Ever step into a mystery puddle on the floor near your fridge? Our writer unraveled the mystery of his leaking refrigerator -- and it turned out to be a no-brainer.
For the past week, my wife and I have been waking up to a puddle in front of our refrigerator. No, we don't have pets. Clearly (and thankfully -- I think), our refrigerator was leaking
The last time I needed an appliance repaired, I called my regular repairman and he said he thought he'd be able to squeeze me in at the end of the day before heading off for race night at the local yacht club. After about 15 minutes of work replaced the belt on a clothing dryer, he coolly asked for $135. Then and there, I said to myself never again.
So I took to the internet to diagnose my appliance ailment. After reading a bit about the problem at various sites, I found it was probably one of two things: a leak around the ice cube maker
, or a frozen drain in the auto defrost system
(or some other sort of clog) that causes condensation to flow to the bottom of the fridge, under the vegetable bins. Once there's enough water it flows out onto the floor.
Having been frustrated with my last repair-person experience -- and not being in the mood to shell out more than the refrigerator is probably worth just to fix it -- I decided to attempt the repair myself. First I tried turning off the valve that supplies water to the ice cube maker.
It was easy to trace the tubing from the fridge to the valve. No dice. The puddle was back the next day.
Next I tried lowering the temperature setting of the fridge
in hopes of thawing the clog. Still no luck; just another puddle.
Finally, I decided to empty the fridge and take a closer look at the problem.
I got a cooler, emptied the contents of the fridge and freezer frozen foods into it, surrounded the food with some ice to keep it fresh, and unplugged the refrigerator. I took the cardboard access panel off the lower back of the unit and was able to see the pan where the condensation is supposed to go before it evaporates. It was bone dry.
The first step is to locate the drain tube at the back of the refrigerator. Photo: Joe Provey
So was the bottom of the drain tube. I pulled the drain tube from its fitting, cleaned one end and tried blowing through it. Couldn't do it; it was clogged. (see photos).
Next, I took the drain tube outside, attached my hose to one end and turned on the water.
A few seconds later a black glob shot out the other end, followed by a stream of clear water. It was that
easy to dislodge the clog.
Now reassembled and restocked, the fridge is back to quietly doing its job. It feels good to know I was able to diagnose and perform the repair myself, while saving money. But I'm especially happy not to have to listen to my country club repairman tell me about his new boat.