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  • Apr 2nd, 2018 10:53 am
[OP]
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Mystery leak

Since moving into the house a small pool of water has been accumulating underneath the fridge, which damaged the flooring underneath even though the water line had been turned off. There are no other pipes (above or below the fridge) to cause the leak so I ended up replacing the fridge as it was 20 years old thinking that was the cause. I also replaced the old copper pipe for the water line to the fridge....water is still pooling up under the fridge!! I can't imagine that both fridges just happen to leak. The only other thing I can think of is that condensation is causing it. Any other ideas?
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I don’t know much about how fridges work, but to find mystery leaks, I lay newspaper around to trace the water. It’ll soak up and wrinkle wherever it touches water.

I’d still suspect the water line.

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If there's no piping in the vicinity, then it's likely condensation as you suggest. It is weird given the fridge swap - plus this is normally something you see in the summer months when inside house air is more humid. There's often a condensation drip pan at the bottom of the fridge but the fridge needs to be level for water to properly collect there - and then evaporate back into the house air. Check your fridge for level - it's often the front legs that are too low that causes problems like this.
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Considering you have a new fridge, it does seem really odd that both fridges would be an issue. Is the water pan on the fridge full? Make sure that the drain line on the fridge goes into the pan.

If the waterline is off and replaced, then also seems to rule it out. Wrap a tissue around the welds / joints just to be sure.

What about water from outside? Is it an outside wall or ground level floor? What about the ceiling, any water there? Or the wall? Maybe a leak from above?
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Just saw your other thread. Does the floor slope away from that half wall to the left of your fridge? I suspect that the leak is coming from your wall and not the fridge. Remove the baseboard and check the lower part of the drywall.
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The fridge is not near an exterior wall and it's not on the ground level (main floor of 2 story house). The 2 walls next to the fridge lead hallway and living room - there are NO pipes that run inside those walls. The water is definitely not coming from there ceiling there would be some sort of indication - plus there are no pipes that run there.

It's not the water line because the leak was happening when the water line was shut off.

I had a friend who is a HVAC professional (looks at commercial refrigeration for a living) come twice (he's the one that replaced the copper wire) and he couldn't find the source was sure that it's not coming from the walls or ceiling - he says it must be the fridge but can't see why or where. He also suggested condensation - it's only a small amount . That does seem like the only reasonable explanation but I still don't understand why.
Last edited by hierophant on Feb 24th, 2018 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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The way fridges work:
Every once in a while the fan comes on and circulates air past the freezer coils behind the rear freezer wall. Moisture in the air condenses and freezes on the freezer coils, building up a layer of frost, but drying the air so that the frost won't condense inside your frost-free freezer. A couple of times per day a timer turns on a set of heating wires next to your freezer coils and melts the frost off them, allowing the water to run down a drain tube to a drain pan under the bottom of the fridge. The heating only lasts a few minutes, so your freezer compartment doesn't have enough time to heat up. The water is supposed to evaporate from the drain pan.

So if the drain tube isn't draining into the drain pan properly, then it will run out on the floor under the fridge. That's potential problem #1. But hard to see how two different fridges would do the same thing.

You said that you replaced a copper water pipe leading to the fridge, so I'm guessing you're one of those people who takes the high risk of having a cold water supply from the fridge? It's a risk because running water through the fridge is asking for trouble, and you're bound to get it sooner or later. Anything in the pipe joints or the fridge cold water supply could be leaking. The first thing to do would be to turn off that water supply (you must have a shutoff valve in the pipe, right?), and see if the pool of water dries up and goes away. That's the second potential problem.

If it's neither of those, you have to consider that water can easily run a long way to accumulate at the lowest point, so there's a possibility it has nothing to do with the fridge. It could even be dripping along the pipe to the fridge from a point higher up. Put paper towels around the base of the fridge away from the pool of water, and wrap one around the pipe higher up to try to detect where the water is coming from.
Last edited by Exp315 on Feb 24th, 2018 12:32 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Fridges generate water when they defrost. It's suppose to go into a tray at the bottom of the fridge to evaporate.

Either you have a lot of frost in the fridge (door stuck open or not sealing) or the tray is missing
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There doesn't have to be pipes in the wall or the ceiling for you to have water problems there. Water can travel, so it could be a leak elsewhere. Your roof could also be leaking and water making its way down the wall. That is why people have suggested checking the drywall. Especially because you are having the issue with two fridges now, might suggest it is come from somewhere else.

Do you get water everyday? Maybe pull the fridge out and see if you you get water underneath after leaving it out for a day. Is there enough air circulation around the fridge? Is there ice buildup on the condenser? Is the drain pan full? And did you check that the drain tube is going to the pan?
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don242 wrote: There doesn't have to be pipes in the wall or the ceiling for you to have water problems there. Water can travel, so it could be a leak elsewhere. Your roof could also be leaking and water making its way down the wall. That is why people have suggested checking the drywall. Especially because you are having the issue with two fridges now, might suggest it is come from somewhere else.

Do you get water everyday? Maybe pull the fridge out and see if you you get water underneath after leaving it out for a day. Is there enough air circulation around the fridge? Is there ice buildup on the condenser? Is the drain pan full? And did you check that the drain tube is going to the pan?

Exactly this. Pull the fridge out and see if it's still leaking under the fridge or coming from the wall.
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don242 wrote: There doesn't have to be pipes in the wall or the ceiling for you to have water problems there. Water can travel, so it could be a leak elsewhere. Your roof could also be leaking and water making its way down the wall. That is why people have suggested checking the drywall. Especially because you are having the issue with two fridges now, might suggest it is come from somewhere else.

