Water pipe to refrigerator is hot water. Opinions?

We just bought a new refrigerator. One of the installation tasks was to run a couple of gallons of water through the water dispenser to clean it out. I noticed, and was initially alarmed, that the original builders actually tapped a hot water line to supply water to the fridge, since the water from the dispenser was hot.

After googling around a little, I found that there are differing opinions about this. Some people say tapping the hot water is better because: 1) clear ice cubes, 2) less sediment in water (sediment in hot water heater settles to the bottom, but hot water is pulled from the top of the tank), 3) Most of the water the refrigerator pulls will have cooled in the pipes.

On the other hand, the refrigerator manual says “running hot water to the refrigerator may cause damage”.

Does your house use the hot water tap for the refrigerator? What is your opinion about this issue?


Pretty sure mine uses cold.

At any rate, it’ll just make it all work harder because of the extra cooling needed, and can quite possibly cause big problems if your hot water is above some temp. I doubt they made all the tubing, etc… in the icemaker/water dispenser proof against 140 degree water, if they’re expecting water no colder than maybe 75.

No, all the ice makers are plumbed to cold water. I wouldn’t allow the use of hot water because I don’t want steaming hot water giving off more water vapor to become more frost the defrost system has to work harder to remove.

Besides, the water lines for the fridges also provide water for the through-door water dispensers and who wants a glass of blood-warm drinking water?

I have cold water going to my frig. The frig has a filter so I don’t have to worry about crap in the water getting to the drinking water or ice. Hot water will also cause ruin the filter if you have one causing the filter material (usually charcoal) to be dispensed with the water. I’m thinking the plumber made a mistake. I sent an email to a cousin that works as a plumber to see what he says.

I’ve always done the taps myself until this house and always used cold as instructed.

If this was only for Ice Cubes I would say it doesn’t matter much, but as also a water dispenser I think a hot water tap is just plain wasteful. The water in my dispenser gets used plenty during the day and especially in the evening. If the manufacturer suggest damage could happen, it is worth making the change.

I can’t really imagine a scenario where you actually pull a decent amount of hot water through the line even hooked up to the hot water. After the initial few gallons to clean it out you are going to use it for 20 ounces of water at a time. I think it’s a mess up and wouldn’t do it myself but I don;t know if it will have to many impacts.

I think the ‘hot water makes clear ice’ thing is urban legend. And most places recommend not drinking hot water because of sedimentation from the tank (as well as hot water being more effective than cold at pulling debris off from the inside of pipes, which you probably don’t want to drink.) Plus the energy thing. The whole thing sounds pretty counter-intuitive.

The OP’s situation was probably a mistake, and I agree that it’s generally a bad idea, but I’m wondering if the installer did this to keep the water dispenser line from freezing.

I have a GE refrigerator with the water dispenser built into the freezer door, and the damn thing is constantly freezing. This problem is so common that you can buy a tool designed to thaw frozen water dispensers. I’ve also learned that GE sells a repair kit that essentially involves putting a heating element inside the dispenser.

Do you have a water softener and is the fridge near the sink?
A lot of homes are built with the kitchen cold water tap bypassing the water softener to avoid using softened water for cooking. Perhaps that is the only cold water line in the kitchen and they wanted to avoid hooking it up to the fridge so the hard water mineral content didn’t corrode the fridge parts? So they ran the hot water line instead?
And like someone else mentioned, the fridge draws so little water at a time that it’s highly unlikely it would even be using any “hot” water but rather water that’s been sitting in the line for a while that had plenty of time to cool.

Remember Legionnaire’s Disease? Legionella is a bacteria that can survive in water heaters. You can catch it in the shower, inhaling water vapor. A quick look told me nothing about ingesting that water, or about other crud that might be similarly adapted to hot water, so maybe swallowing would be harmless.

Seventy-some years ago my grandmother, who never saw the inside of a high school, warned me against drinking hot tap water. Where’d that come from?

Just refrain from inhaling ice cubes.


