How to Use a Saddle Valve to Connect an Ice Maker or Humidifier (2024)

When running a water supply tube to a new appliance, you'll need a way to tap into an existing water supply pipe. Aneasy way to do this on a copper pipe is by using a special fitting known as a saddle valve or needle valve.The saddle valve adds a new water supply line for appliances like refrigerators with ice makers and water dispensers.

Once the valve is attached to the water supply pipe by means of its saddle bracket, the sharp valve needle is then screwed down to puncture the wall of the pipe and tap its water supply.

Most saddle valves are designed to work with standard rigid copper pipes, but there are some that can work with PVC, CPVC, or PEX plastic pipe. They are also designed for water systems with a maximumpressure of no more than 125 psi.

What Is Maximum Psi of a System?

Water pressure is measured in pounds per square inch, or psi, using a pressure gauge. Most residential water pressure systems should be between 45 and 80 psi; water pressure above that can damage home plumbing.

What Is a Saddle Valve?

A saddle valve is essentially a type of needle valve. Needle valves are typically used to regulate small amounts of gas and liquid. Unlike traditional needle valves, saddle valves are equipped to handle large amounts of water like a refrigerator line.

Safety Considerations

Any plumber or building inspector will tell you that saddle valves are prone to leaking. Although plenty of saddle valves have worked reliably and leak-free for many years, pipes can unpredictably swell and contract with temperature changes, allowing water leaks.

Due to the mixed track record of these devices, it's best to use them only where they are completely visible and can be inspected periodically. Never install a saddle valve where it is concealed inside a wall or floor cavity.

Leaks in hidden locations are likely to cause significant damage before they are detected. In fact, keep in mind that saddle valves are banned in many localities, because they can cause undetected water leaks. Look up local legal codes to determine whether saddle valves are prohibited in your region before you begin.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Fine wet/dry sandpaper or steel wool
  • Screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench

Materials

  • Saddle valve kit
  • Water supply tubing

Instructions

How to Install a Saddle Valve

How to Use a Saddle Valve to Connect an Ice Maker or Humidifier (1)

  1. Turn off the Water

    • Shut off the water supplyto the water pipe being tapped.
    • If there is no shutoff valve that can turn off the pipe locally, turn off the water to the entire house at the main shutoff valve.
    • In either case, relieve pressure in the water lines by opening the lowest faucet in the house.

    How to Use a Saddle Valve to Connect an Ice Maker or Humidifier (2)

  2. Prepare the Pipe

    • Make sure the water pipe is clean and smooth along the section where you will be attaching the valve.
    • If necessary, lightly sand the area with fine wet/dry sandpaper or fine steel wool to clean the pipe.

    How to Use a Saddle Valve to Connect an Ice Maker or Humidifier (3)

  3. Mount the Valve

    • Make sure the needle is completely retracted into the saddle valve before starting.
    • Place the rubber washer or gasket on theunderside of the top bracket of the saddle valve so its opening is directly aligned with the needle on the valve.
    • Fit the top and bottom brackets of the saddle valve around the water supply pipe and hold them in place.
    • Insert the bolts down through the holes on the top bracket and thread them into the holes on the bottom bracket until they are hand-tight.

    Tip

    Some saddle valves have nuts that tighten against the bottom of the bottom bracket.

    • Use a screwdriver to tighten the bolts completely, alternating side-to-side so the brackets are tightened evenly on both sides of the pipe.
    • The rubber washer under the top bracket should compress slightly against the water pipe.

    Warning

    Be careful not to overtighten; it is possible to crush the copper pipe.

    How to Use a Saddle Valve to Connect an Ice Maker or Humidifier (4)

  4. Install the Water Supply Tube

    • Fit the compression nut and compression sleeve onto the water supply tube so the tapered (narrower) part of the sleeve faces the end of the tube (plastic or nylon tubing may also have a brass insert to stiffen the end of the tubing).
    • Insert the water supply tube into the threaded outlet on the saddle valve, push the sleeve against the outlet, then screw the compression nut onto the threaded outlet.
    • Tighten the nut by hand until snug, then use an adjustable wrench to tighten the nut another one-half turn.

    How to Use a Saddle Valve to Connect an Ice Maker or Humidifier (5)

  5. Pierce the Pipe

    • Turn the saddle valve handle clockwise slowly. You should be able to feel the needle force its way into the copper pipe.
    • Keep turning the handle until it stops.

    How to Use a Saddle Valve to Connect an Ice Maker or Humidifier (6)

  6. Turn on the Water

    • With the saddle valve still in the off position (turned fully clockwise), turn on the water supply to the pipe.
    • Inspect the valve and check all around the saddle valve for leaks.

    How to Use a Saddle Valve to Connect an Ice Maker or Humidifier (7)

  7. Connect the Supply Tube

    Complete the water connection by attaching the opposite end of the water supply tube to the appliance you are feeding.

    How to Use a Saddle Valve to Connect an Ice Maker or Humidifier (8)

  8. Open the Saddle Valve

    • Confirm that all connections are tight. Open the saddle valve fully by turning the handle counterclockwise until it stops.
    • Check again for leaks at all connections.

    How to Use a Saddle Valve to Connect an Ice Maker or Humidifier (9)

When to Call a Professional

Installing a saddle valve is a fairly easy task, but it's still a good idea to at least consider calling a professional. Improperly installed saddle valves cause leaks, so this isn't a DIY project to be taken lightly if you are inexperienced. When in doubt, simply hire a pro to do the job.

And if you are concerned that you may have installed a saddle valve poorly already or that there may be a leak, call a professional to check on it and correct any mistakes before they become costly.

FAQ

  • Can a saddle valve be shut off?

    Yes, a saddle valve can be shut off. To shut off a saddle valve, turn the handle clockwise.

  • Can a saddle valve be used on a PVC or PEX pipe?

    Some saddle valves can be used on a PVC or PEX pipe, although most are designed to be used with rigid copper pipes.

  • What alternatives are there to saddle valves?

    Due to plumbing code restrictions in certain areas, installers are required to use T-valves instead of saddle valves. T-valves, unlike saddle valves, are not prone to leaking. Although T-valves are slightly more expensive to install, the guarantee that you won't face unexpected costs due to water damage makes this a good alternative.

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How to Use a Saddle Valve to Connect an Ice Maker or Humidifier (2024)
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