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water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Posted by skeener (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 27, 10 at 14:23

Recently had a new GE Profile refrigerator w/water and ice in the door installed and it has had a slow drip from said water dispenser since installation nearly 4 weeks ago. GE has replaced several parts and made adjustments and it still drips. Now they claim that the water pressure is probably the issue and that the fridge should have 20-40 psi coming in. Our previous fridge had a water dispenser and didn't have a drip problem.

Are we getting the run-around on what the problem actually is, or does 20-40 psi sound right?

Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Tell them to try another lie. Under the IRC (international Residential Code)the minimum supply pressure must be 40psi.

Under the UPC (Uniform Plumbing Code) the minimum is 15psiand under both codes the maximum allowable supply static head pressure is 80psi.

Refrigerators are built to be used anywhere so they must design their product to work between 15psi and 80psi.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Thanks for your quick response, lazypup!!


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Updated: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

OK, so a quick call to GE Consumer Relations revealed that the tech misspoke...the pressure needs to be between 40 and 120 psi. Is it conceivable that our residential psi is higher than 120?

Thanks.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Yes, it is possible. And, if you think that's possibly the issue, get on it pronto.

For example, my own street pressure is 127psi. All the installations where I live have pressure-reducing valves just downstream of the meter that reduce street pressure down to about 60 for the houses. Three years ago mine broke sending 127psi throughout the house. Cracked filter housings; leaks from fittings; water heater tank fractured; etc., etc.

But -- back to your refrig -- assuming nominal pressure above about 15psi, you should be fine. I have two set-ups using RO water with Whirlpool Gold refs. HIghest pressure is about 32 psi. Lowest about 10-12psi. Both installations have been working fine for 17 years...including four different refs.

The drip you described is certainly related to "water pressure" but certainly not related to it in the range the tech described. That was bogus advice.

Back to the nut...if you've got 120psi in your house, drop everything and fix it. Screw-on pressure gauges are about $6.00 at your local hardware store.

I'll bet your pressure's fine and you've got a dumb tech who couldn't find/diagnose the leak the machine.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Thanks, asolo. I think I will try the home method of checking my pressure. Of course I have no idea what the pressure is until it is measured, but wouldn't there be some obvious signs if the pressure was greater than 120psi (other than the new fridge water dispenser drips)??

So, you think that our drip is related to "water pressure"? What other fixes are there besides lowering the line pressure?

Thanks!
skeener


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Well, certainly related to water pressure in that your water lines are, indeed, pressurized. Without pressure at some level, there certainly wouldn't be any drips anywhere. In that sense only, yes, your drip is certainly related to "pressure". However, from your description I am doubting over-pressure is the cause. And over-pressure in your lines is so easy and cheap to diagnose, I would start there so that you can move along to the more-likely real problem in the ref.

As to "obvious" signs of over-pressure....often kind of like a light bulb. Maybe nothing -- until something breaks and leaks. My filter housing exhibited no signs -- until it split and leaked. My water heater exhibited no signs -- until it ruptured and leaked. If you're waaaaay over-pressure, of course you may notice quite a blast from your faucets but maybe not because of other issues.

I believe "code" limits on household pressure are something around 80-85psi or so. Anything less than that is fine. I run my house on 55-65.

My guess is that your water pressure is probably fine (but do check it!) and there is a fault within the frig. I also suspect it is a likely a trivial thing that is easily fixed.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

If the OP has a closed plumbing system and no thermal expansion control device (IE: thermal expansion tank) or the thermal expansion control device that is installed has failed (IE: ruptured bladder in thermal expansion tank) then the water pressure will go way up every time the water heater cycles.

One of the symptoms of this exact problem are small and intermittent leaks from places that hadn't leaked previously like the WH T&P valve.

There's a nifty pressure gauge, that screws on a hose bib, with a tattletale needle that is very helpful at diagnosing that problem... Home Depot (Watts #IWTG) for about $11


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

That's it.

