Why does my fridge create a pond inside ?
August 6, 2007 8:16 PM   Subscribe

Why does water constantly collect in our fridge?

So here's the deal, we bought our home over a year ago, about 9 months in to it, 3 months ago, our fridge started producing about a cup of water a day that collects in the very bottom of the fridge (inside) under the crisper drawers and along the lower shelf. This often ices up. the Freezer is just fine, no excess moisture there, it's a frostless, so that's a good thing.

I've checked the seals around the doors, tweaked the temperature up and down to no avail. I'm at the point of pulling the sucker our and checking the condenser coils and rear of the fridge for obstructions.

The fridge and freezer cools just fine, it just makes quite a bit of water/etc and is getting to the point where it's ruining the food.

The moisture appears to be coming from the upper part of the fridge near the back where the cooled air enters the fridge cabin space. The Fridge is a Whirlpool ET21PKXWF00. Freezer on top, Fridge on the bottom. any hints/etc you guys have is much appreciated, I really don't want to replace the sucker as it is otherwise in good working order.
posted by iamabot to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Is it humid where you are?

We are having what could be the same problem with our freezer - if we open it more than a few times a day, water starts showing up all over the place (before eventually freezing). Does the water show up even if you, say, don't open up the refrigerator for a day or two?
posted by niles at 8:22 PM on August 6, 2007

Does it have a ice maker or water dispenser?
posted by winston at 8:24 PM on August 6, 2007

Best answer: It's likely that your defrost drain is plugged.

It's easy to fix. You'll have to remove all the food from the freezer. Find the spot where the cold air enters the fridge from the freezer compartment (this is going to be frozen too).

Remove the bottom plate from your freezer compartment to access that channel. Pour hot water down the channel until water starts pouring into your fridge. (Place a bowl there to catch it.)

I had to to this a few months ago. It's a pain in the ass, but it happens, and it's an easy DIY fix.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:29 PM on August 6, 2007 [3 favorites]

I think that you're supposed to defrost your fridge once a year. Doing that usually fixes this problem.
posted by k8t at 8:33 PM on August 6, 2007

(As for the above advice, a wet/dry vac comes in really handy.)

(And on preview, self-defrosting fridges can get frozen up if you store too much crap in them, like I do.)
posted by mudpuppie at 8:35 PM on August 6, 2007

Response by poster: Answers to the above:

We live in the bay area, it's not really that humid here.

It has an ice maker, but the ice maker is not hooked up to any water source, no water dispenser.

We can defrost the Fridge/etc when we explore mudpuppie's suggestion above.

The wet/dry vac us parked next to the fridge currently anyway as it's easiest the easiest way to get the liquid out.

If anyone has any other suggestions I'll give mudpuppies suggestion a shot this week. Thanks all!
posted by iamabot at 8:57 PM on August 6, 2007

Mudpuppie is right. Ours does it about twice a year. It is a pain but it will fix the problem.
posted by nimsey lou at 9:19 PM on August 6, 2007

Best answer: Frost free fridges in correct working order do not need to be defrosted, not even once a year. This problem is also completely fixable with at most a couple hours labour.

Water in the bottom of the fridge is caused by three things:
  1. plugged drain tube.
  2. plugged or frozen defrost pan.
  3. some other defect in the drain system.
Your drain pan is located in your freezing compartment of your fridge. It collects the condensate that is melted off the refrigeration coil by the defrost heaters. It directs the water to the drain tube system which takes it to the outside of the fridge where it is evaporated, often with an assist from the waste heat from the condenser.

If your fridge is equipped with a pan heating element and the element fails ice will form on the pan and eventually block the drain. This would account for the cyclic problem cured with a manual defrost that kat and nimsey lou report. The same symptoms can present themselves with a partially blocked drain (corn kernels are a common drain blocker). A secondary symptom of this condition is clear solid ice in the bottom of the freezer compartment. If a manual defrost doesn't clear a blocked pan the blockage is full and not ice and disassembly will be required to clear the blockage.

At the top centre back of your fresh compartment you'll usually have a small cup of rubber or plastic. If that cup has water or ice in it the problem is actually a blockage of your drain tube. Because it is a narrow spot the blockage is often at the exit of the cup or on the outside of your fridge where the tube takes a 90 degree bend down to the evaporator pan. If you can remove the cup do so and clean it out otherwise you might need to remove the tube/90 from the back; it's about 75/25. Sometimes a flexible piece of plastic, like a zip-tie, can be used like an drain auger to clear the blockage.

If you can post a picture of the top centre of your fresh food compartment and/or a picture of your freezing compartment I may be able to help you with disassembly instructions.
posted by Mitheral at 10:38 PM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Could this also be a remedy for the strange gurgling sound coming from the bottom of my refrigerator?

Upon each closing, the tube underneath the whole fridge goes... 'glug glug glug glug glug glug....'

Only one way to find out!
posted by blastrid at 1:42 AM on August 7, 2007

Mudpuppy is right, but I once lived in a rental with this problem and didn't want to deal with it. So I put a dishtowel at the bottom of the fridge under the crisper drawers. Every few days I'd quickly wring it out and put it back. The low temp prevented any gross growth and I didn't have to take apart anything.
posted by phearlez at 7:27 AM on August 7, 2007

Response by poster: Again thanks to everyone for their responses, the big green saves the day again.

Of course now I don't have an excuse for a new fridge but ahh well, this one will go totally tits up eventually.
posted by iamabot at 12:58 PM on August 7, 2007

I had this problem, too, and it was a plugged drain line, but not the one from the frost free freezer. The line that was plugged on my fridge drained a little trough just underneath the cooling coils in the refrigerator compartment. These coils are probably at the back of the top shelf in your refrigerator, and this drain line should be checked first, in my opinion, because you don't have to take anything apart to get to it.

Cleaning it was a little more complicated than pouring hot water down it, however. Mine was plugged by some kind of slime, which I cleaned out with the spare gear shift cable for my bicycle.
posted by jamjam at 3:38 PM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

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