There’s Water on the Floor

For about a year, or maybe more, there’s been water on the floor in front of our refrigerator. The water appears overnight, and we never see it occurring. When I come downstairs in the morning to make coffee, looking over at the refrigerator, there is a little puddle of clear water in front. Our refrigerator is a side-by-side, counter depth Frigidaire, but this could occur to any refrigerator.

Where the towel is, that is where the water would appear. At first I suspected it was a couple of stray ice cubes. There did not seem to be any water directly under the refrigerator. But, we could not cause ice cubes to fall in a way to make that actually happen, so after some time, we discarded that theory. We also theorized that the water was due to leakage from the water line into the refrigerator, the one supplying the ice maker and the water dispenser. But the fact that it only appeared overnight, and was not a large volume, seemed to indicate that was not the problem. Looking this problem up on-line, it seemed this could occur from a clogged drain within the freezer. This could occur if there was ice or other debris clogging the drain. The drain is there to drain water which drips when the freezer goes through a daily defrost cycle. This occurs to allow ice built up on the freezer coils to thaw, and then drain into the drip pan under the refrigerator. Once in that pan, the water generally evaporates so that water is not getting on the floor.

In our refrigerator, there is a drip pan under the refrigerator side. It is not removable. I took off the plastic guard at the bottom of the front of the unit, and had a look at the pan. It was dry, and looked like it had not seen water in a while. This led to me checking for a frozen drain. For a freezer crammed with stuff, it is no small task to get to that drain, as it is in the back of the lower part of the freezer. I removed the lower two wire baskets, full of frozen green beans from the garden, steaks yet to be thawed and cooked, and a variety of other items. In the back, there is a panel one removes by unscrewing a few hex screws. There one can see freezer coils, with some built up frost, and a pan with a hole in it, the drain. Instructions on-line say to pour some hot tap water down the drain to be sure there is no ice clogging the drain. I did just that, but it seemed to go down without a problem.

Getting a little frustrated, I decided to do the equivalent of “looking under the hood”, that is, opening the back panel and taking a look.

These are the tools I needed. A hex screw driver and an adjustable end wrench.

Before starting, it is necessary to turn off the inflow to the water line leading to the refrigerator. In our case, it is a small valve in our basement.

Next, I pulled the refrigerator away from the wall and pulled the plug out of the socket (very important step: Unplug the refrigerator before working on it.) Then, I disconnected the water line from the refrigerator.

I then pulled the back panel off by removing the screws holding it in place.

Removing the panel, one sees the refrigeration coils and the manifold for the water inflow. The water runs through the filter in the refrigerator then to the ice maker and water dispenser. I disconnected the screws holding this in place to get at what was behind this, the drain tube for the freezer.

A bit hard to see, but the arrow is pointing to the drain tube coming from the base of the drain pan inside the freezer. it is a wide black tube which is connected by sliding onto the drain channel, then heads over to the drip pan. In our case, I could see water had drained around the tube, and fallen onto the floor. A quick check of the drain pan showed no water in the pan.

This is the other end of the drain tube, with the drip pan underneath. Nary a drop of water seen here. My conclusion was that the drain tube was either cracked or somehow disconnected.

Reaching back to where the drain tube was connected to the freezer drain, I was able to gently pull on it and found that it indeed did seem to be not connected to the drain itself. There was a sleeve around the drain tube in the opening to the drain pipe, which I pulled down. It took a bit of straining to reach into the opening, but I was able to pull the drain tube down and feel up into the place where it should be connected. There is a hard plastic pipe it is supposed to slide around, but there is nothing to hold it in place. The pipe seemed to be pointing a bit sideways. I fiddled with it a bit, and was able to slide the drain tube back on to the pipe, and then slip the sleeve around the connected pipe. I took a few minutes with a vacuum cleaner to clear some of the dust off of the coils and surrounding areas.

I then put everything back together. I replaced the back panel, reconnected the water line, and went to the basement to turn the water back on. I have not checked overnight yet, to see if this does the trick, but it surely seems to have been the problem. Anyway, I’ve done all I can do, and if this doesn’t work, we’ll need to get a repairman in to fix it. But, I am hopeful.

So, if you find that you have water on the floor under or in front of your refrigerator, I hope this little adventure will be of some use to you.

One day update: no water overnight. Need to go through a few 24 hour cycles to be certain it is fixed.

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