Last year water started appearing under our fridge. Because I live in the world of denial, I’d mop it up and think, “I wonder how that happened?” and ignore it, hoping it would somehow solve itself (I’m still doing this with the oven door lock for self-cleaning mode, which no longer locks – but I keep hoping!). After about the fifth time of finding water under the fridge, I realized I actually had to do something about it. So I started doing some research and discovered there are a few reasons why water might be appearing.  Below are the common causes and solutions for water under your fridge.

Fridge/Freezer door isn’t completely closed

When the door isn’t properly closed, condensation will build up where room temperature air meets colder air escaping from the fridge or freezer. Many newer fridge models have a door alarm that can help ensure your fridge door is shut. If the fridge door isn’t closed properly, your fridge’s cooling system will work extra hard to keep the temperature at the desired level. If it’s the freezer it’s more of a challenge because ice can build up where the door closes creating a layer of ice.  Any ice build-up on the outside of the freezer will melt and pool below the fridge.

Solution: Clean the door seal and fridge/freezer body with warm water, and wipe dry, ensuring it’s completely dry before closing it. To make sure the seal is tight, put a flashlight in the fridge or freezer facing towards the door. Close the door and look for any light escaping. If there’s light, you’ll either need to your gasket may need replacing. Check to make sure the fridge is level. One serviceman told me to keep our fridge at a very slight angle with the front legs higher than the back so the fridge door closed with the help of gravity.

Water flowing out of the fridge or ice building up on bottom of fridge or freezer

This could be due to a blocked drain hole. Water condenses in the fridge as it is cooled and is guided to a drain hole at the bottom and back of the fridge. If this hole has become blocked with food or debris, water will pool under the crisper and can leak out onto the floor.

Soloution: Unblock the drain hole or the drain line (if not visible) and thoroughly clean (without bleach) to prevent bacteria and mould buildup.

A leak in the water line to the fridge

I have a friend whose basement was ruined due to a leak in the water line that fed her main floor kitchen refrigerator. They’d gone to work for the day and come home to the sound of water spraying. The water line that fed the refrigerator’s ice-maker had burst. Water had seeped through the floor into the basement below and soaked the basement carpet, furniture and drywall. Not all waterline bursts are this obvious or immediate. Sometimes, an attachment will wear, the hose is older and will crack, or the bolt has come loose. If it’s a small drip, you may not even notice it until a puddle forms under the fridge.

Solution: The water lines are located at the back of the fridge, so you may need help pulling the fridge out. Check the water lines and valve attachments to ensure they’re dry. Sometimes all they need is tightening. If there is a crack in the water line, it will need to be replaced. Check out Sears PartsDirect to find out what part number you need, or call in a technician.

Cracked Drip pan

The drip pan catches condensate from the fridge and the heat from the condenser evaporates the water before it builds up. If there’s a crack in the drip pan (also called a drain pan or drip tray), water will pool on the floor. To check for this you’ll have to find out where your drip pain is located, sometimes it’s accessible from the front lower grill beneath the fridge and sometimes it’s accessible from the back.

Solution: If you don’t have your original appliance manual check here to find yours. It should be able to help you locate the drip tray on your fridge. Carefully (sometimes it will still have some water in it) pull the drip pan out and check for leaks on the pan.

Note: There’s a specific problem with a Kenmore/Whirlpool/Maytag side by side fridge from a few years ago. The design of the drain hose to the drip tray was such that it froze and prevented the water from draining. The drain hose needs to be replaced with one with a p-trap. See the video below for fixing the problem (and enjoy the repairman who has the hiccups 🙂 ).

Safety tips before you start

Always unplug your refrigerator before taking it apart for inspection.

Turn off the water line that leads to the fridge.

Refrigerators are heavy, use caution when moving or tilting.

Remove food and place in another refrigerator, or cooler with ice to preserve food while working on fridge

If in doubt, call in an experienced technician.

Have an appliance question or story? Share it on our forum!

For more information on refrigerators, check out all our refrigerator articles

Resources:

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/leak-coming-bottom-fridge-70408.html

https://www.cnet.com/how-to/three-common-refrigerator-problems-you-can-easily-fix-yourself/

http://www.talklocal.com/blog/2012/08/s/plumbers/water-leaking-from-under-refrigerator/

https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/interior-projects/how-to/a4194/4314220/

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