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Help! My Fridge Water Line Is Leaking – What Should I Do?

When you reach inside the fridge, you don’t think about its small plumbing network. When the refrigerator water line leaks and leaves puddles on the floor, you immediately wonder, “What do I do now?”

The damage from a leaking fridge water line quickly seeps into adjacent walls. It can compromise wiring and result in serious problems with the refrigerator.

ServiceMaster of Lake Shore has more than 28 years of experience restoring kitchens soaked by faulty refrigerators. We’re sharing that expertise so that you can get this soggy situation under control.

Before You Get Started

  • Carefully move the refrigerator forward so that you can access the back.
  • Unplug the fridge, and turn off the water at the supply line’s shutoff valve.
  • Wear non-slip shoes, and keep dry towels and a bucket handy.
  • Keep your hands free and the work area well-lit with a small headlamp.
  • Check your toolbox for a wrench, adjustable pliers, a utility knife and plumber’s tape.

How to Fix a Leaking Fridge Water Line

how to fix a leaking fridge water line

The water line on the back of the fridge keeps the ice maker running and the water dispenser ready. When something goes wrong, you need to know what to look for and how to repair it.

These are the five most common problems and fixes for refrigerator water line leaks.

1. Cause: Clogged Line Drain

The water line drain is located on the refrigerator floor, under the produce drawers. Mold buildup and food particles eventually block the drain, forcing water in the line to leak around the drain opening.

Fix: Start by pulling out the produce drawers and lower shelves. Use a turkey baster to push warm water into the drain. Take care of mold with a cotton swab soaked in white vinegar. Finish with a final flush of warm water and dish soap.

Pro Tip: If you’re dealing with a stubborn clog, clear the drain with a pipe cleaner, flush with hot water, and repeat until water flows freely through the drain.

2. Cause: Mold in the Water Line

Mold can thrive in the dark, warm space behind a refrigerator. Add the moisture inside a water supply line, and you have a breeding ground for mold buildup that blocks normal operation, resulting in a leak.

Fix: Flush the line with a mix of equal parts white vinegar and water. Rinse with clear water, and reattach the line. Detach it at the drain, flush the drain with your vinegar and water mix, rinse and reattach the bottom of the supply line.

Pro Tip: Consider installing a water filter designed specifically for refrigerators. This reduces the chance of mold growing in the line, and it improves the quality of dispensed water and ice.

3. Cause: Worn-Out Water Line

Eventually, refrigerator water lines age out. The plastic tubing develops tiny cracks that allow water to slowly leak. Over time, the leakage accumulates under the refrigerator and pools out onto the kitchen floor.

Fix: Measure the leaking section, and remove it with scissors or a utility knife. Secure a new length with clamps or connectors designed for fixing refrigerator water lines.

Pro Tip: Restoration expert Diana Rodriguez-Zaba suggests, “Think about replacing the old line with a braided stainless steel line. It’s a small investment that can head off future problems.”

4. Cause: Loose Supply Line Valves

The refrigerator water supply line connects to your home’s plumbing through an inlet valve and an outlet valve. A minor leak around either component can turn the line into a big source of water damage under the fridge.

Fix: Dry the area around each valve, and then touch the components to determine which one is leaking. Use a small wrench or pliers to tighten the connection, but be careful. Too much pressure can damage the valves.

Pro Tip: Secure a tight seal by disconnecting the leaking valve and wrapping its threads with plumber’s tape before reattaching the supply line. Be sure to wrap the tape in the same direction as the valve thread’s turn.

5. Cause: Moving the Refrigerator

Whether you’re spring-cleaning or just mopping up a spill, shifting the refrigerator’s position can result in leakage. Moving it, especially from side to side, twists the line and creates kinks that split the plastic, causing the line to leak.

Fix: Disconnect the old line at its inlet and outlet valves. Consider wrapping the valves with plumber’s tape, as described in Step 4, and then replacing the damaged line with a new refrigerator water supply line.

Pro Tip: Protect the line with a length of slit garden hose. This keeps it from twisting and rubbing against the backside of the refrigerator.

How to Handle Water Damage From a Refrigerator Water Line Leak

water damage refrigerator water line leak

A refrigerator leak can go unnoticed for several days or even weeks. Once it’s fixed, you may be dealing with the aftermath. Problems can range from damaged flooring to mold growing inside the walls.

These steps make it easier to handle.

  • Clean up as much as you can, and start the drying process by running fans and opening windows.
  • Check areas around the refrigerator to determine the extent of water damage and unhealthy mold growth.
  • Schedule cleanup and remediation with restoration professionals like ServiceMaster of Lake Shore.
  • Call your insurance agent, explain the situation, and arrange for an adjuster’s inspection.
  • Be ready to support your insurance claim with photos documenting the water damage.

Trying to Manage Water Damage From a Fridge Water Line Leak? We’re a Just Phone Call Away!

Cleaning up after a refrigerator line leak can turn into a big job. Once you’ve mopped up the initial mess, you may still be dealing with soaked floors and wet walls. Rooms adjacent to the kitchen can be affected too.

If you’re in the Chicago area, let us do the hard work. Our technicians quickly get the damage under control and restore interiors to their pre-loss condition. We help file homeowners insurance claims too.

When the job is too big to manage, we’re just a phone call away (312) 707-8597.

Helpful Resources

How Mold Can Affect Your Health – EPA

Fixing Household Leaks – EPA

Importance of Smart Water Usage – EPA

FAQs

How can I tell if the water line is leaking behind the fridge?

Carefully pull the refrigerator forward so that you can reach the back of the unit. Slide your hand up and down the water line. If it’s the source of the leak, you’ll feel the moisture.

How can I prevent fridge water line leaks?

Upgrade the water line with a sturdy replacement. Braided stainless steel lines are very durable. Add extra peace of mind with a copper shutoff valve.

Can a refrigerator water line burst?

Yes, the supply line can burst. When it happens, pressure in the line causes water to spray continuously behind the refrigerator. Immediately turn off the line’s supply valve, or shut down your home’s main water supply.

Get Help Now

(312) 707-8597

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Our office is located in downtown Chicago, IL just west of Millennium Park, nearby Willis Tower and Magnificent Mile. We provide 24 hour emergency fire and water damage cleanup to all of Chicagoland including Lincoln Park, Logan Square, Gold Coast, Lake View, Magnificent Mile and Little Village. We also provide a variety of specialty cleaning services.