Justalurker's advice along these lines is what set me straight a couple of years ago when I replaced my pressure-reducing valve and water-heater. Thermal expansion tank on the water-heater was cheap, too. Good man to have on this forum -- very good..


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Hi. Just popped one of the above (thanks for the pic!!) on my outdoor front hose bib and it registered between 50 and 60 psi. Any chance it could ever spike to 120 or higher (that is, as long as the reducer valve is functioning)?

Thanks to everyone for educating me. Only bad thing is that we're back to square 1 with GE for servicing this drip issue. Maybe 5 service visits are required?!?!

Thanks.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

OK, then, back to the ref. As I see it, your tech has no place to run with this. Your pressure is fine. Water connections to refs. have been common for many decades. They are made with common lines and common connectors. When accomplished as they should be, they don't leak or drip. At this point, I have little doubt the problem is trivial and may be easily remedied by a competent tech. Since your ref. as you described it is new, I see no reason to be sympathetic to the put-offs you have described. IMHO they can either find the cause and fix it or give you a new unit that doesn't have the problem. Actually, I'm sort of disgusted at the advice you've described as coming from them.

Independent of the ref. problem, it would be good for you to know if you have a pressure reducing valve in your supply. This is easily determined by asking your water supplier what the pressure is at the street. If it is the same as you've measured, you don't. If it is much higher than that, you do. Or, you can ask your supplier to examine your meter and supply and tell you. If you do have a reducer, justalurker's suggestion of an expansion tank, probably near the water heater, is good advice.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

The PRV will limit the system pressure in the home to its setting but it can create a closed system which will not allow for water expansion.

Your static water pressure is fine at 55-60 lbs. If you have a closed system and no thermal expansion device the pressure can peak very high as the WH heats the water. If the system is closed and does have a thermal expansion device then that device may have failed.

Wait 24 hours and see where the red needle is.

A little light reading... click here to read about themal expansion


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Thanks again, asolo and justalurker! Back to the fridge, while it is GE's issue to determine what is going on or give me a new unit (this unit is less than 1 month old), I'm a troubleshooter by nature...the dripping that we are having is slow and comes to a halt after not using the dispenser for awhile (say, several hours). Does it still sound like a possible pressure issue? I really want to shove this back at GE with plenty of ammo.

Letting the gauge sit for 24 hours is a good plan...I can't get it fit tight enough on the hose bib faucet so that there is nothing dripping or spraying out. Does that mean I'm not getting an accurate reading?

Thanks everyone.
skeener


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Let's talk about the fridge... while you expect GE to troubleshoot the problem and repair it under warranty at no charge you are responsible for the environment that the fridge is installed into. If GE says max pressure is 120 psi and you have a thermal expansion problem that runs pressure spikes above 120 psi then expect to be billed by GE for every service call if they can prove it... cause I would bill you.

If you're a troubleshooter by nature then follow the laws of troubleshooting by starting at square #1. Before you beat up GE make sure your environment is operating properly.

If the pressure gauge is leaking then fix it. A hose bib attachment leak usually only requires a new rubber washer... no big deal, no tools, and no (or little) skill required.

Does the gauge you have have a tattletale needle? If yes, then fix the leak and wait 24 hours. If no, then you need the gauge with the tattletale needle for this test cause you're looking for a transient spike.

Let's see where we are in 24 hours.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Thanks, justalurker. My gauge does indeed have the tattletale needle. I'll get a better fit and let it sit!

Thanks.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Transient thought.....

"...the dripping that we are having is slow and comes to a halt after not using the dispenser for awhile..."

Could it be that you're observing a few leftover ice chips in the dispenser melting/dripping? If so, that's normal/typical. They all do that. However, tech should be able to discern easily. How consistent is this drip? Does it always happen the same way...after dispensing, then stops? Does it seem like could be "melting drip"? Is it only the ice dispenser or the water dispenser? Wondering if I've had the wrong idea about your problem.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Asolo,

He said "water dispenser" so he just has to make sure the plumbing system is up to GE acceptable spec. If it is then he has to pound on GE to make the fridge water dispenser work right or replace the unit or refund his money.

