For DIY'ers... how to repair torn plastic water line to fridge?
October 22, 2014 7:44 AM   Subscribe

We just bought a new fridge w/ice maker. The installation guys weren't able to install the ice maker line, since the line was torn (our last fridge didn't have an ice maker, but there was one behind the fridge.) The spare one they brought was too short, so they suggested I repair the one already in place. I tried, and failed. Help! Details inside.

(A quick word of warning... I'm not much of a DIY-er, so please be gentle with the explanations. I need layman's terms.)

We just bought a new Kenmore fridge with water/ice maker. The previous fridge didn't have one, but there is a water line.

The guys from Sears put in the fridge and tried to hook the water line to the fridge, but the plastic tubing was torn. Both pieces were there, but they were separated into two. The Sears team said they couldn't install it, and recommended I patch the two tubes back together. They briefly explained how to do so, and I wrote as much of it down as I could, but upon attempting the repairs myself, I got stuck and could use your help.

Here's what the guys told me to write down:

1. Buy compression fitting for plastic waterline... male to male adaptor.
2. Buy ferrules.
3. Give clean cut.

So I moseyed on down to Home Depot and talked with a plumber working there. I showed him the installers' suggestions. He gave me a lot of options, and I didn't follow all of what he was saying. Per his advice, I purchased a pack of compression nuts, plus brass inserts w/Delrin Sleeves (he said these were ferrules).

I tried patching the two together with these, the way he told me to. I got the nuts, ferrules + brass inlets onto the tubing, but there's no way to join them together. I get the feeling that the plumber either sold me the wrong item, or I'm missing a piece that I should have bought. I get the feeling that it has something to do with the male-to-male adaptor part, but I'm not sure. I'm sure the solution is simple once I know what I need, but I wasn't able to find a good youtube video on repairing plastic water lines.

Anyways, here's a pic of the two separated lengths of tubing, then a pic of one of the lengths up-close:

Also, I've got one more question... I was thinking of replacing the line with a more durable non-plastic water line, but the plastic line is threaded behind a cabinet which is pretty darn tough to get to. It would probably be much easier to join the two plastic sections together and call it a day.

Do you think it would be worth it to replace the tubing, or should I be fine with what I have? I'm assuming running water through the line would clean out the gunk that's in it since it's old, but I'm concerned as to its reliability. I'd like the simplest possible way to do this, but would also like it to be durable enough to last.

Thanks in advance. Please help this poor guy who has no clue what he's doing.
posted by CottonCandyCapers to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
What they've sold is is the parts that would allow you to connect the two pieces of the line via a brass [whatever size that is] to [whatever size that is] brass fitting. You could just go buy the fitting.

Or, what I'd do, is I'd cut off about two inches of the plastic line and take it to hardware store (so they could match size) and get a push fitting like this one. Then just stick two cleanly cut ends in and bob's your uncle.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:50 AM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is the piece you're missing: brass nipple. Thats the "male to male adapter" the installers mentioned.
posted by duckstab at 7:51 AM on October 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Forgot to mention... the tubing is OD 1/4 inch. So I would get something that says it's 1/4 inch, right?
posted by CottonCandyCapers at 7:57 AM on October 22, 2014

For $10-20, I'd buy a whole new line.

This is assuming you know the sizes of the two ends - I assume there's something like a hose-spigot with a bib that you screw one end of the line on (and the standard fridge nipple for the other end). Just make sure you have the right sizes and you're all done.

(The fridge manual should say the fridge's size, your hose-bib may be trial/error)
posted by k5.user at 8:19 AM on October 22, 2014

Duckstab has it. You are 90% there. Just need the thingy everything connects to in the middle.
posted by chasles at 8:30 AM on October 22, 2014

duckstab has it, the nipple should connect the two nuts just fine. You might want to put a couple of layers of Teflon tape around the nipple to keep it from leaking.

If you decide to replace the hose, I'd recommend a braided hose over the white plastic ones. I've had some of the plastic hoses split, never had a problem with the braided. Make sure you get one that's long enough to move the fridge without having to disconnect it.
posted by Marky at 8:33 AM on October 22, 2014

If it were me, I'd just buy a new plastic line and replace it -- and I'm no Mr. Fix-It either. It's not that expensive and eliminates one possible point for leaks (where you connected the two halves of the tubes) in the future.
posted by tckma at 9:49 AM on October 22, 2014

Personally, though, I prefer a copper icemaker line, like this one. You probably already have the valve installed, so it would just be a matter of connecting the copper line and saving the valve in case your valve fails in the future.

N.B. the type of icemaker valve they include with that kit is illegal in Massachusetts (I found this out only after I'd installed one and several years later went to sell my house in MA) -- it is, however, OK in all other states.
posted by tckma at 9:52 AM on October 22, 2014

I strongly recommend that you replace the whole length of tubing back to where it connects to a waterline. Generally speaking these things tend to leak at the fitting not from a hole in the line. Eliminating the coupling you are trying to install removes a potential trouble spot, new tubing should also be less prone to failure than old. I would also recommend going to a good hardware store instead of Home Depot. You can ask them instead of word gesticulating here, it will be much clearer for you that way.
posted by Pembquist at 11:14 AM on October 22, 2014

Seriously, don't cheap out on the fridge water line. I've had more than one acquaintance have major damage in their house due to a leak from one of these. The plastic lines are bad enough, but one that has been repaired seems like a terrible idea...
posted by primethyme at 11:15 AM on October 22, 2014

I've messed with pressing my own fittings, and there is a skill to it. Problem is, if you screw up, you could be looking at expensive damage.

The easiest thing ? Just buy a new water line with the fittings attached. Use some teflon tape, too.

10 bucks and easypeasy.

link is to the six foot, but they come in various lengths
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:01 PM on October 22, 2014

The instructions people are giving you on how to complete the repair you were recommended the first time are legit, though using brass fittings with plastic lines can be temperamental. The instructions telling you how to replace the entire line are accurate, too. But I'm kind of gathering you're not the "handy" type and that this stuff makes you nervous.

So here are some links to fix the thing with those stupidly easy push fittings I mentioned. To use these, just cut the ends you want to join so that they are nice, clean, even ends. Then push one into one end of this thing and the other into the other. Then turn the water back on and push your fridge back where it goes because you are done. No tools, no wrenches, no teflon tape, no tightening, nothing.

Here's the exact piece you'd need online for $1.62. It's $2.64 at Home Depot. Or, here it is on Amazon.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:06 PM on October 22, 2014

I was thinking of replacing the line with a more durable non-plastic water line

This is exactly what you should do. The plastic has already failed once. It only takes a pinhole to start a flood that might go on for hours while you're at work. Take everything back to HD (and they will take it back) and get a new braided line.
posted by sageleaf at 3:21 PM on October 22, 2014

Replace, preferably with metal (braided). The amount of times a fridge water line has broken and flooded a house should make the plastic lines go away forever. I'm surprised the insurance companies haven't started mentioning this actually. You've got full mains water pressure on that hose all the time, you don't want some cheap piece of crap. Also, every time that valves opens and closes, you get a nice pressure spike in the crappy plastic line.

Don't cheap out on anything connected to your main water supply. It will cause a fortune in damage and you will regret it. (Also counts for dishwasher supply hoses and washing machines)
posted by defcom1 at 6:19 PM on October 22, 2014

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