guard to reveal the valve.

If the valve is not found at the back of the fridge, follow the water supply line until the valve is found. It can be located near the cold water supply valve at the bottom of the sink. If not, keep following the water supply line.

Step 2 - Shut Off the Water Valve

Most water valves are easy to shut off. The valve will be equipped with either a lever or a knob to shut it off. If the valve uses a lever to turn it on or off the lever lines up in line with the waterline, it's in the open position. Rotate the lever until it is perpendicular to that position to shut it off. If the valve uses a knob, rotate the knob clockwise to shut it off.

Sometimes, the lever or the knob can be hard to rotate because it has not been used for a long time. If this is the case, you might want to shut off the main water line to prevent a water mess in case the valve would break while forcing it to work. You might have to use a wrench or pliers to unstick the knob, but before trying that, take a good look at the valve to see if there isn't and large nut at the base of the rotating shaft. There will likely be one and it should be moved around with a proper wrench along with working the knob or lever to work it loose and gradually take it apart from the body of the valve. It could then be cleaned out, replacing the seals, and put back together.

If the valve is in one piece and not possible to take apart, you can use a wrench or pliers to rotate it back and forth, gradually increasing the amount of movement to try and make it move freely. Grip the lever or the knob using any gripping device and turn it slowly until the lever or knob comes loose. Hand-rotate the lever or knob until the water valve is shut off. Once this is completed successfully, you can turn the main water line back on.


When the refrigerator water valve does not easily shut off, replace it with a new one in order to ensure that it can be easily shut off when required in the future. Shutting off the water valve is important, especially when the water dispenser or ice maker requires repairs.

Install the water valve in a location that is easy to spot. This makes shutting it off a lot easier and a lot faster than going under the sink or anywhere else that is harder to reach.

Shut off a Refrigerator Water Valve FAQ

How do I disconnect my refrigerator water supply?

Before you disconnect the water supply on your refrigerator, turn off the ice maker and/or water dispenser.

You will have to locate the shut-off valve for the fridge water supply line next. This may be under the kitchen sink, in the crawl space near the refrigerator, in a kitchen cabinet close to the fridge, or in the basement, to name the most likely locations.

Turn off the valve and then turn off power to the fridge. If nothing else, you can do this by unplugging it.

Wait about five minutes for the pipes and the mechanisms powering the fridge to cool down. Place a large, shallow bowl or pan under the water supply line to catch any water or debris that comes out of the pipe.

Find the saddle valve, a T-shaped valve that connects the water supply line to the refrigerator piping. Use a screwdriver to loosen the screws holding this valve in place and remove the saddle valve.

The water supply line should now be disconnected from the fridge.

Can you just turn off a refrigerator?

You can turn off a refrigerator and sometimes this is actually the best thing to do when you want to clean or work on the fridge for maintenance purposes. Some fridges have off switches but if you can't find that, you can just unplug it.

How do I know if my water shut-off valve is on or off?

Plumbing shut-off valves are designed to be pretty simple and to function basically the same way. Usually, a water shut-off valve is turned off if the handle is turned at a 90-degree angle.

If the handle of the valve is pointed in the same direction as the pipes, the valve is probably open. If it is turned to be perpendicular to the pipes, it is probably closed.

How do you properly turn off a refrigerator?

There are a couple of different ways to turn off a refrigerator. If you are going away for a short time, say on a standard vacation, you can turn the fridge to "cooling" mode or demo mode.

This will disable the cooling system in the fridge to spare energy, but it will not keep food cool so you need to empty the fridge first.

If you're going to be away for a much longer period of time, you want to unplug the fridge and disconnect the water supply line.

Why is my shut-off valve not stopping water?

If your shut-off valve is not fully shutting off, there could be debris that is blocking the valve. Try moving the handle back and forth a few times to dislodge any debris and get the handle moving more freely.

If you can move the handle fully to the shut-off position but water is still coming out, there could be a leak on the shut-off valve itself.