All he probably needs is a competent tech.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Yes, exactly, the drip is at the water dispenser tube.

And if anyone cares for details while we are waiting the 24 hours for the tattletale to tell its tale, the history on this issue is:

- First call, tech did some sort of air bleed..not sure exactly what was done
-Second call, tech replaced a coupler
-Third call, tech replaced the valve in the rear of the unit

Tech claims there are no other parts to replace, hence the toss to water pressure possibly being the issue.

23 hours to go. Thanks!
skeener


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

In 23 hours we'll prove the tech right or wrong.

There's no such thing as incompetent techs... they are salespeople with tools ;)


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Nice phrase. Hopefully I may be able to use it without copyright infringement.

My other favorite is about plastic surgeons: "Psychiatrists with knives."


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

It has now been 24 hours and while the black needle is pretty much right at 60, the tattletale needle shows that we spiked up to 100. Could the fact that someone is powerwashing our home today account for that spike? The spike wasn't over 120, so the fridge is still in its optimal operating range, thus should be no drips, correct?

Thanks,
skeener


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

If anything the power washing would drop your system pressure. The 100 psi is an internal pressure spike and does indicate thermal expansion in a closed plumbing system. There is enough latitude (slop) in this hardware that 100 psi might be enough to cause the offending drip.

This is what I'd do...

Find out and make sure that you either do or don't have a closed plumbing system.

If it is a closed plumbing system do you or don't you have a thermal expansion control device.

If you don't have a thermal expansion control device then have one installed. Thermal expansion tanks at the cold line to the WH are usually the easiest install.

If you do have a thermal expansion device then is it working properly or has it failed. Some PRVs have a check valve that can be a thermal expansion device but those can fail while the PRV still works. If you have a thermal expansion tank then remove it, drain it, and check the air. Should be around your 60 psi static system pressure. Use a bicycle pump to adjust.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Thanks for the valuable advise, justalurker. The fact that our pressure spiked that high is of concern to me and will seek a local plumber to check out our system.

Should we expect the drip to happen only when these spikes occur, or is our system continuously affected by the spikes...even if it only happens, for instance, once a day?

Thanks,
skeener


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Different hardware responds to pressure spikes differently.

Setting the fridge aside for a moment, pressure spikes are bad for toilet flush valves, faucets, and washing machines and such.

If you have a closed plumbing system with no or failed thermal expansion device(s) that has to be corrected.

Once that is sorted out then you can see where you are with the fridge. If correcting the thermal expansion doesn't solve the fridge problem then you will have an invoice from the plumber to use in your fight with GE.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Another update: Now that I have a more educated eye, I checked out our water line in the basement where it enters the house and noticed that we do indeed have a Watts Pressure Reducing Valve (N35B) on the line.

So, it's totally safe to say the PRV is not functioning if it allowed a spike of 100psi? Or is this where the closed system comes in to play and the spike was internal, and thus justalurker's suspicions are spot on and we need an expansion device? And if we do need an expansion device, why now after 5 years in this 19 year old home?

Thanks!
skeener


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Now that you know you have a PRV we KNOW you have a closed plumbing system and the 100psi spikes are the result of thermal expansion. You can refer to the link 14 posts above for a detailed explanation of thermal expansion.

The PRV creates a closed plumbing system. Since your internal pressure is 60 psi we can assume that portion of the PRV is working. We can prove that if we know the street side pressure.

The N35B does have a built-in bypass feature that limits the internal pressure to 10psi above the supply pressure. I don't trust the built-in bypass because the intent of a closed plumbing system is to prevent back-flow into the main system from homes. Click here for N35B details and read the TROUBLESHOOTING section CAREFULLY.

