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Our department just moved physical locations. We were able to bring the fridge from our previous break room, but our new location does not have a water line anywhere nearby for the ice maker. The simple solution, of course, is to just use ice cube trays, but I would really like it to be constantly producing ice (not have to rely on coworkers to refill the trays).

My thought is to get a 1-2 gallon container, and hook the water line into the bottom and then set it on top of the fridge. This way you can refill it in large quantities at once, rather than tray by tray. The container would be clear, to see the water level and to see if it needs to be cleaned, and with a lid to keep out dust. With the container sitting above the fridge, gravity should provide sufficient pressure to supply the maker with water.

Would such a system work? Does anybody see any potential problems with setting up something like this? Are there any better alternatives?

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Welcome. A phone call to the mfr might or might not reveal a minimum water pressure. There might be regulatory issues with health codes, or practical issues with bacteria over the long run, perhaps exacerbated by, for example, warm air from the mechanicals keeping the gallon container above room temperature. –  mike Oct 29 '13 at 23:56
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Do a test run. On many fridges, the tray will barely fill or the valve will not operate properly without sufficient pressure. –  Brock Adams Oct 30 '13 at 0:01
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Did you check with the building engineer? You may not be able to see any nearby waterlines, but there could be one in the walls or ceiling that you can't see. (of course, whether or not he's willing to tap into those lines for you is another story :) ) –  Johnny Oct 30 '13 at 0:18
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A photo would help. Commercial buildings often have lots of options for running things. A flex tube through a suspended ceiling for example. +1 on the concerns about bacteria over time. –  Bryce Oct 30 '13 at 4:06
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this GE document specifies a water pressure of 40-120 psi, for the ice maker to function properly.

  • The water pressure must be between 40 and 120 psi.
  • Pressures below 40 psi may cause a malfunction of the icemaker (i.e. producing hollow cubes or no ice production).

Which as BMitch points out in chat would mean the 1-2 gallon container would have to be about 100 ft. above the fridge.

Tester101: How tall would a 1/4" tube have to be, to produce 40 psi at the bottom if it was filled with water?

BMitch: if the link I found is correct, 93 feet

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Well I don't know what your budget is, but you could go ahead and get a keg and a compressed air tank and hook it up to the refrigerator! Easy 100psi, it'll make you 15 gallons of ice before refilling the keg (With water. The keg is to be filled with water. In case anyone missed that.)

Anyways now I have an awesome idea to use a fridge as a keg tap, if only I was in college where that'd be necessary.

Parts would be:

Really easy version: Buy an entire homebrewing kit including tank and just put water in instead of beer, hook output up to fridge input.

Easy version: Set regulator of the compressor to 50psi, connect hose directly to barbs of gas in port of the keg. Hook the output port up to the fridge input.

Hard version: Find a used compressor. Experiment with tightening the pressure switch until it turns off at 50psi. Remove compressor motor/pump assembly from tank, hook previous tank input up directly to keg, then keg output to fridge input.

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I am actually interested in trying this, though I think a keg would be too big. I'm also concerned that the pressurized water would be full of air, which would make the ice maker fail. Are there ways to pressurize water without mixing in air? –  Tyrsius Jun 9 at 1:28
    
Liquid can't really be compressed. A compressed liquid is normally a liquid with a solid or gas pushing down on it, and in the case of this setup, the air would just be pressurized at the top of the keg pushing down on the water. On a keg, the pickup for the liquid is at the bottom, so what happens is the pressurized air pushes the water through the spout at the bottom, then out to the fridge. –  kavisiegel Jun 10 at 20:32
    
So if the compressed air was above the water the whole thing would be fine? –  Tyrsius Jun 10 at 20:39
    
@Tyrsius Yep! Air "floats," being of a lower density than water. It's as if you attached a hose to the bottom of a water bottle, then blew air into the top of the water bottle - it would force water out of the hose. The most important hardware would be a keg coupler, which would have two ports - air in and water out. You can buy a compressor and hook it up to the keg full time, or you can buy a small tire compressor and wire up a pressure switch for a bit cheaper. –  kavisiegel Jun 11 at 14:21
    
Is a metal "keg" necessary, or would a plastic jug work? I don't think I have enough room for a 15 gallon drum above my fridge, but I could fit probably a 5 gallon jug and a compressor on top. –  Tyrsius Jun 11 at 16:15
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