Why Is My Refrigerator Leaking Water?

Drain is plugged

Always unplug the refrigerator before you work on it. Review safety procedures.

The most common problem in a refrigerator that is leaking is a plugged drain. All frost free refrigerators have a defrost cycle that melts the frost and ice that may build up on the evaporator coils and the water is channeled off to a pan or tray located outside of the refrigerator, usually underneath the refrigerator near the compressor.

The drain can be plugged with bits of food, ice, or plastic bag closers. In some refrigerators this drain is easily located and can be cleaned resulting in normal operation. However, most refrigerators have this drain located behind a back panel and will require some disassembly  to access the drain. This process takes some patience and time.

Make a note about where the water is coming from. Is it coming out of the freezer compartment, is it coming out of the fresh food compartment, is it coming from under the refrigerator, is it leaking from the back. How often does it leak? Twice a day or more?

Choose the scenario that fits you:

Side By Side Refrigerator

If your refrigerator/freezer is a side by side model, then the leak would generally be coming from the freezer section and it would make some ice on the floor of the freezer until any depression was filled and then it would leak out the front of the freezer compartment onto the floor about 2 or 3 times a day. Depending on conditions, you could expect to see around 1 to 1 1/2 cups of water on the floor. In dryer conditions, the amount could be less.

If upon inspection, you find these conditions, then you most likely have a plugged drain. This is a moderately difficult job and should be attempted by those who have a good mechanical sense, who can follow safety rules for refrigerators and can follow directions. If you cannot do these things, please call a service center and have a certified repairman make the repair.

Unplug the refrigerator before attempting to service or repair.  Failure to do so could cause severe damage to your refrigerator and serious injury.

For the brave: You will need to remove the back panel in the freezer. This panel is quite often a two piece panel that is held in place with 4 or 5 screws or 1/4 inch nuts. If the lower panel can be removed without removing the top panel, this is ideal. Remove the bottom panel. The drain is located on the bottom of this area. If it is plugged, the depression under the coils will be filled with ice. The ice needs to be defrosted. Since this can be a thick piece of ice, it may take some time to melt the ice. You must be patient. You must not use any sharp tool or object to chip away at the ice. Severe damage can be done to your refrigerator and injury could result.

Defrosting can be achieved by leaving the freezer door open and waiting several hours. Place a couple of large towels on the floor of the freezer to catch the water. Change the towels as they collect water. Ice that can be removed by picking it up may be removed. Do not pry, poke, cut, or otherwise try to mechanically remove the ice, doing so may cause damage or injury.

Fast defrosting can be achieved with hot water. Use hot water from the faucet. Do not heat water, boiling water could damage certain components in the freezer. Place a couple of bath towels on the bottom of the freezer. Place a large bowl of hot water on the towels. Using a cup or turkey baster, pour water on the ice. Do this about every 5 to 10 minutes until the ice is melted. This should reveal a drain in the bottom of the back panel. When the ice is thoroughly melted. The drain can be inspected. When you pour water in the depression, it should drain immediately through the drain hole. If it does not, then the drain is plugged.

Caution, fast defrosting will create more water, if you have wood floors or other surfaces that cannot take water, then do not use this method.

You need to unplug the drain, remove any debris in the tray and opening to the drain. A flexible tube, pipe cleaner, or bottle brush can be used to open the drain. When the drain is opened, it should be flushed thoroughly with water.


Side by Side Refrigerator
Side by Side Refrigerator
Door Open
Door Open

Freezer on the Top, Top and Bottom

Is the water leaking out of the fresh food compartment? Pull the crisper trays out of the bottom of the refrigerator. Is there water collecting in the depression under the crisper?

Check that area to make sure the drain is not located under the crisper, although this is not common, some refrigerators utilize this method of draining the refrigerator. If there is a drain, it needs to be cleared of whatever is plugging it and you are back in service, as easy as that.

However, most top and bottom units have a drain that runs from the bottom back of the freezer compartment to the bottom of the refrigerator to an evaporation pan located near the compressor. This may be a more difficult drain to open and clear.

To determine where the drain is, look at the back of the refrigerator to see if there is a tube coming from the center of the refrigerator about the height of the bottom of the freezer compartment. Hooked to that would be a hard plastic tube that runs to the drip tray under the refrigerator. If you see that, then this is the place where the water is supposed to drain.

The tube that goes through the back of the refrigerator may come from the back of the fresh food compartment where it has a small tray about 2 inches square that catches water dripping from the freezer compartment. This small tray is removable and generally can be taken out by pulling on it. You will see than that it is plugged and needs to be cleaned and opened up. You may have to remove a cover from the back of the refrigerator which is normally a plastic decorative cover. Other components could be located under the cover, so caution should be used in removing it.

It is possible that the hole from above is plugged or filled with ice. This may require that you remove the back panel in the freezer to access the drip tray. Please follow all safety procedures. If you open the panel and there is an ice dam, then it must be defrosted in order to gain access to the drip tray. Slow and steady is the required approach, do not try to speed up the defrosting by chipping, scraping, or prying with anything. This could result in severe damage to your refrigerator and serious injury.

Caution should be used in removal of the back panel since other components could be tied to the panel. If there is an ice maker, it must be removed and the ground wire must be removed. In some refrigerators, the evaporator fan could be tied to the back panel. If it must be removed, then carefully inspect the mounting and be sure to remember how it came out. A paper drawing and labels with a pencil could save you a lot of time when you reassemble these parts. Simple pencil labels with arrows indicating direction of mounting could be helpful.

Once the drip tray is cleared, Pour a small amount of water in the tray, like 1/2 cup and see if it drains to the pan on the bottom. It is possible to have two problems where the ice dam occurred due to a plugged drain.

The Ice Maker is Leaking

Water is brought to the refrigerator through a connector on the back. It is connected to a water valve normally located on the bottom of the back of the refrigerator near the bottom.

  1. The ice maker could be leaking in several places:
  2. The connection to the water valve may not be tight or seated properly
  3. The tube carrying the water to the ice maker could have a loose connection
  4. The ice maker could be faulty and could be calling for too much water too often check the ice bin for solid ice or an ice dam
  5. The tube that comes in through the back could be misaligned and the water is spilling inside the freezer

Turn the water off to the ice maker and see if that cures the problem, if it does, then the leak is somewhere in the ice maker set up.

The Refrigerator Was recently Moved

If you just moved the refrigerator to a new location, the move may have misaligned the hose that comes down or the pan itself. Check to see that all portions of the drain and pan are fitting properly and that the drain tube is not misaligned.

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Comments 32 comments

BJBenson profile image

BJBenson 6 years ago from USA

Thanks for the great informtion.

Adam9001 profile image

Adam9001 6 years ago

Man I had this problem w/ a side by side

SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

Adam9001 I hope this has helped understanding what causes this annoying problem. I appreciate you reading my hub. Thanks.

ExpandYourMind profile image

ExpandYourMind 6 years ago from Midwest USA

I have this problem with my furnance when the air conditioner is running. I will check for a blocked drain. Thanks for being willing to share your expertise.

SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

You must have a heat pump, yes the most likely cause is a plugged drain. Should be a simple fix. Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment.

risto 6 years ago

great text!

SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

Thanks Risto, appreciate the read and comment.

Johnny Joe profile image

Johnny Joe 5 years ago from USA

Wow. A great job done. You have explained everything regarding the refrigerator leaking issues. I thought of removing the back panel when I had this issue. However, I did not dare to do that and contacted support.

SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 5 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

Johnny Joe thanks for the kind words. Glad you found it informative, I plan to have some video in the future that may help people take a more daring course of events. I hope that helps.

Brent 5 years ago


I think that I may have the same problem. I have a hissing sound (small pressure water leak) and dripping sound, coming from the lower rear of my fridge. I've looked and can not see water running, pooling, or otherwise. Moving the fridge out to get behind it, the water connection came loose and it did start to leak visible water. I tightened that, stopped the leak, still the hissing and dripping sounds though. My water dispenser works, haven't verified that the ice maker does though. any insight?

Rich 5 years ago

Awsome, this fixed it. Too bad I didn't do this 2 years ago when the "mysterious" puddles had been forming. Now I have a rotted floor to fix. Fortunatly I fixed my side-by-side Fridg.

SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 5 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

Brent You may be hearing the defrost cycle. Is the sound continuous or intermittent? If it is intermittent and you hear it only sometimes, you are probably hearing the defrost cycle. The refrigerator turns on a heater a couple times a day, the coils defrost and the water hitting the heaters makes a sizzling sound. This takes about 15 to 20 minutes each time.

If it is continuous, you may be hearing the defrost timer. If there is no water, then it is likely that you are hearing the mechanical timer which may sound like a hissing maybe more like a rapid ticking.

If by chance, the sound is water, you can eliminate the problem by turning the water to the ice maker dispenser off. Check in a couple of hours to see if you hear the sound.

If your have water inside the refrigerator, you may have a leak in the water dispenser.

SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 5 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

Rich Glad you finally were able to fix the problem. Too bad about the floor, at least it won't get worse. Good luck and thanks for reading.

Romian1 profile image

Romian1 5 years ago

I have a leak under my top freezer fridge and documented in hubpages at

I identified that the leak (a small puddle about 1/8 cup) occurs under the fridge whenever the icemaker is making ice. My workaround is just to use the old fashion ice maker trays. It will be a while before I get to removing all the food so I can move the fridge and access the back or underneath. I have a broken finger preventing me to do many things. Ugh!

Thanks for your article. It is so much better than all the refrigerator repair articles on the 'Net.

SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 5 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

You may have a very simple problem, there is a tube that goes through the back of the fridge to bring water through the back wall, it may not be in the correct position or the water supply line on the back of it may be loose. It sounds like you are not getting any leak when the ice maker is off. There is a connection to the water valve that leads up the fridge, that may be loose, tighten the conncections and you might be good to go. The other possibility is that the water supply line from the water valve to the top of the fridge has a leak, replace it for about $10. Also, easy to do.

tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa

Thanks for this info. It might just help me with the problem I have with our fridge.

Love and peace


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 5 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

@tonymac04 I hope this helps, that's why I wrote it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Peace! I like it.

National Appliance Repair LLC 5 years ago

Great info. Thanks

whitton profile image

whitton 5 years ago

Nice Hub and very useful information. My friend's fridge has been acting up and leaking and now I can suggest these areas that you have mentioned. Thanks for the help!!

SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 5 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

@whitton Glad to see it might be helpful. I hope it works. Thanks for stopping by.

commercialrefrigeration 5 years ago

An excellent article. Very useful and simple to follow. So many people assume the worst when they develop problems with their refrigerator, but the majority of fixes are actually very simple. Thanks.

Calvin 5 years ago

Thanks! An excellent place of resources. My refrig(GE profile performace) recently had problem of leaking water. It was from the ice dispenser. I can see the thin water trace frim outside of the door. It seems that the water is dripping down from the water hose in the ice dispenser. Any idea how to fixed? how can I disassemble the door so I can look inside the dispenser? Thanks!

Jim 5 years ago

My GE Profile side-by-side is also leaking water from the rear right. I pulled it out and removed the lower grill. After emptying the collection tray, I noticed that water drips from the black unit (condenser?) when the water dispenser is used. I also noticed that after a repairman had come out to fix the electrical connection for the ice/water dispenser, there suddenly was a delay of about 2 seconds every time the water dispenser was pressed. Does that suggest anything I might be able to repair myself? Do I need to remove the large back panel? Thanks for your great help.

French Door 5 years ago

French Door refrigerators have dual refrigerator doors and a pullout freezer drawer for convenient fresh and frozen food storage.

Meg 5 years ago

I have had a leaking problem for over 2 years. I would take everything out, open both doors and let it sit unplugged for hours and after a day or two it would start leaking again. Last night I read something somewhere to turn the temperature down in both the freezer and refrig.,so I did that this morning and left for the day. That tube that everyone is talking about most of defrosted and of course there was water from the defrosting, but after I dried everything off, no more dripping. It has been a couple of years dripping and now no more dripping. I am so excited. Turn the temp down and have dry fresh mushrooms and excellent dry Wisconsin cheese when you open your refrig. I can't find the original suggestion and who wrote it, but you are a genious.Thanks.

Sherri 5 years ago

I have a side by side with freezer on left. The right door has a drip coming out from the bottom of the door from the little hole on the bottom of door. This does not seem to be connected at all to the freezer so where is the leak coming from?

mmrodriguez 3 years ago

my refrigerator is leaking from the bottom

Rcd 3 years ago

Good stuff. Found the leak and saw water dripping right before my eyes. But I'm allergic fix-em-up projects. Called Sears. Paid $200 for repairs.

RKM 2 years ago

I had a GE Profile side-by-side. The ice maker stopped making ice, and I should have known. We had a guy from sears come out, who told us it was most likely the pump, but he wasn't sure, and we would need to order a $350 part to tell. We didn't pay for that visit. What he didn't notice was the puddle on the floor behind the refrigerator (would have helped if he had pulled it out) that eventually rotted the floor out. There are two plastic water lines coming from an electronically-controlled valve switch in the back on the bottom. Right next to it is a sticker that warns you *not* to use plastic water lines to the wall because they may age and leak. These two lines run right next to the condenser, which gets very warm. By the time I found the issue, the plastic tubes were basically disintegrated next to the condenser, and every time it would cycle to refill the ice maker, it would pour a cup of water on the floor. Ended up replacing the subfloor, hardwood, everything. Never GE again, and never Sears again.

Kimberly77 2 years ago

I have a bottom mount fridge, no ice maker... Kenmore brand.. I have to dump water out of the right crisper drawer every week and there is usually a yellow line going down the back of the drawer... Everything else seems fine... Any ideas???

Huligirl 4 months ago

I have a GE Profile side by side with an ice / water despenser in the door. Water is leaking from under the ice despenser panel and runs down the door. Where is this coming from? I have searched the internet and have not found a solution. I had a repair man look at it and he took the panel off and caulked around it to create a seal. ( like that would really solve the problem) Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Amy 3 months ago

My refrigerator has a small leak inside in the back center. We have shut off the water supply to the ice maker thinking that that was the problem but it still leaks about 1/2 cup of water a day. And it seems to only leak at night. Help!

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