A coworker mentioned that he was having a refrigerator delivered and his weekend project was connecting the water supply line. I told him to grab a saddle valve and turn his weekend project into an hour-long project. Saddle valves make it easy to tap into water supply lines. Here’s how to install one and a couple of things to keep in mind.
Refrigerator Water Supply
Most modern refrigerators include filtered water and an ice dispenser. For that to work, the refrigerator is equipped with a flexible, 1/4″ water supply line on the backside. The only question is how to attach it to your water system. Assuming copper pipe, you could solder a new junction, which is time consuming and messy. Fortunately, there’s an easier way.
Self-Tapping Saddle Valves
Just like the name implies, these valves look like a saddle seated on top of a pipe. They are secured in place with two bolts that tighten around the pipe, compressing a small rubber gasket. It’s called self-tapping because there is a pin that pierces the pipe and acts as an on/off valve.
Saddle valves are intended be installed on a cold water supply line (usually copper only). They very easy to install and designed to accommodate copper, brass, aluminum, and thermoplastic refrigerator lines.
Easy Step for Installing a Saddle Valve
Plan the location
Before you start clamping the valve anywhere, take some time to plan out a location. They work best on 3/4″ or 1/2″ diameter pipe. Make sure it’s not downstream from a valve that you turn off seasonally (i.e. exterior hose connection). Pick a location that you’ll be able to access for future maintenance and that allows enough slack to move the fridge if needed.
I installed my saddle valve in my basement, below my refrigerator. That meant drilling a hole through my ceramic floor and subfloor.
Step 1: Shut off the water
Shut of the water and turn on a faucet to drain the pipe / relieve the pressure.
Step 2: Clean the pipe
Clean away any dust or dirt on the pipe that might prevent the valve from forming a watertight seal.
Step 3: Install the valve
Place the top portion of the valve above the pipe and slide the lower piece in place, through the bolts. Tighten both sides equally, taking care to not over tighten or crush the pipe. Make sure the rubber gasket is well seated against the pipe. Connect the 1/4″ fridge supply line using Teflon plumbers taps around the threads.
Step 4: Puncture the pipe
Tighten the pin to puncture the water pipe. It takes a lot of turning but don’t rush it. Next, back the pin all the way out.
Step 5: Turn on the water
Keep an eye out for any leaks. The most common trouble spots are where the at the rubber gasket, the packing nut that holds the valve handle to the valve body, and the water line connection.
What do you think? Ever install a saddle valve?