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Appliance Repair | Why Is My Refrigerator Leaking Water?

Feb 23


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A puddle under the fridge, or inside it, is unfortunate but certainly not uncommon. A dirty defrost drain is the most common culprit for leaking refrigerators, as this important gadget is constantly controlling frost and condensation. However, there are several other potential causes of a fridge leak. So, grab some towels to soak up the leak, and let the investigation begin!  

Troubleshooting a Refrigerator Leaking Water Inside the Unit 

The first step to solving the issue is identifying where the water is coming from. Is it dripping from the fridge ceiling? Is it pooling under the produce drawer? Unplug your fridge for safety, check various areas for leaking, and try any of these steps that apply to your situation: 

  1. Unclog the condensation drain. In most fridge models, you’ll find the condensation drain just above the produce drawers. You may have to remove the drawers and shelf to see the access hole. There are ledges on either side of the hole to collect condensation from the walls of the refrigerator and drain the liquid down to the drain pan beneath, where it can evaporate back into the air. Use a drain snake to push dirt through to clear the hole. 

  1. Check the ice maker. Check if your ice maker is working properly. If it is, your issue is probably elsewhere. If, however, your ice maker is not making ice as it should be, you can check if the water supply line or valve is frozen. You may also need professional help with an ice maker repair if the issue isn’t evident or involves toxic coolant. 

  1. Look for frozen water lines. If your refrigerator has a water dispenser, it’s possible the water lines have frozen, and the blocked water found another way to leak out. Defrosting your fridge (see instructions below) and turning the temperature setting down slightly should take care of this.  

  1. Test the door seal. If your door gasket is losing its seal, moisture may be entering your fridge and causing excess condensation that pools in the fridge. Close the refrigerator door on a dollar bill to see if you can easily pull the money out. If you can, the seal is shot, and you should have it replaced. 

  1. Fully defrost the refrigerator. If all else fails, take everything out of your fridge, unplug it, and leave it for 8 to 12 hours. There may be ice buildup inside the machine that needs to defrost. Put down a towel to catch the water. We have detailed fridge defrosting and maintenance tips here.  

  1. Seek professional inspection and repair. There are numerous reasons your fridge may be leaking and many of them are not easy to fix. Calling qualified experts, like your local Mr. Appliance®, for professional fridge inspection and repair is the most efficient way to fix the problem. 


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Troubleshooting a Refrigerator Leaking Water on the Floor 

Perhaps an interior leak isn’t an issue with your fridge and instead you’ve noticed the refrigerator leaking from the bottom, onto the floor. First off, make sure the liquid is water and not coolant. Coolant would have an odor and a greasy residue—both of which you should stay far, far away from! If it is coolant, open some windows, go outside, and contact an appliance professional immediately to properly contain and dispose of the toxic liquid.  

If the leak is just water, your refrigerator might need one of these repairs: 

  • Repair water supply lines. If your fridge has a water dispenser, it’s possible the water lines broke and are spilling water. If this is the case, the only fix is replacing the lines, which is a job for an expert. 

  • Address high humidity. When your home is very humid, some of that moisture will get into your fridge and cause excessive condensation that doesn’t evaporate from the drain pan as quickly as it should. You can fight this by emptying the pan on humid days. You may also consider installing a dehumidifier to keep the humidity levels down in your home. 

  • Fix or clean the drain pan. The drain pan holds small amounts of water until it can evaporate, but if the pan is damaged, rusted, or clogged with food and dirt, the water may drip onto the floor. A good cleaning of the pan may solve this, but a damaged pan will need to be professionally replaced.    

Related Topic: Why Is My Washing Machine Leaking?  

Is the Refrigerator Leaking Water from the Freezer Instead? 

It’s possible the culprit isn’t in the fridge at all. If the water appears to be dripping from the freezer area, the issue could be a buildup of ice or dirt in the defrost drain from the freezer. To troubleshoot this, locate the defrost drain in the top of your refrigerator. You may have to remove the light from the ceiling to see it. There is a small elbow that connects the drain to the back of the fridge. Unblock the elbow with a cotton swab or pencil tip. If the issue persists, you’ll likely need a professional’s assistance.  

A defrost could also be the solution if there is excess ice in the freezer. If this doesn’t seem to work, you may be dealing with a faulty ice maker part, such as the thermostat or heating element. Replacing those parts is not a DIY project.  


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