July 26, 2005
Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Wet Refrigerator

In yesterday's post, I alluded to the fact that my refrigerator is acting in a way I've never seen a refrigerator behave. Since we moved in in May, I've noticed varying levels of water and ice in the main compartment.

Let me describe the interior of the fridge to you. There are four levels not including the drawers. The top level holds milk, etc... The second level has a drawer underneath it that is intended for use for lunch meats, etc... We, being vegetarian, use this drawer almost exclusively for cheeses. Next down is another shelf and then the bottom shelf, under which are two big fruit/vegetable drawers. Under those is the bottom of the fridge with a shallow well for water collection.

But that's not the only place we find water in this fridge. On top of any container on the top shelf, particularly in the center, a pool of water will form, or if I've turned the fridge up all the way (in one of my attempts to figure out where the water is coming from) ice disks form on top of my tupperware.

I've taken to putting a cooling rack in the bottom of the meat/cheese drawer because puddles of water form there as well.

Let me make sure this is clear - I'm not talking about a couple of tablespoons of water. I'm talking about pouring out a cup to two cups of water from this small drawer every two weeks.

The vegetable drawers also get hit pretty hard with water. I've taken to keeping everything in plastic bags which is not good for most vegetables longevity.

The refrigerator is a Whirlpool, but we can't figure out which model. The freezer is above it and performs perfectly - no frost, no problems. The back of the refrigerator is sealed (the first I've ever seen like this - flat steel on the back) and the coils are not exposed. There is also no way we've found to easily get under the refrigerator to check it out. The refrigerator does not have an ice maker and is not hooked up to a water line.

Inside the main compartment near the back, I see two small holes where I suspect most of the water originates.

Anyone ever run into this? What the heck is going on?

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at July 26, 2005 7:00 AM | TrackBack Print-friendly version

Hm. That is a poser. I've seen water in my fridge but it's only when I'm defrosting and somehow the water drips down from the freezer. Have you completely ruled this out? Can you turn off the freezer part while leaving the fridge on?

Of course then your Donvier ice cream maker would not be ready for you to throw cream and goodies into it at the drop of a hat. But it might be worth investigating.

Here in Paris, one of the bigger sellers of appliances (Darty) has a great after sales repair service and they will come out and look at your machine regardless of where you bought it. Is there anything like that in Chicago?

Which reminds me - wasn't there a Maytag series of ads in the 70s about the lonely repairman? Maybe you should have gone with them! ; )

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 26, 2005 at 11:30 AM

You forget, Meg, that I am not of the landed gentry and don't own the fridge. It came with the apartment. I want to make sure we haven't done anything wrong or that it's not just a question of us blocking a vent or abusing it in some way before I get my landlord on the case.

Posted by barrett on July 26, 2005 at 12:01 PM

Refrigerators work by condensation--it is possible that something has gone awry with your condenser coil setup.

It is possible that your coils are not in the back--which is weird--but instead are on the bottom of the fridge--that is where they sometimes were in older models. Check to see if you need to clean out -under- the fridge--there may be a vent there that is the air intake for the condenser coils. Some models have a vent down there and if it gets clogged with dust bunnies, cathair or whatever, it can cause issues.

Other than that--I dunno.

Posted by Barbara on July 26, 2005 at 3:43 PM

Try getting a thin piece of wire and poking it through the holes in the back. Sometimes these can get clogged up and will stop water escaping. It should solve your problem!

Posted by Bri on July 27, 2005 at 1:25 AM

Check the freezer's drain tube; if it's clogged or frozen over, water from melting ice in the freezer would drain down into the fridge instead.

Posted by Sweth on July 27, 2005 at 6:51 AM

I vote for the drain tube of the freezer too. We had something similar (although not nearly the Niagara Falls that you are experiencing) a couple of years ago. It was indeed a clump of ice blocking the freezer drain.

The other thing could just be hot weather. I believe that you folks in Chicago are having a heat wave (or did yours break sometime today as well) Whenever it is insanely hot here, we have extra water draining into the little tray underneath the refrigerator.

Hope it's an easy fix!


Posted by ejm on July 27, 2005 at 5:50 PM

So where is this freezer drainage tube? I haven't found one yet and I'm not sure I know exactly where to look.

Posted by barrett on July 28, 2005 at 8:56 AM

Did you try the wire-in-the-holes trick as suggested by Bryan?

Did you follow the link in Sweth's comment?

I think the implication is that the tube is somewhere behind those holes in the back of the fridge that you mentioned.

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 28, 2005 at 10:54 AM

If your fridge is a frost free, it means the coils in the bottom of the freezer are frozen solid and the defrost cycle is trying vainly to clear the ice away. It usually drips down a channel down the middle of the top of the fridge compartment. The channel ends up in a tube at the back that heads down to the tray underneath. This tube gets clogged and the water drips into the fridge instead of being drained away.

My Penneys did the same thing. It is now dead and long gone. You can either unplug it and let it defrost on its own or call a repairman and let him take apart the freezer compartment and get down to the coils, defrost them with a hair dryer and reassemble it. It cost us about 75$ to have someone come do that.

good luck...

Posted by Peg in the PacNorWst on July 29, 2005 at 6:58 PM

Oops. I really hope that you have resolved your freezer problem already and that this is a needless answer.

When we defrost our freezer (yes, we have an old fridge that isn't self-defrosting. the freezer is on the top of the fridge) there is a small coin-shaped section at the back of the freezer (inside). This can get jammed with ice.

Also, there is a small area just at the top of the fridge (inside) there is a little drain hole. This too can be jammed with ice.


P,S. I really hope it's fixed already though. (By the way, do you know how to make this stinking hot weather stop plaguing us?)

Posted by ejm on August 4, 2005 at 11:57 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Please be sure you read and agree with our ADVERTISING POLICY before posting.