How to Stop Refrigerator Leaks

How to stop refrigerator leaks by Woodard Cleaning & Restoration in St. Louis, Mo.

So you've got the package of cookies open and your favorite recorded show on pause as you shuffle to the refrigerator for some milk and discover the bottom of your slipper socks soaking wet. A puddle of water has formed under your refrigerator. Whether you remedy the situation now or post-cookies, here are a few common issues you might see and how to stop refrigerator leaks.

Check the level of your fridge. Your refrigerator should actually be tipping back just slightly, so that water can flow from inside the fridge and down into the drain hole. Adjust the height of the front legs (or place shims underneath) to ensure the water has some place to go. (Plus, the tilt will help your doors swing shut more easily.)

Clear drainage line. The drain holes are at the rear of your refrigerator. To clear a path, push a pipe cleaner down through the tube. Pouring a soapy water and ammonia solution (1 part each) down your tube will remove any bacteria. If the tubes were clogged and you’ve solved the problem, your soapy ammonia solution will run down into your drain pan, where it will evaporate. Make sure the drainage tube is properly positioned over the drip pan. If not, that water could pool on the floor. It could also be that your tube is cracked or broken.

Ensure ample insulation. In addition to water under the refrigerator, is there condensation collecting on the outside of your unit as well? This could indicate you don’t have enough insulation protecting your fridge. If you can see light through any part of the door’s rubber gasket seal, it’s time to replace.

Test the drip pan. Your water woes may be due to a leaking drip pan. This is the tray behind the grill under your fridge that collects condensation from your drainage tube. Pull it out and test it by simply filling it with water. If it’s leaking, it’s time to replace.

Check the defrost drain. The defrost drain is a hole at the bottom of your fridge or freezer that empties water from the defrost cycle into the drip pan. It may have gotten clogged with food particles or dust. Clean the drain with hot water to loosen any debris.

Tighten valves. You may simply have an issue of loose valves. Tighten the water supply valve that connects the fridge water supply to the main copper line. If this connection is leaking and tightening the valve doesn’t solve the problem, you’ll need to replace the tubing.

Inspect the ice maker. Pull out your refrigerator and check the tubing connected to your ice maker. If the water supply tubing is loose and/or leaking, you’ve likely identified the issue. Another way to isolate the problem is to shut off water supply to your fridge. If the leak stops, your ice maker is probably the culprit.

Consider a new home for your unit. If you’ve tried everything else, the water under your refrigerator could be caused by its location. If your unit is kept in an unheated space, like a garage or basement, you may be accumulating too much condensation from the motor’s heat hitting the cold exterior of the fridge. You can either place a space heater near your fridge or consider moving it to a temperature controlled area.

So while there are a fair amount of troubleshooting tips covered here concerning refrigerator leaks, you still may need to contact a licensed plumber to diagnose and solve the problem. Be as specific as possible with the type of issue you’re having, where you’ve seen water pooling, etc. This will help the pro address the appropriate issue quickly.