Skip to main content

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.

refrigeratorThe 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).

drain tube, hose, refrigeratorJoe Provey

Next, I took the drain tube outside, attached my hose to one end and turned on the water.

drain tube, refrigeratorJoe Provey

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.

  • John Z.

    Today's young "helpless" people make me sick (I am 60). If the average guy today can't fix it with a few key strokes, he is up a creek. This guy complains about paying $135 for an in home dryer belt replacement? Let me see, the repairman made a special last minute trip to get his customer going and only charged $135? He has to have the know how, the belt in his truck stock and the patience, gasoline, tools and time to run right over and help this moron out! Many little old ladies in their 80's can change a dryer belt. And now the author is so proud to be able to clean his refrigerator's drain tube! --Something that would not have clogged in the first place if his household's sloths cleaned out the frig. once every five years!

  • Jim

    Wow.....I found this story interesting and helpful! To bad the person with the fridge isn't an "Appliance God" like yourself! I'm sure the same type of story could be wrote about you the last time you had a problem with your car, TV, computer, etc...... Thats ok though, this is how a dumb ass like you can boost your own ego!!!!

  • JOHN


  • Terri

    I love getting tips like this. Http://

  • Donna

    I hate to disagree with you, John, but in today's throw-away society, there are so many people who would pay for a new refrigerator, including my husband, because he is not mechanically inclined to try to fix a problem like a leaky refrigerator or a broken dryer belt. Now that I know that our problem with the refrigerator is easily repairable, this will definitely save me an additional $1000.00 for a new refrigerator. I must admit that when we have called repairmen, none of them will tell you anything until they have collected their $200.00+labor+parts once they walk through your door and you have easily spent half the price of a new appliance on a repairman.. It's easier just to buy a new appliance than to deal with repairmen who do nothing but try to rip off the average customer.

  • Al

    John, Your right on the money. I'm 65 and a Handyman at this point in my life. Most of the things I do include changing lightbulbs for stay at home trophy wives who have their children watched by a nanny, their house cleaned by a maid and who fill their day waiting for their hapless salesmen husbands by shopping in white Yukon Denali's. It is a pitiful way to live knowing your only value in life is that you where born with a vagina and married someone whose only talent is talking others into buying something.

  • Joan K.

    I agree with you John. The same stuff happens in all service businesses. People just can't see beyond the bill. They don't realize others have to make a living too. And the biggest complainers are the ones with the most money. If you want to complain every time you get things fixed then do it yourself. In the case of refrigerators, you can generally stay maintenance free if you just vacumn the components twice a year.


    Appliance problems are not that simple to diagnosis and repair so Bravo to our in house repair tech. I work as a Maintenance Supervisor for a very large townhouse complex in South Jersey. Of the 5 men that work under me there is only 2 of them that can actually make the proper repair to a kitchen appliance with-out the process of elimination tactic. I also agree $135.00 is a very fair price to make a House call, last minute for an appliance repair, AND he was able to repair it then and there without having to order the part. People just need to realize that although that guy was able to repair a simple condensate clog, I hope he does not try to repair a faulty gas line ,control valve or any of the many hundred of more serious repairs to a gas appliance that could potential seriously injure or even kill him or his family. Let the pro's do the job THEY WERE TRAINED FOR…

  • Mike

    Gee, I'm sorry some of us aren't financial capable of keeping the Maytag Repairman and his buttcrack-wielding plumber friends in business.

    My hot water heater went and I bought a new one at Home Depot.for $350. I asked about the "Home Installation" offer, which I thought would be a good option since I don't have any plumbing experience. I was told that the installation would cost $500 minimum.......MINIMUM! $150 MORE than I paid for the damn water heater!

    Thanks but no thanks. I bought some solder, a propane torch, some copper pipe and connectors and between the supplies and a little intelligence and common sense, installed it myself. I was surprised at how simple it was. The only tricky part was the soldering, but you can get the hang of it with a little practice, the right solder, and a jar of Soldering Flux.

    Don't knock people for having to do the job themselves. If most of us had $135 to blow on a clogged tube or $500 to feed Joe Buttcrack for doing these jobs, places like Home Depot wouldn't exist.

  • SteveB

    Hey John.....your right on the money. Little does the yuppy know that if he does this enough, then needs service later the service company can refuse him service. Simple as that. Besides a clogged defrost line its an indication of a dirty fridge. Bet his wife loved him posting that in a worldwide news forum.
    Plus if the putz had done some more research, he would have realized he didn't need to get out the water hose and remove the tube either. Oh how smart we think we are.

  • Glen H

    Just to add to what John Z said, that repairman has to stand behind the job as well, if a sock gets jammed in the drum guess who's coming back for free. People are ignorant to what a business needs to run properly. I've been in the plumbing and heating business for 8 years. The guy who wrote this would probably bring his own parts to the automechanic since he wants 50 more for an alternator, not taking into account the mechanic has to stand behind his work and his parts. Congrats on repairing it yourself, pat yourself on the back when you come up with a cure for cancer.

  • Paul

    Well said John. I'm 50. The only good part is that these yuppie morons "throw it away" and buy a new one. I have two like new refrigerators in my rec room that were free. One is a side by side. They had the exact same problem. My grill on my lower patio was expensive when my neighbor bought it. but as soon as it "didn't work right" anymore, bam it was on the curb. A new burner solved the problem. I keep my wifes cleaning service supplied with vacuum sweepers that need a filter cleaning or removal of a deep clog. They "throw them out and buy a new one", all the while whining about how tough times are and there's "no money". We live in a country of ankle socked sandal wearing sissies who know nothing about how good it feels to accomplish something on your own.

  • TheMajor

    Well said! "fix it with a keystroke" is dead on!

  • jay

    I agree......why is it that the repair guys are always the bad guys. Sure there are a few out there that have taken advantage of some poor souls but not everyone out there is a thief. How about the cost of the part and the travel time to and from the location....I guess the repair guy gets his fuel for free. And of course his family should have to wait for dad to come home cause some dope can not do it himself and has the balls to think we all have sail boats. Try fixing your car when it breaks down from the internet wise ass........

  • mike

    i didnt think 135 bucks was bad at all .i wouldnt have done it for any less myself.135 dollars is gone in 15 mins in the grocery store.

  • Ron

    Cranky old codger!

  • Al

    Well John, we certainly hit a nerve!

  • Jim

    I don't see what the problem is. If you have the inclination and don't want to spend the money, then fix it yourself. If your not so inclined, call the repairman. It's not an argument, it's just a choice. There is no right or wrong.

  • Steve C

    Your reply obviously makes you out to be one of those country club repairmen who is gouging the public. In this day and age, only a dentist or doctor should deserve $135 an hr. and that's only if they work the entire hour. Even old ladies could have done that refrigerator fix.

  • Al

    James? If you are a frikkin' Doctor, why is it that you have to spam in order to get a date? You really must be a total loser.


Follow Us

  • No features currently available.

  • More Hot Topics The Daily Fix  •  DIY Warrior  •  Home Ec  •  Handmade
    DIY Disaster Doctor  •  In the Workshop  •  Product Picks

    Home Improvement Videos