Leaks in the kitchen don’t always come from the sink or dishwasher. A faulty refrigerator might be to blame, even if it doesn’t have an ice maker or water dispenser.
Fortunately, the leak is water, since the coolant used in refrigerators is a gas not a liquid. Unfortunately, a puddle of water underneath or inside the fridge means there’s a problem that needs immediate attention.
A blocked defrost drain is one of the most common causes of water leaking from your refrigerator and is a good place to start troubleshooting. The small drain opening is easily blocked by food particles or ice, preventing water that accumulated during the defrost cycle from draining to the pan.
When enough water builds up, it starts leaking out of the refrigerator and onto the floor. Clear the drain by flushing it with hot water. Use a short piece of stiff wire, such as a wire clothes hanger, if necessary to remove the blockage.
It is not common, but occasionally the drain pan at the bottom of the refrigerator can develop a crack that allows water to leak. It is normal for a small amount of water to accumulate in the drain pan, but it is not normal for it to escape the pan.
Water in the drain pan should evaporate long before it becomes a concern thanks to the condenser fan blowing warm air across the surface of the pan. Examine the drain pan for any cracks or damage, especially if the defrost drain is clear and there is sign of water on any other part of the refrigerator. The pan should be replaced if it is damaged.
Water-line connections to the ice maker can come loose or the seals can age and crack, leading to leaks that end up as water pooled under and around the refrigerator. Plastic hoses can also crack or tear, or get kinked creating pressure that turns into a leak at the connection.
Check the length of the water line leading to the ice maker, usually on the rear exterior of the fridge, as well as the connections, for any signs of moisture. If the ice maker supply line is the problem, there will typically be water running or dripping down the line and on to the floor. Tighten the connections or replace the water line. It may also be necessary to replace the connectors to get a good seal.
A poor connection between the water filter and the water supply can cause a leak in refrigerator models with a filtering system. The filter may be installed improperly, the wrong size or model for the refrigerator, or it may be so old that the housing or seals are cracked, allowing water to escape.
Examine the filter and housing assembly carefully for any signs of dripping water, which can usually be seen running down the outside of the filter and into the refrigerator’s interior if the filter is the problem.
Remove and replace the filter, following the manufacturer’s instructions. The filter must be the exact one specified for the refrigerator.