Do you get water everyday? Maybe pull the fridge out and see if you you get water underneath after leaving it out for a day. Is there enough air circulation around the fridge? Is there ice buildup on the condenser? Is the drain pan full? And did you check that the drain tube is going to the pan?
No not every day - there was only a tiny pool of water after not having checked for almost 4 weeks. I did pull out the old fridge and it leaked water in the new position (I haven't tried with the new, doing that now but it can take days for anything to appear). With the new fridge there is 1.5' gap on both sides, with no old one no gaps. There was considerably ice build up in the old freezer, not the new one. The drain pan was always empty with the fridge. And yes checked the drain tube is indeed going to pan. With the fridge the drain isn't as easy to access.
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hierophant wrote: No not every day - there was only a tiny pool of water after not having checked for almost 4 weeks. I did pull out the old fridge and it leaked water in the new position (I haven't tried with the new, doing that now but it can take days for anything to appear). With the new fridge there is 1.5' gap on both sides, with no old one no gaps. There was considerably ice build up in the old freezer, not the new one. The drain pan was always empty with the fridge. And yes checked the drain tube is indeed going to pan. With the fridge the drain isn't as easy to access.
Definitely a mystery leak then!

I'd leave the waterline disconnected and maybe put the end in a cup or something just to see if anything appears there. I know you said it is turned off, but maybe the valve is failing upstream. I'd like to say the new fridge isn't the culprit, but these days these things are built like crap so who knows. We have a newer fridge as well that has problems with icing up (wish I realized it was a known problem with Samsung before we bought it).

Check the seal on the fridge doors just to be sure. Just take a small piece of paper and close the door on it. The seal should be able to hold the paper in place. Also, when you close the doors, you shouldn't hear any air leaking around the seals. I assume there is no water inside the fridge/freezer at the bottom? People aren't spilling a water jug or something as they put it in the fridge? I know you probably checked everything multiple times, but just putting it out there.
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don242 wrote: Definitely a mystery leak then!

I'd leave the waterline disconnected and maybe put the end in a cup or something just to see if anything appears there. I know you said it is turned off, but maybe the valve is failing upstream. I'd like to say the new fridge isn't the culprit, but these days these things are built like crap so who knows. We have a newer fridge as well that has problems with icing up (wish I realized it was a known problem with Samsung before we bought it).

Check the seal on the fridge doors just to be sure. Just take a small piece of paper and close the door on it. The seal should be able to hold the paper in place. Also, when you close the doors, you shouldn't hear any air leaking around the seals. I assume there is no water inside the fridge/freezer at the bottom? People aren't spilling a water jug or something as they put it in the fridge? I know you probably checked everything multiple times, but just putting it out there.
Haha no I appreciate it, thanks! I'm the only one in the house so hopefully I'm not doing anything like that in my sleep hahaha.
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Just as an update - I was out of the country for the entire month of March. During that that time I had shut-off the main water line and lowered the heat. When I came back, I checked under the fridge and there was still water. So this pretty much confirms that it has to be condensation - but I don't understand why. What could be causing the condensation especially with the heath lowered? Could it be the type of flooring causing the condensation?

Just as a reminder in response to this leak, I bought a new fridge and replaced the water line to the fridge and had a professional HVAC person who does commercial work come twice and he couldn't find anything.

Because of this, I have to replace laminate flooring that's there now because of the water damage and want avoid any potential mold issues. Would luxury vinyl flooring be a good option since I cannot resolve the leak?
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Is the new fridge still under warranty? I'd be after a replacement or repair if it is the cause.

I wouldn't replace flooring until the leak is resolved. Luxury vinyl is only good against water if you get the rolled vinyl. If you get the boards, you still have seams for water to go through.
[OP]
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don242 wrote: Is the new fridge still under warranty? I'd be after a replacement or repair if it is the cause.

I wouldn't replace flooring until the leak is resolved. Luxury vinyl is only good against water if you get the rolled vinyl. If you get the boards, you still have seams for water to go through.
As I mentioned previously, the leak was happening with the old fridge, which is why I bought the new fridge so I'm not inclined to believe the fridge is the cause. But since I'm at a loss as to how to solve the issue I think I will call Home Depot since it should still be under warranty...I'll just omit the part about it happening with the old fridge so they will help me troubleshoot.
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A dirty fix while trying to solve the mystery might be to buy a tiny fan and place behind the fridge. Also buy a small timer and set the fan to run perhaps 30 minutes twice a day. If nothing else this will settle your mind about the floor becoming damaged. Economic temporary fix?
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hierophant wrote: As I mentioned previously, the leak was happening with the old fridge, which is why I bought the new fridge so I'm not inclined to believe the fridge is the cause. But since I'm at a loss as to how to solve the issue I think I will call Home Depot since it should still be under warranty...I'll just omit the part about it happening with the old fridge so they will help me troubleshoot.
I know it would seem an odd circumstance, but I wouldn't rule out a new fridge leaking. Fridges these days are crap.
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What if you moved the fridge to another location temporarily? You'd be able to tell that it's the fridge/copper line if the leak follows.

Even a few feet should be sufficient.

Because right now you're assuming that the leak is from the fridge (both).
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don242 wrote: I know it would seem an odd circumstance, but I wouldn't rule out a new fridge leaking. Fridges these days are crap.
True. I called Home Depot - a tech will be coming out. Maybe they can figure it out.
enwhyRFD wrote: What if you moved the fridge to another location temporarily? You'd be able to tell that it's the fridge/copper line if the leak follows.

Even a few feet should be sufficient.

Because right now you're assuming that the leak is from the fridge (both).
I did this with the old fridge and leak followed but haven't tried with the new one, maybe I will.

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