Refrigerator Leaking Water

Refrigerator Leaking Water

nicO and 3 contributors
Last updated on

The first thing to do is try and figure out where the water is coming from. There are three basic leak sources: the defrost system, the ice maker, and the water dispensing system. Leaks in the freezer will always result in sheets of ice or an ice bucket with a large amount of solid ice in the bottom.

  • Power cycle your refrigerator to see if you can clear any control board transients.
  • Before you do anything else, check any water containers in the refrigerator for pinhole leaks. These can be very frustrating and can be mistaken for other kinds of leaks.
  • Your next move should be to turn off the water supply to the fridge.
    • If you don't have an ice maker or water dispenser, then the source for leaking water is either a container or the defrost drain. Go to Plugged Defrost Drain to start.
  • If you do have a water supply to the fridge, turn it off and see if the leak stops. If it does, you know that the problem has to do with either the ice maker (likely) or the water dispensing system.

Causes

1

This is the first place to check when a refrigerator is leaking. Generally, the leak will show up inside the freezer and fresh food compartments. You may find ice building up in the bottom of your freezer.

In top-mount freezer models, water will frequently drip from the vents at the top of the fresh food compartment. So, the upper shelves will get wet, and then the lower shelves. The defrost drain in these models is long, runs behind the back wall of the fresh food compartment, and is more prone to freezing because it is in a cooler environment.

Bottom freezer models will also ice as well, but the tube is short and near the condenser, which keeps the tube warm. They may be more prone to plugs of debris at the bottom of the tube. This may be because the water doesn't come from as high up as a top freezer model, which helps push clogs through.

A turkey baster is very handy for getting hot water right onto the spot you need to melt ice. It can also remove standing water.

You can try setting up a forced defrost, but it may be simpler to just empty the fridge and do a manual defrost.

  • You will need to remove the evaporator cover to check the drain tube. If your refrigerator has dual evaporators, you will want to check both evaporator drains.
  • At the same time as you check the drain tube, you will want to remove any ice buildup on the defrost coils. This is a sign of either a failing defrost system or perhaps the door was left open, possibly only a small amount for a long time.
  • Use a steamer to remove ice on the evaporator coils. Do not use a heat gun, and avoid a hairdryer, as you can inadvertently warp plastic components unless you use great care. Further, a steamer is faster. If you don't have one, use large bowls of hot water placed in the bottom of the freezer. Have sponges or towels ready to soak up the water.
  • If the drain has frozen, you may want to consider taking a piece of wire and hanging it off the defrost heater and into the drain tube. Some refrigerators have a small piece of aluminum that hangs down into the tube a short distance to prevent freeze-up. For Samsung refrigerators, see the guide below

If the defrost drain looks fine as far as ice goes, pour hot water down the drain to flush it. If the hot water overflows. You may have a debris plug.

  • You will need to open the rear machinery cover and check the drain tube for clogs.
  • You can cut the restraining cable tie and remove the tube to check for a clog. You might want to use a piece of solid wire on long tubes that can't be removed with the tip bent over on itself to keep from puncturing the tube.

Here's a video showing icing taking place on the fresh food evaporator in a dual evaporator unit. Note the care removing the Ice. Wood pieces are probably safer than pliers to remove ice.

Samsung Refrigerator

Follow this guide to replace the drain evaporator clip to facilitate better heating

If the drain checks out, move on to the next item.

2

You may notice a puddle on the floor that seems to come from or extend under the refrigerator. Your defrost water tray under the fridge may be cracked or warped and leaking when the defrost cycle runs.

  • Remove the bottom grille on your fridge.
  • Pull out the tray and inspect it for cracks. You might want to fill it with water and set it down to see if it leaks.
  • No leaks; go on to the next item.
3

A number of things can cause a leaking ice maker. Generally, ice maker problems result in ice buildup in the freezer or ice bucket.

