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How to fix a leaking refrigerator

Water leaking from underneath fridge in kitchen

Is there a puddle forming underneath or within your refrigerator? Don't worry—leaks in home refrigerators are common and may not always need professional repair. But it's important to quickly find the cause and stop the drip.

Asurion Experts are highly-experienced with every major appliance, and can help you keep yours running at its best. Let's dive into how you can stop that leak and get your refrigerator back in top shape.

Why is my refrigerator leaking water?

Determining the cause of the leaky fridge will help you decide what you need to do to solve the issue. Here are some of the more common culprits:

  • A blocked or clogged defrost drain: Over time, debris or food particles can accumulate in the drain tube, causing it to become blocked and resulting in water backup and leakage.
  • A damaged water supply line: If your refrigerator has an ice maker or water dispenser, a damaged or misaligned water supply line can lead to leaks.
  • A faulty door gasket: A worn or torn door gasket can allow warm air to enter the refrigerator, leading to condensation and eventual leakage.
  • Excessive frost build-up: If your refrigerator is not defrosting properly, excessive frost build-up can occur, leading to water leakage when the ice melts.
  • Improper leveling of the appliance: A refrigerator that is not properly leveled can cause water to accumulate and leak from various components.

How to stop a leaky refrigerator

Whether your refrigerator is leaking water on the inside or you're seeing water from under the fridge, these tips should help.

Flush the defrost drain

Debris, like food particles, often clogs defrost drains. To clear a clog:

  • First, unplug your refrigerator.  
  • Next, locate the defrost drain, which is typically found at the bottom back of your fridge. Check the owner’s manual if you have trouble finding it, it's often available online. 
  • Then, use a funnel or turkey baster to flush warm water through the defrost drain. If you can't get the water to move through the drainpipe, try using a pipe cleaner or a plastic straw to push out the clog. 
  • If water is not flowing through the drainpipe, check the valve at the end of the drain hose under the fridge. See if there is any debris blocking it.

To stop clogs in the future, don't put food by the defrost drain. Clean it regularly, even if there's no leak.

Inspect the water supply line

Check the water supply line of your refrigerator for leaks. To do so, first unplug your fridge and locate the water shut-off valve (typically found under the sink, behind the refrigerator, or below it in the basement or crawlspace). When the valve is closed, look for kinks, clogs, or leaks in the water line, especially at joints and bends where leaks often happen. Make sure the water line is connected properly to the fridge and the water source and check that all fittings are secure. For additional help, check out our refrigerator water line troubleshooting tips.

Defrost the fridge

If your problem continues, a frozen drain could be the cause. You'll need to allow the ice to melt. First, remove all of the food from the freezer and fridge compartments and store in a cooler (or in your garage fridge, if you have one). Then, simply unplug your fridge and leave the door open for a few hours to allow it to thaw. Be sure to cover the floor in front of your fridge with towels to capture any additional leakage.

Place your fridge on an incline

If your fridge has sprung a leak, it may be that it isn't leveled properly. Refrigerators aren't supposed to be perfectly level. The front of your appliance needs to be about a quarter-inch to a half-inch taller than the back to allow coolant to flow freely.

If the coolant isn't flowing as it should, it can cause your fridge to leak water onto the floor. The reason: Coolant can pool up in the pipes, and the extra effort required from your fridge to keep the coolant moving results in condensation around the coils. That extra condensation causes your fridge to leak water onto the floor.

To fix this issue, place a level on your fridge floor perpendicular to the door of the appliance, then adjust the appliance's legs or rollers to the appropriate height in both the front and the back.

Check your drain pan

It's normal for your fridge to drip small amounts of water into a pan underneath it. This water generally evaporates before it has time to get onto the floor thanks to your appliance's condenser fan. However, if your drain pan is cracked or damaged, it may be leaking water directly onto the floor. If that's your problem, head to your local hardware store to get a replacement. Simple, right?

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