Garage Ice Maker, Anyone? Install a Water Line Anywhere With This Genius Hack

Without a nearby water line, we used this hack for our freestanding ice maker and it worked like a charm.
A commercial ice maker, a bottled water pump system, and a 5-gallon water jug are sitting on a garage floor.
Photo: Stephanie Cronk for Bob Vila

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Ice is a hot commodity in my household. Between the iced coffee habit of two adults and the hydration needs of two very active teenagers, our refrigerator ice maker cannot keep up—it only produces a tray of ice every 90 to 120 minutes.

For years, we had a portable ice maker, which helped quite a bit but took up a lot of counter space. Then, we were gifted a commercial ice maker, which was great, but quite a bit bigger than a household ice maker. After debating on where to install our new ice maker, we decided the most logical place was in our garage, which is just mere feet from our kitchen. The problem was that we had no water line accessible from the garage. But we figured out a way to hook up our ice maker without adding a water line. Even better, the process took less than 5 minutes and cost less than $70!

Pressurized Water and Water Source

A bottled water pump system is sitting next to a 5-gallon water jug on a garage floor.
Photo: Stephanie Cronk for Bob Vila

For the ice maker to work properly and trigger the ice-making process, the water line must produce enough pressure. If your ice maker is not working, it’s possible there is not enough pressure in the line. Typically, an ice maker requires water pressure between 30 and 120 pounds per square inch (PSI), or 207 to 827 kilopascals (kPa). We knew we couldn’t simply place the ice maker water line into a jug of water; we had to somehow create the needed pressure.

After some time researching, we stumbled upon bottled water pump systems, which are designed to re-create the pressure that a typical water line would create. Pump systems are popular for those who have hard water (as scale buildup can cause problems within an ice maker) or no water source (for example, when camping or off-grid). We knew we were on the right track, so we purchased a well-reviewed bottled water pump system.

The water source was an easy solution: We purchased a refillable 5-gallon water jug at our local hardware store. We knew we could swap out the jug as needed or even refill it with our own water, as we have an installed reverse osmosis system that filters our well water for drinking.

Get the TDRForce bottled water pump system at Amazon for $62.99.

Setting Up the Ice Maker

A woman is connecting a water line to a bottled water pump system.
Photo: Stephanie Cronk for Bob Vila

Once the pump arrived, we did not waste any time setting up the ice maker. The pump is incredibly easy to set up and install. After we unboxed it, the instructions were pretty self-explanatory. First, we had to tackle the water line installation, which consisted of connecting the water line from the pump to the back of the ice maker and inserting the pump wand into the 5-gallon jug of water.

It’s important to note that the water pump comes with a plug and collet. We had to push the collet firmly against the pump and pull the plug out. Once the plug was removed, we were able to push one end of the water line hose securely into the pump. We then pushed the opposite end into the ice maker until it clicked into place.

With the water line hose properly installed, it was time to add the water source. This involved removing the cap from the 5-gallon jug and inserting the water pump wand securely into the jug.

Testing the Process

A person attaching an ice maker water line pump to a water storage tank.
Photo: Stephanie Cronk for Bob Vila

Once the system was installed, it was time to turn on the pump and ice maker and see how everything worked. Instantly, the ice maker started to take water. Success! The entire setup process only took 5 minutes and cost less than $70. By comparison, the average cost to install a new water line can range up to $1,000 and beyond.

This trick is commonly used for camping sites, RVs, or in spaces where water lines are not accessible, like ours. You can use the bottled water pump system with a 5-gallon jug for refrigerator water lines, coffee makers, ice makers, and more. The pump’s suction wand is equipped with a buoy, so when the jug runs out of water, the pump automatically shuts itself off to prevent damage.

Get the TDRForce bottled water pump system at Amazon for $62.99.

A person is collecting ice in a commercial ice maker with a plastic hand scoop.
Photo: Stephanie Cronk for Bob Vila

The prices listed here are accurate as of publication on June 20, 2024.