How to Fix Everything For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon
When a refrigerator is leaking water, it needs to be addressed immediately. But before you can fix it, you'll need to know why it's happening.

There are many causes for a leaking refrigerator. One of the most common problems is that the water isn't able to reach the drain because the refrigerator hasn't been leveled correctly. Another common problem is a clogged defrost drain. For these cases, any homeowner can implement a DIY fix and stop the leaking pretty easily.

parts of a refrigerator

Other reasons for a leaking refrigerator may include improper installation (for example, the water filter) or damaged equipment, such as a cracked drain pan. These issues may require part replacement and professional help.

Leveling the refrigerator

When you see water under a refrigerator, check the front legs. Water (from condensation) is supposed to run from inside the refrigerator to a drain hole, and then into a drip pan underneath, where it evaporates. If the refrigerator is completely level or tipped slightly forward, the water may not be able to flow into the drain. All you have to do to get it working is to adjust the front legs so the refrigerator tips back slightly. (Incidentally, that tilt also makes the door swing closed after you turn away from the refrigerator.)

Here’s how to level your refrigerator to prevent it from leaking water:

  1. Have a helper tip the fridge slightly back so you can get your hand under it.

  2. Unscrew the front legs a couple of turns to raise them. (Don’t take them off, though.)

  3. Let the refrigerator back down.

  4. Use a level on the front edge of the refrigerator to make sure the legs are even.

  5. Partially open the door and walk away. It should close by itself now.

Tip the refrigerator only slightly because it is designed to be (almost) level, and tilting it too much might cause a problem somewhere else.

If you can’t adjust the legs, put a shim under each of them, about 1/8 inch thick at the wide edge.

Cleaning the drain hole

If adjusting the legs doesn’t stop water from leaking, then you have to clear the drain hole. It gets clogged with food particles that can prevent water from being drained, leading to an overflow and leakage.

Follow these steps to clear your refrigerator's drain hole:

  1. Locate the drain tubes at the rear of the refrigerator or freezer.

  2. Push a small plastic tube or a pipe cleaner through the tubes.

  3. Pour a mild solution of soapy water and ammonia down the drain tube to kill bacteria. If you have a turkey baster or syringe, use it to squeeze water into the hole.

  4. Check the drain pan under the refrigerator, on the left side, by removing the front grill.

  5. If the soapy water hasn’t drained into it, you still have a problem. Go to Step 6.

  6. Working inside the refrigerator, push the tube or pipe cleaner into and through the drain tube.

  7. Flush the hole with water again.

  8. You should now find water in the pan. If you do, don’t worry; it evaporates.

You can also have water problems if you keep the refrigerator in an unheated garage, porch, or basement. As heat from the motor flows across the cold exterior, it condenses and water forms, dripping onto the floor. All you need to do is put a space heater nearby, and if there’s no more water, you know condensation’s the problem. Solve the problem permanently by moving the refrigerator to a warmer place.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Gary and Peg Hedstrom are self-taught repair masters with experience in carpentry, plumbing, appliance repair, and more. Judy Ondrla Tremore is a writer and editor for various newspapers and magazines.

This article can be found in the category: