If you’ve ever enjoyed a cold glass of water or a quickly iced drink on a summer day, you know how valuable your fridge ice maker can be. No more dealing with emptying and refilling ice trays. No more warm drinks when what you really want is something iced down. But with great refrigeration comes great responsibility. Ice makers are notorious for breaking down in one way or another. Sometimes they get clogged, sometimes they stop producing ice and, perhaps the worst, sometimes the start leaking all over the freezer and floor.
Today, we’re here to explore why your ice maker is leaking, how to identify the cause, and a few practical tips on how to solve each potential cause of the leak. Here are the top six ways to check on your ice maker to determine why it might be leaking.
Check the Water Lines and Tighten Connections
The water for ice and cold water in your fridge has to come from somewhere. Mainly, it comes from a thin pipe or tube that is connected to the cold water supply of your house. In most kitchens, this line is run from beneath the kitchen sink to an entry point behind the back of the fridge. If any part of this water line is damaged or loose, it could result in the leaking that you are experiencing.
As you track the line back to its source under the sink, pay close attention to any damage in the tubing or signs of buildup inside that may be causing problems. At each point where the water line is connected, tighten the connection. If need be, use the saddle splitter valve to cut off water to the fridge entirely while you work.
Break Up Ice Jams
With the water lines checked and resecured, your next concern is ice jams. Any freezer compartment has the potential to build up ice and ice makers are even more at risk with the large chunks of ice that they produce. The problem is that ice in the chute ready for delivery can melt a little and re-freeze together into one solid no longer-cubed shape. When this happens, new ice can’t get down the chute and melting is the only solution without help. This melting may manifest as the leaking you were perceived as coming from the ice maker.
If clogged ice in the chute or in the trays is causing problems, break it up. Ice in your fridge door chute can often be broken up with the handle of a wooden spoon to apply the force and reach necessary without hurting your hands on extremely cold or sharp ice. Be firm with the ice when breaking it up, but also be careful not to damage your fridge in the meantime. Putting down a towel and pouring warm water over an ice jam is another way to gently break it up.
Align the Ice Cube Fill Valve & Cup
Inside the ice machine are ice trays that the fridge handles on its own. There is a small spigot that fills the ice cube fill cup which freezes the ice into cubes. However, if something goes wrong with this little water distribution system, then it can easily cause a leak coming directly out of the ice maker. The fill valve must be aligned with the fill cup in order for the water to be caught and frozen into cubes. IF they are not aligned, the fill valve will pour unfrozen water directly into the ice maker compartment causing leaks before it has a chance to freeze.
Take a look inside your ice maker housing to identify the fill valve and fill cup scenario. If they appear to be out of alignment, carefully nudge or fasten them into place so that the valve never overflows by missing the fill cup again.
Clear Out the Condensation Drains
The condensation drain is meant to drain out any excess water or ice melt from the freezer compartment to keep things tidy. Every now and then the fridge will run a defrost cycle which is actually meant to melt off any built-up freezer-burn ice and keep the freezer tidy. However, if the condensation drains itself ices over, then it cannot drain the fridge and leaks can occur as a result.
Look for the condensation drain in your model of refrigerator and check the area above and around it. If a thin layer of ice has formed over the drain, then this is the problem. You may also find that freezer burn or even fallen and refrozen ice cubes are the source of the drain blockage and of the leaks that occurred when the water could not drain.
Level the Fridge & Ice Maker
Another interesting solution to a continuously leaky fridge or ice maker is to grab your handy level. A bubble or a laser level can both be effective tools in this endeavor. The theory is that refrigerators leak when condensation from defrost builds up and can’t find the drain. And ice makers leak when the components are out of alignment.
Both these facts come together to suggest that an uneven fridge or crookedly installed icemaker may well be the source of your leak problems. When you’re ready, take a level reading for the bottom of the fridge. If it is uneven, do everything you can from extending the feet to propping the fridge up on old books to make sure your refrigerator is level.
Next, make sure your ice machine is level. Use your bubble or laser level to identify whether the ice machine was installed unevenly or if a non-symmetrical shape is part of the design. Either way, the floor of the ice maker compartment should be level so that water winds up where it’s supposed to be and not all over your kitchen floor.
Check Your Water Filter & Dispenser
Finally, take a moment to check out your fridge water filter and dispenser. This filter should be changed out every few months (though few people ever change it out) and the entire cold fridge water apparatus could be the source of your leaks. Check the cold water line’s security and tight connections, then trace it back to the water filter. If water is dripping from the housing, this is not normal and should be looked into. If water is pooling beneath the filter, then somewhere in that specific apparatus is a crack to be repaired.
—When you notice that your fridge or ice machine is leaking, your first priority is to minimize mold risk and to keep your family safe from harm. Always unplug your fridge before attempting any DIY solutions and consider switching off the water at the saddle joint as well. For more refrigerator repair insights or a professional assessment of your refrigerator or ice machine leak, contact us today!