3 Main Causes Of Refrigerator Leaks

leaky refrigeratorRefrigerator leaks can be quite small. Unfortunately, that means a chronic refrigerator leak can cause water damage to the floor underneath it or the wall behind it—areas not frequently inspected by most homeowners—before anyone’s aware of it. Mold growth in these areas may also thrive undiscovered for some time. The good news is, in most units, there are only a few common causes of refrigerator leaks and they can be checked in a quick process of elimination.

  • Leaky water supply line. If your refrigerator incorporates an ice maker, it gets water from a 1/4-inch tube—typically made of plastic—routed from the kitchen sink water line. The tube connects to the back of the refrigerator with a screw-on connection. Inconspicuous water leakage, usually seepage or drips, may result if this connection loosens. The plastic supply tube itself is also prone to deteriorate and eventually crack. However, this usually causes obvious leakage and may flood the kitchen floor if the flow isn’t shut off at the valve under the kitchen sink.
  • Clogged defrost drain. Refrigerators with auto-defrost feature discharge water created by defrosting into a drain line that extends to a drip pan underneath the refrigerator, where the water evaporates. If the defrost drain line clogs with food particles or other debris, water may drip behind or beneath the unit, missing the collection pan. This leakage is intermittent and may not be obvious as it only occurs when defrost cycle kicks in. However, over time it can cause water damage to the floor or wall behind the refrigerator.
  • Condensation leaks. Condensation forming inside the refrigerator compartment should drip through a drain tube directly into the drip pan beneath the unit. If the drain hole is clogged or obstructed by some object, leakage may occur. Another cause can be that the refrigerator is not level, so collecting condensation does not flow toward the drain hole. A typical sign of this is small amounts of water leaking out the front of the refrigerator.

Refrigerator leaks can be a major or minor cause of household water damage. Catching these leaks early is the key to prevention.


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