How to Shut off a Saddle Valve on a Refrigerator

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The saddle valve controls the water to the refrigerator.
Image Credit: TARIK KIZILKAYA/E+/GettyImages

A refrigerator with an ice maker or a water dispenser needs to be connected to the water supply in order to work. The water feed to a refrigerator is usually connected with a saddle valve, which is where you can find the refrigerator water shut-off valve.

The saddle valve is usually installed on a nearby pipe under the kitchen sink but is sometimes installed in the basement. Locating the water shut-off valve to the refrigerator can often be the most difficult part of turning on and shutting off the water supply.

What Is a Saddle Valve?

A saddle valve kind of looks like a horse saddle and fits over the water pipe similar to the way a saddle fits on a horse. Saddle valves can be used on appliances such as humidifiers but are most commonly used with refrigerators. A saddle valve is installed by locating an accessible pipe in the area of the refrigerator. Usually a hole must be drilled in a cabinet or in the floor to make a pipe accessible, which is what can make locating the water shut-off valve to the refrigerator a little difficult.

The saddle valve is clamped on to a water pipe. Also known as a refrigerator water shut-off valve, most saddle valves are self-piercing. This means that, once clamped on the pipe, the valve handle can be tightened until it pierces the pipe with no drilling or cutting involved. A flexible copper, vinyl or stainless steel pipe is connected to the saddle valve and run to the back of the refrigerator. When the valve is opened, water is supplied to the refrigerator.

A refrigerator water shut-off valve should be installed on a cold water pipe because you don't want to feed your ice maker or water dispenser with hot water. Self-piercing saddle valves are designed to fit on copper or brass pipes and cannot be used with PEX water pipe, according to Natural Handyman. It is often recommended to use a large saddle valve with a 1/4-inch supply line to avoid clogs in the line.

Shutting Off a Saddle Valve

Step 1: Locate the Water Line

Turn off the ice maker to prevent it from cycling on and off. On the back of your refrigerator, locate the water supply line for the ice maker and water dispenser. It will be either a 3/8-inch or a 1/4-inch pipe made of flexible copper, poly or stainless steel.

Step 2: Find the Saddle Valve

Once you locate the supply line, follow it back until you find the saddle valve. Look to see if the pipe runs through a hole in a side cabinet, which usually means the saddle valve is located under the kitchen sink or a hole in the floor leading to the saddle valve in the basement. Remember that the saddle valve will be installed on a cold water pipe.

Step 3: Turn the Handle Clockwise

After locating the saddle valve, turn off the water supply to the refrigerator by turning the saddle valve handle clockwise. You may get a little bit of water from the valve's packing nut as you close it. If so, it should stop leaking once the valve is fully closed.

Step 4: Use Pliers if Needed

Once you are ready to turn the water supply back on, do so by turning the saddle valve handle clockwise. If the handle is hard to turn on or off, you can use a pair of pliers to turn it. Just be careful because saddle valve handles are thin and can bend or break if turned too hard.

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Damon Koch

Damon Koch has years of writing experience ranging from software manuals to song lyrics. His writing has appeared in software manuals for Human Arc and on the CDs "Small Craft Advisory" and "Impersonating Jesus." He also has worked in building maintenance since 2004. He has attended Lorain County Community College as well as Cleveland State University.