Some in-door ice makers may leak, and the leak will run down the inside of the door and end up on the floor. Water collecting in the fresh food compartment near the bottom of the door with the ice maker in it is a sign of this.

Move from item to item below to check for possible leak sources.

Overfilling

Your ice maker may be overfilling. This may be a setting issue, or the fill valve is struggling to close. Low water pressure and debris in the valve can also cause this.

Fill Tube Problems

If the water doesn't flow into the ice mold when filling, the only outcome is a leak.

Misaligned Fill Tube

Samsung has this problem frequently, especially if the ice maker has been moved. The fill tube is long and has to be precisely aimed. This is uncommon for LG models, as their fill tubes are so short. You should observe the fill cycle if possible. You may have to use magnets and tape or tape door switches down so that the ice maker will operate. If the doors are sensed open, the ice maker will not cycle. If it looks good, go to the next item.

Frozen Fill Tube

This happens occasionally, and the two main issues are a bad heater (some models do not have this) or low pressure. Low pressure causes the fill valve not to shut completely (water pressure helps to hold them shut), and they leak. The leaking water freezes in the tube and either blocks it or deflects the flow, and you get a leak.

  • You need a minimum of 20PSI at the fill valve.
  • Look for self-piercing valves that are installed by clamping onto a water supply line, and the valve has a barb that pierces the line. (notorious for causing pressure loss).
  • Look for a kinked supply line to the fridge (especially copper tubing), which will lower pressure.
  • Replace the water filter, as an older filter can contribute to pressure loss.
  • Check the water inlet valves to make sure they are opening fully.
    • You may want to detach the outlet tube from the valve and compare the flow to the inlet side.
    • Shut off the water when you disconnect the inlet side, or you will have a huge mess. Then, turn it back on with the inlet tube in a bucket and check the flow.
  • Go on to the next item.

Mineral Buildup on Outlet

If you have hard water, a mineral buildup can cause the water to be deflected when filling and leak into the freezer. There is a video linked below.

Cracked Ice Mold

Twist-tray-type ice makers can have issues with cracked trays as they age and get brittle. The twisting action can crack them, so they leak when filled.

Observe the unit in operation using a test button usually found on the side of the unit, and check for leaks.

Iced Up Ice Maker

If ice becomes stuck in the ice maker, it will cause the water from filling it to run over and down into the ice bucket. You can try cleaning everything up on models with a craft ice maker (hollow cubes), but you may need to replace the ice maker. Here's a video!

If you don't find any problems with the ice maker, move on to the next item.

4

When the dispensing system leaks, it frequently forms a puddle on the floor. Leak sources include the filter cartridge seal, the spout, cracked valve bodies, fittings, and damaged tubing.

The filter cartridge seal on units with in-door filters can leak.

  • Install a new cartridge if you suspect a leak.
  • If it doesn't go away, then replacing the cartridge seal unit is in order.

The spout can drip, and this is directly related to a failing inlet valve. These are electrically operated but can leak if the water pressure is low. Some are mounted in the lower back side of the unit, in the machinery compartment. Others are in a compartment inside the door where the dispenser is located. Follow the bullet points in Frozen Fill Tube, above.

Faulty Solenoid Valve

The solenoid water inlet valves can also crack and leak or can wear out so that they don't open fully. Then the valve won't close. A constant dripping is a sign of a bad valve; replace it.

Faulty Supply Tubing

Another source of leaks is the supply tubing. You may have leakage from the fittings on the tubing. The door hinges where the tubing passes through can also be a source of leaks. The tubing may rub over time and develop a leak. Inspect all of the tubing that you can reach, both fittings and tubing. Replace any defective portions.

There is a small possibility that the cold water reservoir in the door (if your model has one) has cracked. Inspect it carefully when you examine the tubing.

If everything seems in order, monitor the fridge for several days.

5

The main control board may be failing. If all else has checked out, consider replacing the main control board.

View statistics:

Past 24 Hours:

13

Past 7 Days:

127

Past 30 Days:

570

All Time:

3,070