Refrigerators are one of those kitchen appliances that are an absolute necessity in any functional kitchen. In fact, some refrigerator manufacturers actually build refrigerators that seamlessly blend in with the modern home architecture.

However, not too many people are familiar with how to troubleshoot even simple problems with their appliances. For example, if your refrigerator is leaking water, do you know what the causes are and how to fix it? If you’d like to learn more, this short read is just for you.

Why refrigerators leak and what to do

refrigerator placement

Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why refrigerators leak, and how to fix these leaks.

Your refrigerator is improperly placed

A fact that a lot of homeowners are oblivious to is that a refrigerator ought to never be placed level with the kitchen floor. To allow the coolant to circulate properly and to allow the doors to swing shut by themselves, refrigerators are usually positioned such that the rear is ¼” to ½” closer to the floor than the front.

If your refrigerator has recently been moved around because of a home improvement project or for cleaning purposes and is tilted improperly as result, it may not be draining properly, causing a leak.

It is easy to check whether the tilt is accurate or not by placing a spirit level perpendicular to the doors on top of the fridge. If you do find the angle is wrong, you will need to readjust the front legs of the refrigerator.

The front legs are normally covered by a grill or a kick plate. Remove this to get access to the legs. Depending on the angle, you can increase or decrease the height of the legs by turning them with a crescent wrench. Turning it counterclockwise increases the height while turning it clockwise decreases it.

Keep in mind though that while you are increasing or decreasing the height of the front legs, they need to be changed equally. If not, your fridge is going to be wobbling on its sides.

You have a damaged drain pan

refrigerator drain pan

All refrigerators lose some amount of water and have a handy apparatus to help that go unnoticed. That apparatus is called a drain pan and is found at the bottom of the refrigerator. 

The drain pan is meant to collect water and allow that water to evaporate without getting water on the floor. However, very rarely, this drain pan develops holes or cracks and could be the reason for your fridge leaking.

To set this right, you need to once again begin by removing the grill or kick plate at the front bottom of the refrigerator. Then, you will find the drain pan resting at the button of the fridge.

Carefully pull out the pan, making sure you do not spill any of the water held in it. Then examine the pan to see if it is damaged.

If the pan is actually damaged, you could either order a replacement from the manufacturer’s website or take the pan with you to your local hardware store to buy a replacement.

The defrost drain is blocked

If the drain pan is more than 1/3rd the way full, the problem may be that the defrost drain is blocked. The defrost drain is located at the bottom back wall of the freezer and is meant to allow humid air to escape. Sometimes, debris such as food particles blocks this pipe up. 

To clean up a clogged defrost drain, first begin by removing any food that may be blocking the drain. See if this helps solve the problem. If that still does not work, you will need to unplug the freezer after emptying it. Then, remove the cap covering the drain hole.

Use a turkey baster to squirt warm water down the drain. This should effectively unfreeze and remove any debris blocking up the defrost drain. However, you will need to manually clear the drain pan during this period.

However, if even this does not work, you will need to unplug the fridge, pull it forwards and manually inspect the drain. Cleaning drain tubes manually will need you to use a bottle brush or a pipe cleaner. 

You have a frozen water supply line

freeze supply line leaks

Fridges that have ice makers and/or water dispensers have a water supply line for the ice maker or the water filter. If that line gets frozen, you are bound to find water on the floor. 

This water supply line is a clear tube made of plastic. Turn off the power to the fridge and then locate the supply line. Check if any of the connections are loose, and tighten them if they are. Sometimes, this is all it takes to solve the problem. 

If the leak still persists, remove the line and replace it with a new one. However, this takes a certain amount of plumbing experience. If you’re very confident of being able to do it yourself, you’d better call for expert help.

Read more: Why is my fridge filling up with water?

When to call in the experts

If you’ve tried all of the above and your fridge is still leaking, it may be time to call upon the services of a professional. 

Refrigerators have a lifespan of around 13 years, and as with the case of everything that has moving parts, are susceptible to damage caused by wear and tear. Old refrigerators springing a leak is a common problem and can be more than just an annoyance. 

Very often, the water from these leaks can’t really be spotted on the kitchen floor, and as a result, people could slip and hurt themselves.

And then there is the fact that refrigerators are expensive to repair and to replace. This is why a lot of homeowners choose to invest in home warranties with private companies. That way, ensuring they do not need to spend money out of their pockets when these appliances break down.

Read more: Signs appliances are malfunctioning

Home appliances 101: Why is my refrigerator leaking water? was last modified: January 22nd, 2023 by Narayan Shrouthy
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It has happened to me, my son bought me a huge refrigerator, beautiful, but heavy, and I have not been able to leave it on a flat surface