Why Does a Refrigerator Leak Water, and How to Fix It

by | Feb 10, 2022 | Appliance Advice

One of the common problems you can experience at home is having a malfunctioning refrigerator. A major problem with a refrigerator is water collecting underneath it. But why does a refrigerator leak water, and how can you solve the problem?

There are numerous causes for a leaking refrigerator, and knowing where the leak is coming from is the first step to solving the problem. The leak could be from the inside, rear, front, or bottom center of the refrigerator, and you may need to call a refrigerator repair expert to help you find and fix the cause. 

Read on to find out why your refrigerator is leaking water and how you can fix the issue.

7 Common Reasons Your Refrigerator Is Leaking Water

Incorrect Leveling

Have you just bought a new refrigerator, changed the location of your refrigerator, moved into a new home, or recently renovated your kitchen floors? Then, the leak could result from improper tilting. Your refrigerator should not be perfectly level with your floor. 

It should tilt slightly to the back to keep the coolant flowing efficiently and ensure the door swings shut automatically. The back of the refrigerator should be roughly a ¼ -inch to ½ -inch closer to the floor than the front. 

If you recently moved your fridge, it could be tilted improperly or so level that it cannot drain correctly. To check the leveling of the fridge, place a spirit level on top of it, perpendicular to the doors. 

If the angle is out of line, you can rectify it with the following steps:

      Remove the grill or kick plate from the bottom front of the fridge.

      Identify the two front legs. 

      Increase or decrease the leg length using a crescent wrench without removing the legs.

      Keep checking your work with a spirit level until you get the perfect angle. 

Make sure your refrigerator is level in a side-to-side orientation, with the spirit level parallel to the fridge doors. Otherwise, you should adjust the unit’s back legs by lengthening or shortening them the same way you did with the front legs. 


Blocked Water Line

Another common reason your fridge would start leaking water is water line blockage. Many fridge models feature a water line that provides water for drinking and ice, and this water line can get blocked, causing water to leak under your fridge.

Additionally, a clogged water line usually prevents the ice machine from making the right amount of ice. A common sign of a blocked water line is a malfunctioning water dispenser. So, how can you fix this problem?

If you suspect that you have a blocked water line, turn the fridge off. Next, turn the shut-off valve on. These two steps are necessary safety precautions as they prevent any damage to the refrigerator or self-harm while working on it.

You’ll then need to inspect the water line for any faults. If it has significant damage, replacing it is the best remedy. You need to find a reputable professional for this kind of job. 

If you don’t find any notable damage on the waterline, apart from the blockage, the chances are that there is ice in the line causing the blockage. In this case, you should keep the fridge unplugged for about four hours to allow the ice to melt. 

Water Inlet Valve Failure

To answer the question, “Why does a refrigerator leak water?” you’ll have to inspect various components of your fridge. If you notice a leak from the back of your refrigerator, especially after using the water function, or if you have just filled the ice maker, the chances are that the water inlet valve is leaking. The water inlet valve connects your home’s waterline to your fridge. 

It’s worth noting that a leak could be coming from the water hose between your house and the fridge itself. However, this can only happen if the water hose is damaged. Therefore, a more likely cause of a leak from the back of the fridge is a broken water inlet valve. 

Fortunately, replacing it is pretty easy. First, you will need to remove the compartment cover and disconnect the water supply line. Then, you will see a mounting bracket securing the valve. 

Once you remove the mounting bracket, the valve will pull right out. The next step is to disconnect the wire harness and replace the valve. 

You might want to test the valve with a multimeter to confirm it is faulty before replacing it. If water is leaking from the back bottom of your fridge, but the inlet valve seems to be functioning correctly, the culprit could be the tubing inside the fridge. 

If the tubing is damaged, it can also cause your fridge to start leaking water. However, getting the tubing out and installing a new one can be challenging. It is best to leave the task to the experts to avoid causing more problems.  

