We recently had a couple of calls in the same day from folks needing their Kenmore refrigerator repaired for the same reasons. Now it’s not that there is anything in particular wrong with Kenmore, but the problem both of these people were having IS something that is fairly common, so we thought we’d share it with you, along with some tips on what you may want to consider doing about
it before calling in a professional appliance repair technician (not that we’re opposed to you calling us of course!)
Do these comments sound familiar to you? – “There is water leaking in my refrigerator all of a sudden, and there are now puddles under my crisper bins”, and “The floor of my freezer is a solid sheet of ice.”
If that sounds remotely like what you’re experiencing with your refrigerator, there is a good chance that your defrost drain is all plugged up. If your refrigerator has a freezer on top, then you may be experiencing water dripping into your refrigerator and collecting at the bottom (i.e. under your crisper bins). The reason for this is that when the defrost cycle runs, the resulting melted water is supposed to run down to the drop pan under your fridge. But if the drain is plugged up… the water is just going to find its’ way down to someplace else. So let’s have a look at fixing a leaking fridge.
If your refrigerator is leaking you may see water either inside the food compartments or outside of the refrigerator on the floor. If you see water on the floor outside your refrigerator the problem could be either with the defrost drain system, drain pan or with the water inlet system if you have an icemaker or water dispenser. Water accumulation inside of the refrigerator could be an indication of warm air infiltration through faulty door gaskets or doors not closing properly, restricted defrost drains or malfunctions with ice makers or water dispensers. To identify the source of the water leak you will first have to understand the where water could originate in your refrigerator.
Water on the floor outside of your refrigerator
If your model is equipped with an icemaker or a water dispenser you should first locate the associated tubing and inspect the connections to the water fill valve, water filter, icemaker inlet and dispenser inlet to insure a water tight fit. Inspect the tubing for signs of abrasion, heat damage and check for tubing that has become brittle with age. Some of this tubing may be located beneath the refrigerator and will require removal of the front kick plate or the rear compartment cover for closer inspection. Leaks that are associated with these components usually occur only when the icemaker or dispenser are activated and water is flowing to the component.
Water leaks that appear to originate beneath the refrigerator may also be related to leaking or overflowing drain pans. All frost free refrigerators will have some type of drain pan to collect defrost water that will evaporate with either fan forced air or normal air flow. Drain pans can become dislodged or can develop cracks and leak water onto the floor. The drain pan is normally located at the bottom of the refrigerator, behind the front grill. The front grill usually snaps in place, so pull gently and it should pop off. Remove the pan and inspect for cracks or holes. Make sure the pan is replaced securely. If it is misaligned or not level, it may continue to leak. Your drain pan should be removed and thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis to prevent mould and dust build-up. If the drain pan is level, but is overflowing, you should suspect an air leak in the refrigerator that will result in an abnormal amount of defrost water.
A faulty door seal or gasket may cause a leak because when a door doesn’t close properly, excessive moist air can enter the refrigerator. This moisture can accumulate on the interior surfaces and eventually find its way to the bottom of the refrigerator and leak out through the door. Some of this moisture will collect on the evaporator and may cause an excessive build up of frost. This may impede airflow in the refrigerator causing temperature fluctuations and during the defrost cycle may create an abnormal amount of water in the drain system that could cause an overflow at the drain pan resulting in water on the floor. It is important for the door gasket to form a tight seal to the body of your refrigerator and it should be inspected periodically. Make sure that the gasket is kept clean, removing all crumbs and debris that could cause gaps in the seal, and any sticky substances that can cause the gasket to stick to the refrigerator and possibly create a tear. Torn, misshapen or otherwise damaged gaskets should be replaced.
To test the seal, place a dollar bill or a piece of paper between the seal and the refrigerator and close the door. Now pull the paper out. You should feel tension as you pull. Repeat this procedure along the entire gasket.
Water leaking inside the refrigerator
If you see water on the bottom inside your refrigerator the problem may be with the drain tube that leads to the exterior drain pan. If this tube becomes clogged the defrost water cannot exit the refrigerator to the drain pan to evaporate. Normally the defrost drain will originate in the freezer compartment and on most side by side and bottom mount models, will be funnelled through the freezer floor into a drain tube that terminates at the drain pan located beneath the refrigerator.
On top mount refrigerators the defrost water will be funnelled to a drain tube that may be located on the exterior rear wall or contained inside the rear wall, and then terminate at the drain pan. Some top mount models will funnel the defrost water directly down the interior back wall of the fresh food compartment to a drain hole located beneath the bottom crisper. Depending on the location of the drain tube and the blockage, the water may collect on the floor of the fresh food compartment or in the evaporator area in the freezer compartment. Clear the drain, break up any blockages and make sure the water can flow freely into the drain pan. Also, insure that your refrigerator is level so that the water will flow in the proper direction.
Another location inside of the refrigerator to check for water leaks would be the icemaker area of the freezer. Icemakers will fill at the end of their harvest cycle for a specific amount of time, normally around 7-9 seconds, which should fill the mold to the proper level. Too long of a fill time can overflow the mold and water would spill into the freezer. An icemaker that is out of level can also spill water into the ice bin or into the freezer. It can be repositioned by loosening the mounting screws, adjusting it for level and then retightening the screws. If the icemaker is level, suspect the icemaker or the fill valve as the problem.
If your find evidence of an ice build up in the icemaker fill tube, suspect a faulty fill valve or low inlet water pressure. If your model is equipped with a water dispenser, check for leaks around the reservoir This is normally located behind the lower crispers in the fresh food compartment. Although it is possible for refrigerators to leak refrigerant, it is extremely rare and the refrigerant is a colorless, odourless gas, and definitely would not resemble a water leak. Refrigerant leaks would result in a symptom of warm temperatures inside the refrigerator and would require a trained technician to diagnose.