In the event that you are unsure whether the fridge or freezer is the source of the water, follow the steps below and the ice maker leaking page to track down the problem.
It's important to perform regular fridge maintenance before trying these fixes. Your appliance should last for at least 10-15 years before needing replacement, so keep it running well with these refrigerator maintenance tips.
Safety Note: Power Down the Fridge
Before removing and replacing or continuity testing electrical components, power down the fridge. This will prevent damage to the components and prevent you from being electrocuted. Still, some electrical components — like capacitors — will store their charge and should not be tampered with.
- If the fridge is pulled away from the wall, or if the power switch is easily accessible, remove the plug.
- Otherwise, find the fridge’s circuit breaker in your breaker box and turn the circuit off.
- Verify your fridge has lost power by opening the doors and seeing if the fridge lights turn on.
Safety Note: Sharp Sheet Metal
When working underneath the fridge, consider wearing gloves to avoid cuts from the sharp sheet metal. The sheet metal is the thin structural metal where components mount. While wearing gloves may make work more challenging, it’s worth protecting yourself.
Out of Level Fridge
A fridge out of level may refuse to cooperate and cool effectively.
- Start by adjusting the front feet. Use a bubble level and correct any side-to-side wonkiness in the fridge.
- Tilt the fridge front up slightly, around 1/4-1/2 inch. This will allow doors to close on their own, increase efficiency, and prevent ice maker issues.
Air in the Line
If the refrigerator has been recently installed, or you have just replaced the water filter, there may be air in the water line. Dispense water for three minutes to clear the water line.
Clogged Condensation or Defrost Drain
The condensation drain allows excess water in the freezer to exit through the bottom of the fridge. This is usually triggered by your fridge's defrost cycle. Sometimes this water ends up in a drain pan, other times it ends up sitting in the drain where the condenser fan slowly evaporates the water. If the drain freezes, this water will freeze in your system and cause water to find a new way out, often into the fridge compartment.
- Open the freezer and verify the defrost drain isn't blocked by items.
- Check the drain for blockages from crumbs or ice. Remove the plastic cover over the drain hole.
- Use air to blow the lines clear from the bottom, if possible.
- Melt any built-up ice with a hairdryer on low, or use a turkey baster and funnel for flushing warm water down the defrost drain.
One community fix involves installing a metal wire or unfolded metal coat hanger down the drain hole, with the other end attached to the resistance heater. This will remove ice from the drain, and allow humidity buildup (moisture) to always escape the system. See another fixer's solution to high humidity environments.
Old Water Filter
A filter that hasn't been changed in 6 or more months may be causing machine faults. Replace the filter and run another cycle. If water is leaking from the water filter housing, this suggests a too-loose filter or further repair.
Faulty Drain Pan
Underneath your fridge may be a large and wide drain pan. Water that leaves regularly through the defrost drain ends up in this pan where it's warmed by the condenser. During normal operating conditions, this water will not build up.
- Inspect your drain pan. If you see water accumulating underneath and pooling on the floor, your pan may be warped or otherwise cracked.
- Replace the drain pan.
Faulty Water Inlet Valve
If the temperature is correct but the ice maker won’t work, the water inlet valve might be defective. The water inlet valve is an electrically-controlled mechanical valve that opens to supply water to the dispenser and ice maker. If the water inlet valve is defective, or if it has insufficient pressure, it won’t allow water to flow through. The valve requires at least 20 psi to function properly.
- Make sure that the water pressure to the valve is at least 20 psi. Close the water valve from the wall, and then disconnect the water inlet valve hose. Hold the hose over a bucket, and open the valve.
If the water pressure is sufficient, use a multimeter to check for continuity to the water inlet valve.
- A water inlet valve should read a resistance value between 500Ω- 1.5kΩ. Outside of this range suggests failure.
If the water inlet valve has sufficient pressure and is getting power, but the ice maker won’t fill with water to make ice, replace the water inlet valve.
Loose, Leaking, or Frozen Plumbing Connections
Interruption in the flow of water through the water line leading to the ice maker can account for no new ice production. This can mean a closed valve, a kink or clog in the line, or a disconnection in the line.
- Inspect every valve, line, and connector for leaks. Replace and tighten as you move along.
The water line may have become frozen as it moved through or near the freezer. If your ice maker is malfunctioning this too suggests a frozen water line.
- Locate the water line and trace the entire line for ice.
- Blow air through the water line to check for blockages, and check each junction.
- If you do find ice, use a hair dryer on low and allow the ice to melt in the line or fittings. Alternatively, use a syringe or other hose to add warm water into the line. Replace cracked plastic parts.
Set your freezer between 0 and 10 deg Fahrenheit (-12 to -18 deg Celsius) to prevent the water line from freezing again.