You may be experiencing the dribble now just because the new fridge has a valve that is sensitive to excess pressure. The bypass on the PRV might have just failed and is now causing you a thermal expansion problem. That is why the preferred thermal expansion control device is a thermal expansion tank.

Here's what I would do...

1. Measure supply (street side of the PRV) pressure for reference and to know how much the PRV is reducing the pressure for future troubleshooting.

2. If the PRV is not reducing pressure then replace it.

3. Install a thermal expansion tank at the cold inlet for the WH and sized from the link 14 posts above including a 1/4 turn ball valve so the tank is easily serviced in the future.

4. When that is done, if the fridge leak persists then back to GE, BUT, without a receipt from a plumber you may be banging your head against a wall with them unless you get a GE tech that has field experience and is knowledgeable.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Update: The water company sent someone out to check the street side pressure and I was told it was between 85 and 90psi. He also checked the house pressure and recommended that the PRV be replaced given the symptoms I described to him. Had a plumber come out and replace the PRV (he said it had been cranked all the way down, so it could not be adjusted any further). Initial reading on the pressure gauge after PRV replacement was 40psi. Left it on overnight, spiked to 70 at some point, but still sitting at 40 upon reading this morning.

This still indicates an internal issue outside of the PRV? Or is the PRV designed to allow spikes this high at times? Get that expansion tank installed? I spoke to my plumber about the tank and he didn't seem to think it was necessary. Get a new plumber??? Hard to determine who to believe at this point.

Oh, and BTW, the water dispenser in the fridge still drips after PRV replacement.

Thanks, and thanks for the education!
Skeener


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

EVERY closed plumbing system will have thermal expansion and thermal expansion devices are installed to control it.
The new PRV has a check valve that is working while the old PRV had failed.

That said, I'd be looking for a new plumber... plumbing code mandates a thermal expansion device in a closed system and your plumber thinking it wasn't necessary defines the level of his knowledge and skill as below par. Before you bail on the plumber get him back to adjust the PRV to 55-60 psi where it should be. 40 psi is a little low.

AsI said before... I would install a thermal expansion tank as outlined in the link to Watts (the people who make PRVs) earlier in this thread.

I'd watch the tattletale needle for a few days. After a few days if the tattletale needle doesn't show a spike over 80 psi then call GE and tell them you had a plumber in to make the system operate properly and it is so now it's their problem.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

I sympathize with the OP. A couple of years ago when justalurker straightened me out on this issue after my PRV failed (127psi at the street!) and had to be replaced I, too, had to deal with deficient plumbers and, essentially, demand that an expansion tank be fitted. Upon discussing this with the supervisor, who was educated about the issue, I learned that justalurker had it right about the expansion tank. The supervisor agreed instantly. However his plumbers in the field weren't up to speed with it. Unfortunately, I first had deal -- and pay for -- all of the bad consequences first. Hopefully, you'll never have to.

In any event it was easy and not very expensive. You're getting good advice here.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

UPDATE: GE delivered a new unit today. No drips.

I do plan on having an expansion tank installed when I replace the water heater which is the next project on the list.

Thanks to everyone for all of the help, support, and education!

skeener


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

Good on ya. Glad GE stepped up and took care of it....even if it took a little wrestling to accomplish. I suspect you left them nowhere to hide.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

OK, so nearly 2 months after a new unit was delivered, we have noticed that there is an intermittent drip out of the water dispenser...not nearly like it was on the original unit, thank goodness, but it is indeed dripping. Is it normal to have a drip every now and then (for instance, during the night)?

Preparing for dealing with GE again...thanks.
Skeener


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

No, it isn't. I've had a half-dozen GE and Whirlpool refs with dispensers since the mid-70's. Cheap ones and expensive ones. None of them have leaked. Not even a drop overnight.


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RE: water pressure for refrigerator water dispenser

just got a new LG fridge today and am wondering when I will get a full stream from the water dispenser instead of a trickle. I want to clear the lines, but not much is coming out after 5 hours.


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