Troubleshooting the Causes of a Leaking Refrigerator

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If you have entered your kitchen to discover that your refrigerator has manifested a less than lovely little puddle around it, then you need to take action and fast. Chances are, even if you clean that puddle up, it is going to come back again before you know it. Not only does water leakage have the potential to damage your refrigerator, but it can create water damage and mold growth on the flooring underneath it.

Causes of Refrigerator Leaks

While there can be several different causes of refrigerator leaks, there are three that will be your most likely culprits. As such, they need to be investigated first before moving onto other options so you can make a potential repair quickly. These common causes include:

  • Clogged Defrost Drain
  • Water Inlet Valve
  • Water Tank Assembly

By checking these three main causes first, you should be able to quickly discover what is causing the leaks and rectify the issue before things get any wetter.

Clogged Defrost Drain

As the defrost runs in your refrigerator, the frost that it melts off turns to water and needs to go somewhere. The melt-off will go to the defrost drain and pool in the drain pan. As the defrost runs several times per day to prevent huge frost build up, it is only a small amount of water that drains into the pan and will evaporate away instead of pooling up.

Unfortunately, if the defrost drain becomes clogged by debris or even frozen water, then it will not drain into the pan but will find its way out somewhere. It will come out through the bottom compartment and onto the floor.

As this requires thawing ice or flushing hot water through the drain to clear it, and not an actual repair, you should check this issue first.

Water Inlet Valve

The water inlet valve is charged with opening the water connection to the icemaker or water dispenser. If this part has become damaged, it can manifest in leaks. Check it for damage and also make sure that it is tightly secured. If this part is leaking enough to produce a puddle, typically it will be wet to the touch.

Water Tank Assembly

Opening up the back of your refrigerator, you should next check the water tank assembly for any damage. If it has water in the supply tank, you should be able to look for leaks visually. You will, however, want to keep in mind that any leaks can be very slow intermittent drips.

If this part is damaged, you may be tempted to slap some duct tape on it and call it a day. However, that is not recommended. Instead, the part should really just be replaced to prevent the problem from coming back.

What Else to Check?

If you have concluded that it is none of the above, you may want to look to the water filter. This is the least likely cause, but damage to the water filter assembly can cause leaks. Furthermore, if you recently replaced your water filter, it could be that the water filter was not secured enough and is dripping. It is also possible the water filter was damaged before or during the install, which can cause leaks as well.

You may also want to check the drip pan itself. If it is full, then the leak could just be overflow. However, if your refrigerator is producing enough defrost to fill the drip pan so the water cannot evaporate off fast enough, then you have other problems that need addressing. In which case, you will need to find out what is causing that much frost build up.


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