Arrowhead Appliance Repair Appliance Maintenance Tip

The problem

We receive numerous calls from customers stating they are finding water on the floor in front of the refrigerator or inside on the shelves and drawers. This is a problem that can be easily avoided and spare you the expense of a repair. The typical charge to correct this issue can range from $100 to $250.

Understanding how your refrigerator works.

Every eight to twelve hours a refrigerator goes into defrost mode. A timer shuts everything down and a heater turns on to defrost the evaporator coils which are behind the panel inside the back of the freezer compartment. This heater melts the heavy frost build up on the coils and the water then drips into a reservoir and runs down a drain tube into a tray under the fridge. This isn’t a significant amount of water and evaporates quickly from the heat generated by the compressor. Most refrigerators have a panel located behind your refrigerator toward the bottom. Behind this panel you’ll find the condenser fan next to the compressor.  

What causes this problem?

This fan helps keep the compressor cool, thus it also contributes to the problem. This fan runs frequently and pulls most of the air from the floor at the front of the refrigerator. This also draws in a lot of dust and debris which accumulates over time in this compartment. Eventually the dust finds its way up inside the drain tube I mentioned above. Once the drain becomes clogged it causes a domino effect. The next time the refrigerator goes into defrost mode the water backs up due to the clogged drain line. When the defrost mode is complete your refrigerator turns back on and freezes all that water. From this point on every time the refrigerator goes into defrost mode the water has nowhere to go. It ends up spilling over onto the floor of the freezer compartment and finds its way out.  Depending on the style of refrigerator you own the water will either end up on the floor or inside the refrigerator.


How to prevent this problem?

  1. Turn your refrigerator off and then unplug it.

  2. Roll the refrigerator out and remove the back panel as mentioned above.

  3. Use a small brush to help loosen the dust while vacuuming this area. They make a brush specifically for cleaning the coils of a refrigerator and can be purchased at Home Depot or Lowes for around $5.

  4. Depending on your refrigerator you will also be able to clean the drain tube. If you have a bottom freezer style fridge, you’ll notice a nipple attached to the bottom of the drain line. This needs to be pulled off and cleaned.

  5. Clean the coils while you’re doing this as well. Keeping the coils clean on your refrigerator will help it operate more efficiently and prolong its life.

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