What to do if your fridge is leaking water

Woman with dark brown hair wearing a white top looking into an oven white fridge.
(Image credit: Getty)

Large appliances are great when they work properly, however finding a wet patch on your floor can leave you wondering whether your fridge is leaking water. No matter whether you have a small mini version that sits next to your desk, or a grand French door style, it can encounter the same problems.

Most of the time our fridges will cause zero issues and perform efficiently, which is to keep food fresh and safe to eat, by regulating the temperature that circulates inside. Sometimes, things go wrong, and you may notice water leaking from your fridge, and even causing a puddle. The good thing is if you notice this quickly, you can then get it fixed fast. 

Inadequate domestic refrigeration or cooling is frequently cited as a factor in incidents of food poisoning (opens in new tab), which is why you must solve any issues happening with your fridge, as soon as you catch them.

Here’s everything you need to know about what to do if your fridge is leaking water so that you can keep your food fresh and safe to eat.

What to do if your fridge is leaking water 

What the expert says...

“Many of the reasons for the fridge, not cooling can also cause water to leak out,” says Alison Haselgrove, a Food Industry Professional at FIFST (opens in new tab). “This often happens if the fridge has to work too hard and is constantly trying to cool or drainage outlets have become blocked or frozen solid in combined fridges or freezers.” These problems can often be solved by you, at home, but in the case that the problem persists, it’s best to contact a technician, to ensure that your food stays fresh and safe to eat. 

1. Dirty or broken door seals are stopping the door from shutting tightly

The purpose of the door seals is to stop air from entering the fridge, as this could lower the cool temperature. If the seal of your door is clogged with food or other debris, or your seal is broken, then condensation can begin in the fridge and you'll start to notice leakage.

2. Dirty coils at the back of the fridge

Condenser coils are found either at the back of the fridge or on the bottom. The purpose of these coils is to cool and condense the fridge, so if they become blocked or dirty, it can lead to leaking from the inside as the fridge isn’t keeping the temperature as it should.

3. The temperature setting is wrong

If you notice that your fridge temperature is too high and is freezing over chilled food, or is too low and is not chilling foods as well, then you may be struggling with a broken thermostat, or simply one that needs readjusting.

4. Debris has blocked the defrost drain

If your defrost drain is clogged, your fridge is likely to be leaking. The purpose of the defrost drain is to prevent the fridge from freezing, and cleverly automatically defrosts. If food clogs this drain up, then a build-up can lead to water leaking from your fridge.

5. Ice has built up in the freezer in a combined unit

This is most likely to happen when the door has been left ajar accidentally - and in that case, it’s time for a defrost! An excess build-up of ice can lead to the drains becoming blocked, and the whole freezer system failing to work as efficiently as it should.

How to fix your fridge’s leaking problem

First of all, you want to ensure that your fridge is on even ground, to allow everything to flow through the systems as it should.

1. Dirty or broken door seals are stopping the door from shutting tightly

The most likely cause of a seal that isn't working right is that it's dirty and blocked with debris, so you should give it a clean to make sure nothing is causing the door to become stuck or stay ajar. If this doesn't work, it may be that your seal is broken, and you need to replace it.

2. Dirty coils at the back of the fridge

To clean the condenser coils, you should try and remove any fluff or debris, and clean them with a coil cleaning rough brush if possible. Do this gently to prevent any damage, and then vacuum any dust that is attached.

3. The temperature setting is wrong

If your thermostat is set to the wrong setting, make sure that it's adjusted to the right temperature, which is recommended to be around 5˚C (opens in new tab). If this doesn't make a difference, then it's likely that your thermostat has seen better days, and needs to be replaced. Temperature control should be steady and consistent to keep your food safe and fresh. Make sure to act quickly and get it seen by a technician.

4. Debris has blocked the defrost drain

You can find out if your drain is clogged up by testing it - just run some water through it, and if it doesn't come through the other side, you've got a blockage. You can try to unclog the drain by pulling out any visible debris, but if this still doesn’t improve the blockage, then you’ll need a technician to take a look.

5. Ice has built up in the freezer in a combined unit

Firstly, you should check over any ice cube trays, freeze packs, and areas that particularly attract high quantities of ice. If things look like they are due a defrost, it’s probably because they are. You may notice freezer burn on your food too or lots of white-looking ice. Defrost your freezer compartment and clean out the area before returning it to use. You also need to check over valves located near the back of the freezer to ensure that they're not leaking, if they are, you'll need the help of a technician.

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Mollie is a UK based, Welsh, lifestyle journalist. She writes frequently on all things involving women, health, and lifestyle. Her work can be found in Cosmopolitan, Insider, the Independent, HuffPost and more. In her spare time, you’ll find her at the pottery wheel or walking her basset hound.

With contributions from