Saddle valves; what could possibly go wrong?

You need to install a water line for your ice maker, but you don’t consider yourself a plumber.

The idea of sweating  joints is a bit intimidating to folks without any experience. And what about the equipment; torch, solder, flux etc. that you need- when are you going to use that stuff again?

Saddle valves to the rescue? A saddle valve is a valve that is clamped to a pipe from both sides (like a saddle), with a tiny needle in it. The required tools are a pair of pliers and screwdriver to tighten the carriage bolts. You don’t have to turn the water off. Attach the water line, then turn the valve clockwise. It will pierce the copper pipe. Then turn the valve counter-clockwise. This will draw out the needle, and water will begin to flow through the tube to the ice maker. It isn’t a lot of water at a time, but who cares? You’re filling an ice cube tray, not a bath tub. A Google search shows them available for around $9.00.

Here’s the whole list of reasons to consider using one; 

  • Saddle valves are easy to install.

The list of reasons for not using one isn’t any longer, but more compelling;

  • They often leak.

They don’t all leak, and the water flow would be very low, but still. Come on. 

There is an alternative, created for the homeowner with projects too small to justify hiring a plumber. You can buy push-to-connect fittings that work on copper and PEX water lines, and only take a few more minutes to install. And you don’t need special tools, other than a pipe cutter, which only costs a couple of bucks. You will need to have the water shut off. and please be sure to remove any burrs on the pipe you cut. You will want a good fit. That’because once you push the pipe into the fitting, it’s there for good. There’s no re-positioning.  There are several brands of push-to-connect fittings. Sharkbite and Gatorbite are popular choices. 

The valve itself is very straightforward; The water line you will be drawing from is most likely 1/2″, and the water line to the ice maker is 1/4″. You will need pliers and/or an adjustable wrench. A Google search shows tons of U tube videos on just how easy one is to install.