Troubleshooting Refrigerator Leaks Troubleshooting Refrigerator Leaks

A leaky refrigerator should be fixed as soon as possible. Although there are many reasons why your refrigerator might be leaking, most of the common causes can be remedied within a few hours. From clogged evaporator tubes to leveling the unit, here is a quick guide to troubleshooting common refrigerator leaks.

Step 1 - Find the Leak Source

Unplug the refrigerator before you start troubleshooting for leaks. With the refrigerator powered down, check the water line that leads to the ice maker. If the line is dry, locate the drain for defrosted water. Water usually drains from a tube into the pan where the condenser fan motor slowly evaporates it. The excess water will not reach the pan if the tube is clogged, which results in a leaky refrigerator.

Step 2 - Clear the Freezer

Food stacked in a freezer.

The evaporator tube and drain is typically located at the bottom of the unit, though this will vary based on the manufacturer. To gain access to the components, you will likely need to open the freezer, which could end up spoiling any food located in the freezer. Depending on how the refrigerator is made, you may need to remove the contents in the freezer and place them in a cooler before moving on.

Step 3 - Drain the Line

After locating the evaporator line, remove the tube and place one end in a bucket to drain excess water. Then detach the upper part of the tube from the refrigerator. A common cause of blockage is frozen water that has built up in the lines. You can determine if the line contains frozen water by gently squeezing the line and looking for hard sections. If you find any blockages, heat up the problem area with a hair dryer until the tube is completely clean.

Step 4 - Clean the Line

After thoroughly draining the line, running hot water through the tube will help dislodge any remaining blockages. Place one end of the tube in an empty bucket and the other end at a sink. Make sure there is enough bucket space to capture the excess water. Repeat the process until the water is running freely through the tube.

Step 5 - Inspect the Drain Pan

Holes or cracks in the drain pan can also cause leaks under the refrigerator. Inspect the pan for problem areas and replace if necessary. You should also make sure the pan is installed correctly and that the evaporator tube has a clear path to the pan. If there is anything blocking the tube or if it placed incorrectly, then water will not properly drain and evaporate.

Step 6 - Check the Inlet Line

Leaks can also be caused by a blocked or cracked inlet line. The inlet line is essentially a drain inside the refrigerator that sends water down the evaporator tube. If the line is broken or frozen over, then water will not properly reach the tube. Replace this component if you notice any cracks and defrost with a hair dryer to remove any frozen chunks of water.

Step 6 - Reassemble

A repairman working on a fridge.

Once you have thoroughly cleaned and re-installed the evaporator tube and its components, it’s time to see if the leak is fixed. Plug in the fridge and re-fill it with food. Keep an eye out for leaks in the coming days and weeks. If cleaning out the evaporator line fixed the problem, then you might consider thawing the tube occasionally to prevent future ice buildups.

Other Leak Sources

There are other sources of water leakage than the defrost line. If the water line is wet, you may need to replace the ice maker or upgrade the water supply line. If you clean out the evaporator line and the fridge still leaks, the unit may be too level. The fridge should be slightly tilted towards the rear to allow the water to flow freely to the drain. You can check the tilt of the fridge with a level.

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