Refrigerator Leaking Water? Here’s Why and What to Do

By Amanda Lutz | January 18, 2024

New refrigerator against wooden furniture with cabinets in modern kitchen. Concept of apartment with white interior

A refrigerator that’s leaking water can be a safety hazard, lead to water damage in your home, and shorten your appliance’s life span. Homeowners can fix some causes, but others may require professional intervention. Below are the most common causes of a leaky fridge, easy fixes, and tips on when to hire a professional refrigerator repair company.

1. Blocked Defrost Drain

What to check for: A defrost drain tube carries water from a self-defrosting refrigerator’s defrost cycle out of the fridge and into a drain pan. Food or other particles can clog this drain and lead to ice buildup and water leaks. Most of these types of leaks will gather around the front of the fridge or freezer door, but others will pool below the crisper at the fridge’s bottom.

How to fix it:

  1. Remove the contents of your freezer compartment, and unplug the refrigerator.
  2. Locate the defrost drain tube, and remove the cap from the defrost drain.
  3. Remove the tube’s bottom end, and feed it into a bucket.
  4. Remove the tube’s upper part to disconnect it from the refrigerator.
  5. Use a turkey baster or a similar object to pour hot water down the drain hole.
  6. Use a pipe cleaner or wire hanger to break up the ice or other debris manually if the baster technique doesn’t work.

Hire a pro? If you still can’t remove the blockage, the clog may be too far down the drain hole. In this case, you should call a professional.

2. Blocked Water Supply Line

What to check for: Many modern refrigerators include a water line for ice and drinking water. When this line clogs, it causes water to leak under the fridge and can render the water dispenser and ice maker unusable.

How to fix it:

  1. Unplug the refrigerator and move it away from the back wall.
  2. Use your refrigerator owner’s manual to locate the water supply line. The supply line is typically made of clear, flexible plastic or braided metal.
  3. Check the tube for cracks or signs of damage, and inspect the shut-off valve fittings for signs of leaks.
  4. If there’s no damage, ice may have built up in the line, and you may need to replace your water filter. Leave the refrigerator unplugged for a few hours to melt the blockage.

Hire a pro? If you notice damage to the supply line, call an electrician or home appliance technician.

3. Uneven Refrigerator

What to check for: The front of your refrigerator must be slightly higher than the back for coolant to flow properly. If coolant cannot flow, condensation can form, and puddles may gather underneath the fridge on your kitchen floor. This frequently happens when you purchase a new refrigerator or move your refrigerator to a new location.

How to fix it:

  1. Use a level on top of the refrigerator to measure from front to back and side to side.
  2. If your fridge has leveling legs, use a wrench to raise or lower the refrigerator. Check your manual to determine the necessary wrench size.
  3. Use a screwdriver to raise or lower the refrigerator if your fridge has adjustable rollers.
  4. You may need to use shims beneath the rear end of the refrigerator if you have a freestanding fridge.

Hire a pro? Moving a refrigerator can be a safety hazard. Call a professional for assistance if it seems too difficult or dangerous.

4. Warped or Cracked Drain Pan

What to check for: Refrigerator drain pans collect water from the defrost drain tube, where water eventually evaporates. Water can leak out of the pan beneath the front of the fridge or at the fridge’s rear if the pan is damaged.

How to fix it:

  1. Remove the grille or cover panel at the refrigerator’s base to access the drain pan.
  2. Check the pan for damage or improper placement.
  3. Reposition the drain pan properly or replace it.

Hire a pro? Most homeowners can access the drain. If the drain pan is full and there are no signs of damage, consider calling a professional, as the leak may have been caused by something else.

5. Faulty Door Seals

What to check for: When a door gasket or seal breaks and the refrigerator door is slightly open, condensation can form on the ceiling and drip down into the fridge. Check to see if your fridge’s interior is warm or whether the fridge is constantly running.

How to fix it:

  1. Look for dirt or debris that’s gathered around the seal that may be preventing the fridge’s door from sealing properly.
  2. Use warm water, dish soap, and a dishcloth to clean the refrigerator. Wipe down the gasket and the surface it seals against. Dry the gasket with a towel.
  3. If the gasket is cracked, order a replacement from your refrigerator’s manufacturer.
  4. Lift the gasket’s edge to expose hidden screws, and remove the screws with a screwdriver. 
  5. Warm the new gasket with a hairdryer that’s on the lowest setting to make the gasket more flexible.
  6. Align the new gasket, and screw it into place.

Hire a pro? Homeowners can take the DIY approach, but hire a pro if you don’t feel comfortable replacing a gasket.

Our Recommendation

Most of these quick fixes are DIY-friendly, but if you’ve tried to fix your fridge and it’s still leaking water, then it’s best to call a professional. Don’t ignore any issue for too long, as leaks can lead to bigger problems, such as water damage. You may even need to replace your fridge completely. Check your refrigerator warranty, if you have one, as it may give you discounts on repair or replacement costs.

Leaking Refrigerator FAQ

Are there any signs to look for that indicate my fridge is leaking water?

Signs to look for that indicate your fridge is leaking are dripping water or pooling water underneath your refrigerator or at the bottom of the fridge’s interior. If you notice a musty smell or your fridge isn’t keeping your food cool, you may be dealing with a coolant issue.

What is the most common cause for a fridge leaking water?

The most common cause for a fridge leaking water is a clogged defrost drain. Food particles can clog the drain hose, and condensation will eventually pool on the floor.

What should I do if my refrigerator is leaking?

If you notice your refrigerator is leaking, find the cause. The most common causes are blocked defrost drains or water supply lines. You can also check the drip pan under your fridge for signs of damage or improper placement or use a level to ensure your appliance is even.