Should water stream from unconnected fridge line when faucet is on?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by Glenn Pillsbury, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. Glenn Pillsbury

    Glenn Pillsbury New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    California
    Hi all,

    We're about to start renting a house. When we toured the place I saw the copper water line for the refrigerator (we have to bring our own fridge). However, when we turned on the kitchen faucet, water streamed out of the line and onto the floor. I am not experienced at all with kitchen plumbing, but it seemed strange even to me that an unconnected fridge line would spew water, and it also seemed strange that the fridge line will only receive water if the faucet is turned on. Does this sound right?

    The house was built in 1959, so the water line is likely an aftermarket add-on. I have asked the property manager about this, but since we have to bring our own fridge I wanted to if there was something special the installers needed to know about the hook-up before the fridge arrives.

    Thanks for you help.

    Glenn
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,308
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    What they did was to tee off of the cold water line to the sink after the shut off valve. While it does seem to work as long as everything is connected, it's not the conventional way to connect the ice maker for the very reason you have discovered. The regular way is to connect to the main supply line with a tee and a valve. The way most folks do it is incorrect, they use a saddle valve that punches a hole in the supply line. It usually will fail sooner or later. The best way is with a tee followed by a ball valve and then reduce to the copper tube for the ice maker. This costs a few dollars more and takes a few minutes longer, but it is the professional way to do it.
  3. Glenn Pillsbury

    Glenn Pillsbury New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    California
    Thanks, Gary. I appreciate the speedy response.

    So they should have tee'd off *before* the sink shut off valve. Ok. I think I understand.

    When you say "it does seem to work," that's only if the kitchen faucet is turned on, right? Theoretically it's possible that the ice maker (or fridge water dispenser) will "run out" of water if we never turn on the kitchen faucet. I say "theoretically" but I'm a web programmer so I prefer things to be logical!

    Is it worth bringing up as a potential failure of any type? Is it an expensive job to move the tee from after the shut off valve to before it? I assume the cold water line would need to be completely replaced under the sink...

    Thanks again!
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,799
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    You could run down to the hardware store and pick up a 1/4" OD compression shutoff.
    Put that on the end of the copper and you will then have a separate shutoff.
  5. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    My guess is that they did shut off a dual outlet angle stop on the COLD water under the sink. When you turned on the faucet to a warm setting, HOT water crossed over to the cold lines.
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,293
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Using a "dual outlet" stop under the sink on the cold water is a VERY common way to attach the line for the refrigerator. Just leave the water off until you either cap the pipe or install the refrigerator. You WILL NOT run out of water if you do not use the sink faucet.
  7. Smooky

    Smooky Member

    Messages:
    569
    Location:
    NC
    My thought is that the pipe to the refrigerator is tied into the cold water line just after the cold water turn-off valve under the sink. Since the refrigerator pipe is disconnected the cold valve had to be turned off. But the hot valve to the sink was left turned on. When you operate the sink faucet the hot crosses into the cold side and goes out to the line that is suppose to go to the refrigerator. Water takes the path of least resistance, some goes out the spout and some flows out the refrigerator line. Once you hook up your refrigerator and turn on the cold valve under the sink every thing should work ok. I hope this helps.
  8. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,824
    Location:
    New England
    It's much nicer when each appliance has its own shutoff...they're easy to install and readily available.
  9. kreemoweet

    kreemoweet New Member

    Messages:
    371
    Location:
    Seattle. WA
    C'mon now, this is clearly a plumbing defect, and the landlord should fix it. What if you didn't have an icemaker? What if the
    icemaker or the supply line sprang a leak? You would have to shut off the supply to the sink and leave it that way till somebody
    got around to fixing it.
  10. Glenn Pillsbury

    Glenn Pillsbury New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    California
    Thanks for all the replies. I'm sorry I haven't responded sooner.

    If you suggested that the water was crossing over the faucet and going down the cold pipe and out the copper tube, thanks to the cold being shut off temporarily, you were correct. The tapping was proper after all.

    You learn something new every day...
  11. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    We appreciate the update...thank you.

    The landlord was careless.... because we can envision a scenario where the water under the sink gets turned back on, and the water flows un-noticed from the un-capped frig. line.
  12. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,293
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; and the water flows un-noticed from the un-capped frig. line.

    It would not be "unnoticed" long, especially if there is just an open space where the refrigerator is supposed to be.
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