I thought you weren’t supposed to consume hot tap water because of all the crap that leaches in from the water heater (have you ever seen the inside of an old water heater?). I had words with a room mate once who was making coffee from hot tap water. Turned out they just liked the taste.

I suspect whether you tap the hot water instead of cold wouldn’t matter much, because most of the time you are going to be using the water that has cooled down in the line anyway, depending on how far away from the freezer your hot water heater is.

Our fridge generally produces colder drinking water than the tap. I assume this is the result of the water lines running through the fridge or freezer. My guess is that the primary effect of tapping the hot water line would be to make the freezer work harder when it has hot water in the lines, and the added energy required to heat the water only to have it cooled down again before you use it. And also, hotter water could have more junk dissolved in it which could either change the taste, gum up the works when it chills down, or even be a little dangerous if you have poor wzter sources.

All these effects are likely small though, since we aren’t talking about a huge amount of water. If it’s already that way and everything seems fine, it might not be worth the hassle to fix it.

If you don’t want to change the line, perhaps install an inline filter? Unless your ice consumption is restaurant-scale, the filter element should last a long time.


Except for pitchers of water for table use or filling the ice tea drip machine.

If you have a standard water heater, using it for ice may allow more sediment in the water. If you have ever drained a water heater (should be done annually), you may have seen the calcium or other sediment deposits flowing out of the drain hose. These deposits accumulate at the bottom of the tank.

Every time hot water is used, it’s replaced with cold water entering the tank through a supply tube exiting at the bottom of the tank and this stirs up the sediment allowing smaller particles to flow to the faucet. In you case, they may find their way into the ice maker. I have never seen hot water used for an ice maker and you may want to switch to cold.

I don’t think most people fill those from the refrigerator door. I also think most people have to let at least 20 ounces of water run before they get hot water at the tap.

At 1.7 ounces per foot of 1/2 inch copper pipe, and a distance of 20 feet from the hot water tank. You would have 33 ounces of “hot” water that is room temp, plumbed in you walls next to 33 ounces of “cold” water that is also room temp. For most applications, I don’t believe the water temp reaching the refrigerator will be that much different.

Heard from my cousin. He said someone screwed up the plumbing. He has been a plumber for over 35 years and has never plumbed a hot water line for a refrigerator. He said there are probably hot and cold lines behind the wall and a rookie plumber installed a T in the wrong line or someone installed a T at the on the wrong shut off valve at the nearest sink. He also said an incorrectly installed hot water recirculation system could have caused this problem. He suggests calling a plumber.

Ah, “I don’t do it, and I’m going to project my experience into the hypothetical majority, so your argument is wrong.”

I do exactly what I said, and the question was originally about each individual’s experience. Argumentum ad populum is irrelevant here.

As to the “hot water probably isn’t hot most of the time”, very likely true. Unless I get a glass of water after running a pitcher of water. Which also happens.

I don’t believe the majority of people even own a ice tea drip machine or take pitchers of water to the table. Why do assume that they do? Why would you assume that people are getting greater then 30 ounces at a time? The recessed area is made for a common drinking glass.

Why don’t you fill big pitchers out of the sink?

To answer your points, and some of the other questions that have come up: The water line to the refrigerator does not come from the kitchen sink, and it would be very hard to connect it from there. Although it’s more complicated than this, think of the sink as being on an island and the refrigerator against the back wall. There is no easy path to get water from the sink to the fridge. We’re on a slab, so there is no basement or crawl space to route the lines.

The fridge is against a wall with a bathroom shower on the other side of the wall. The shower is one of the those single-piece plastic tub / shower combinations. The water line to the fridge is a short length of copper tubing (with a brass ball valve shutoff) just sticking out of the sheetrock. I don’t know how far away the copper tubing is connected to the actual water line. It’s very possible the tubing runs along behind the back wall of the shower and then “turns the corner” to connect to the water lines running to the toilet or sink. It could be quite an involved (and expensive) job to switch it to cold water.

The original fridge lasted over 20 years with this configuration. I’m tempted to just let sleeping dogs lie.