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How to Fix a Leaking Refrigerator in Four Quick Steps

Do it yourself and save a service call when you've got a refrigerator leaking water

Water leaking from a refrigerator is often due to a clog in the evaporator drain line. Here's how to fix the problem in a bottom-freezer refrigerator.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Fix a water leak from a bottom-freezer refrigerator

Step 1: Remove these components first

Pull the freezer door all the way out and lift if off the slides. If the slides prevent you from removing the access panel, unscrew or unsnap them and remove them. If the drawer slide retainers block access to the access panel, remove the screws and lift off the retainers.

Step 2: Remove the access panel

Use a nut driver to remove the access-panel retaining screws and pull the panel forward. Disconnect any lights or sensors attached to the panel. Then set the panel aside.

Step 3: Remove drain debris

Pluck the clog out of the drain with a pair of tweezers.

Step 4: Snake the drain

Thread flexible 1/4-in. tubing down the drain and rotate it as you push it to break the clog. Stop pushing when you hear it hit the drain pan under the refrigerator. Flush the drain with hot water and make sure it all goes into the drain pan (remove the bottom front grille and shine a flashlight through the opening to see the drain pan).

If you discover water on your kitchen floor near the refrigerator, first check for leaks in the water line to the icemaker. (For that repair, see Ice Maker Repair Tips and Upgrade Your Icemaker Supply Line ) If the water line and valve are dry, chances are you have a clogged evaporator drain line. The water is from frost and ice buildup on the evaporator coil that melts off during the defrost cycle. Normally this water just drains into a pan in the bottom of the refrigerator. Then the condenser fan motor blows warm air across the pan and the water simply evaporates.

But if the drain line clogs, the water overflows and seeps down the interior walls of the freezer and onto the floor. You can fix the problem yourself in just a few hours and save an expensive service call. All you need is a pair of tweezers and a short piece of flexible 1/4-in. O.D. tubing from any hardware store. Here’s how to remove the clog.

To reach the drain, you’ll first have to remove the access panel from the back of your bottom freezer. This refrigerator has been cut so you can see where all the components are. But every refrigerator is different, so do an Internet search for instructions on how to remove the access panel on your particular refrigerator.

Start by removing all the frozen food from the freezer. Put it in a cooler. Then remove the freezer drawer and slides (photo 1). Next remove the access panel (photo 2). Clean debris from the evaporator gutter and drain (photo 3). Then pour hot water into the gutter to melt the ice and snake the drain with the tubing (photo 4). Then flush water through it again. If it flows, you’re done and can reassemble everything. If it still doesn’t flow, call a pro.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

You’ll also need tweezers.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

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