Blocked Defrost Drain

A blocked defrost drain is another major cause of refrigerators leaking water. Since it is the most common cause of fridge leaks, it should be the first step in troubleshooting your leaking unit. Refrigerators feature a small drain opening that is prone to blockage by ice or food. 

A blocked defrost drain inhibits water accumulated from draining down into the pan during defrosting. As the trapped water increases, it begins to leak out and flood the floor. But how can you fix the problem?

The most straightforward remedy is to try melting the ice. You can achieve this by flushing the drain with warm water. If this remedy doesn’t work, try breaking the ice up with something stiff like a wire hanger or a pipe cleaner. 

If the blockage is so far down the hose that you can’t easily reach it, consider moving the fridge and disconnecting the valve. 

Dirty Drain Pan

The drain pan is one of the integral components of your refrigerator. Its primary function is to drain excess water from the defrost cycle and lead it to evaporate in the refrigerator’s evaporator coils.

Over time, dirt can build up in the drain pan, interfering with defrost cycle and causing a leak in your fridge. You can clean the pan and prevent leakage by following these steps:

    Pull the ice drawer from one side of the refrigerator and remove its plastic cover. You may need to remove any panels hindering access to it, so you can easily clean it. 

    Use a basting syringe, pot, or cup to pour water into the drain pan’s overflow hole. 

    Moisten an old rag with hot water and wipe down all sides of the dirty area and around it. Then, pour more warm water over the area until clear liquid comes out. 

If this doesn’t solve the problem, you might want to check for other leak causes. 

Water Filter Issues

If your refrigerator has a water filtering system, problems with the connection between the water supply and the water filter could cause leakage. Inspect the housing and the filter assembly for dripping water. 

If you notice water dripping down the outside of the filter and inside the refrigerator, the chances are that the water filter is faulty. To fix the problem, replace the filter per the manufacturer’s instructions. Finding the right filter for your unit is essential to avoid more issues. 

Damaged Door Gasket

The gasket is the pliable plastic surrounding your fridge door’s inner edge. When you close the fridge door, the plastic compresses to form a seal that ensures warm air stays out and cold air stays in. 

The gasket can also cause a leak when it’s faulty. A common sign of a defective door gasket is when you notice some water in a line in front of your fridge. Drips of condensation on the outside of your fridge also signify a gasket problem. 

If your refrigerator’s door gasket has physical damage or it has lost its pliability due to age, it allows cold and warm air to meet. This process results in condensation that can accumulate and look like a water leak. 

The puddles are usually larger on hotter days. You should replace the door gasket as soon as possible. The leaking air from the damaged gasket can raise your energy bills and reduce the appliance’s lifespan as it forces the fridge to run longer and more frequently. 

Therefore, besides stopping the leak, replacing the gasket will prevent rising energy bills and extend the overall lifespan of your unit. 

When to Call a Refrigerator Repair Technician

It is sometimes challenging to determine the exact source of a refrigerator leak. In such a situation, you will need to schedule a professional evaluation from a reputable appliance repair service.

If you suspect that the liquid on your floor is refrigerant rather than water, it is important to contact a qualified technician immediately. Refrigerant is toxic, and it can pose severe health risks when it leaks outside the fridge. Therefore, you should call a professional to address the problem as soon as possible.

You will also need to contact a technician if the DIY remedies explained in this article do not solve the leaking issues. 

Your Local Technical Resource

So, why does a refrigerator leak water? No matter how well you service and maintain your refrigerator, you will experience a leak at some point during the unit’s life. Whether you need to replace the faulty part or the entire unit to stop the leak, we can help. We offer high-quality refrigerator repair services in Kelowna BC, with 100% customer satisfaction. 

Robert Davis Appliance repair technician

Robert Davis

I’m Robert Davis. I’ve worked in management and home service sectors and earned my Appliance Repair Technician Certification (ASTC). I love writing helpful content for homeowners to tackle their appliance issues. With my hands-on experience, I provide practical and reliable tips that are easy to follow. I hope my articles can help you solve your appliance issues and increase their lifespan.


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