What’s that sound? It’s subtle, but the fridge is definitely dripping. You look everywhere for water, but there’s no leak. So, should you be freaking out? Is the fridge broken? Chill out, I have answers. I used to live near a plant that made refrigerators. Luckily, my neighbors taught me more about how the various models work than most people will ever need to know.
Why does my fridge make a dripping noise? Your fridge is making a dripping noise because the drain tube is removing condensed water. Normally it drips into a non-removable pan under the condenser. Once there heat will evaporate that water quickly.
Water in Your Fridge
When you hear dripping come from the fridge, your first thought might be that a jar inside broke. Maybe something tipped over. It’s always worth checking. After all, accidents do happen.
Especially if there’s a puddle at the bottom, then your drip is not normal. No part of the inside of your fridge should collect water. Plus, there’s no reason for water to collect below or outside the fridge.
Once you’ve ruled that out, you need to check other liquid sources inside the fridge. For example, older models may have a buildup of ice in the freezer. If you leave the door cracked by accident after getting your ice cream, that frost layer will melt.
Possible Sources of Dripping
If you can see a tube on the back of your refrigerator, and hear water inside it, that’s the drainage tube. Luckily, there’s no reason to worry about that drip. However, any other dripping is abnormal.
Unfortunately, there are so many possible sources of liquid in a fridge it can be hard to pinpoint. Check all the following sources to narrow it down.
Boomers and GenXers will remember defrosting their freezers. It was a wet mess and a total pain. You had to take out all the frozen goods, and leave the freezer door open. Sometimes we even turned the fridge off.
Chipping away at ice layers was an option. However, you ran the risk of punching through the plastic lining on your fridge. In short, it wasn’t worth it to go ape. Instead of a faster defrost, you might lose a fridge, or at least the freezer.
Most modern fridges don’t need defrosting. Still, if you have a much older model, it could be ice from the freezer dripping. Additionally, if your freezer is collecting a layer of ice, and you have a newer model fridge it’s bad news.
An iced-over freezer is a surefire sign that something isn’t working right. Typically that water would get carried away by the internal mechanisms.
Condensation dripping off your refrigerator can have several possible causes. Sometimes opening and closing too often when the temperature is set too low is the culprit.
In that case, set the temp higher. Also, try to get what you need in a single trip. As long as that’s the cause, it should stop. However, there are other sources.
Condensation on the back of your refrigerator might mean your water disposal pipe is cracked or broken. This is dangerous and needs immediate attention.
Damaged and worn seals around the door can cause condensation. Moreover, it also pushes your electric bill up higher. As a result of lost cold, your fridge is working harder all the time.
Replacing a door seal is one of the simplest repairs around, especially for LG refrigerators. You simply take the old, broken rubber off and replace it with an LG Electronics 4987JJ2002R Refrigerator Door Gasket Assembly from Amazon. Check your manual to make sure you’re getting the right model. You can check the reviews on these simple parts here.
Refrigerators with a water faucet in the door can collect moisture. In addition to problems with dripping, and condensation, the tray fills up. Resultantly, some overflow could be the source of your drip.
However, if the line to your water and ice dispenser is the issue I recommend the 2182106 Replacement Dual Water Valve Kit for most models. It comes with simple to understand instructions. Plus this kit is compatible with over half a dozen brands of fridges. To pick one up from Amazon, click here.
Ice is made from water. If your included ice dispenser isn’t running properly, there may be extra condensation. this can happen inside the freezer or outside.
Similarly, cold water dripping from ice chutes may cause some condensation. A little from leftover ice particles is nothing to worry about. However, if it’s constant, you may need repairs.
Cold Fridge Condensation
As odd as it may sound, a fridge that gets too cold can also have condensation issues and drips. When you store a refrigerator outdoors in winter, or somewhere like an unheated basement or garage, it can get so cold it collects condensation.
This is from the heated gas and condenser doing their jobs. Luckily, the resolution is easy. Your fridge needs a little heat. A small space heater or a new location should stop the condensation and drip right away.
Normal Condensation happens when the weather is especially moist. There’s nothing to worry about on a hot humid day. So long as the moisture isn’t running off your fridge it should be fine.
Additionally, some energy-saving features can cause condensation outside a fridge. When this happens, simply turn off the energy saver if possible. That should resolve the issue promptly.
Remember to wipe away the excess. Doing this gives you an idea of whether it’s a normal collection or something causing abnormal levels.
How Fridges Work
Your refrigerator drip is probably a part of the normal function in your fridge. Since it’s essentially an insulated, cooled box, it’s natural for some condensation to occur. Normally this evaporates or is carried away by your drainage pipe.
The drainage leads to a collection pan under the body. So that pan is below the compressor for practical reasons. A compressor runs and heats up. As a result, that heat gets rid of excess moisture through evaporation.
Five Parts of Your Fridge
“There are five basic components: fluid refrigerant; a compressor, which controls the flow of refrigerant; the condenser coils (on the outside of the fridge); the evaporator coils (on the inside of the fridge); and something called an expansion device.” – From Real Simple
The fluid refrigerant is pretty much what it sounds like. This condensed substance used to be freon. However these days fridges mostly use HFC-134a.
The effect of the HFC-134a is similar to the original. However, unlike freon, it doesn’t deplete the ozone. The result is healthier cold food that doesn’t cost you the air you breathe. Plus, you don’t need to worry about freon leaks.
Like the liquid refrigerant, a compressor has a descriptive name. Naturally, this part literally compresses the coolant. This heats it to gas and pushes it into the outside coils.
Restricting the flow and forcing it into the coils is how your fridge stays the right temperature. Without a compressor, the liquid wouldn’t become a hot gas. Moreover, it probably wouldn’t reach the top of your fridge. Thanks to the compressor, your ‘cooling’ gets where it needs to be.
Once pressurized, the hot refrigerant flows up the condenser coils. The cooler air outside your fridge causes this gas to coalesce. In short, it turns it back into a cool liquid as it travels. Inner coils carry the cooled liquid throughout the fridge, bringing cold where it’s needed.
The pressurized liquid does a heat exchange inside your fridge again. The refrigerant liquid absorbs heat there, which causes it to cool. The newly cooled liquid runs down a set of coils, flowing smoothly back into the compressor to make its next trip.
Blowing high pressured liquid into a compressor could be problematic. The expansion device controls the flow. It’s similar to a cars’ throttle.
Thus, the slowed-down coolant liquid doesn’t overfill the condenser or damage it. Once the slowed liquid coolant reaches the compressor, the whole cycle begins again.
Fixing a Problem Drip Pan
If the pan isn’t catching water, or it’s overflowing then your drip is a leak. Unfortunately, this needs immediate attention. However, the good news is that it may be a very simple fix.
- Leveling- Refrigerators are built to sit level. When water drips from your condensation pan, there might be a tilted fridge to blame. Grab a level and check it out. With luck, you can level the fridge by adjusting the legs, or move it to resolve the issue.
- Clogged Drain- If the opening that lets water out into the pan is clogged it can cause a backup and drips. You can turn the fridge off and clear the blockage manually. Soapy warm water and a pipe cleaner are often enough to do the job.
- Cracked Pan- When the pan designed to catch drips is cracked, it will leak. Whether this is from moving it badly, or some other damage, you need a professional to replace the pan.
- Bad Installation- Less common, but still possible is a badly installed drip pan. If your brand new fridge is dripping beneath, this might be the source. In that case, your warranty probably covers the damage.
Semi-Pro Drain Pan Replacers
If you have the knowledge and skill, replacing a drain pan isn’t that complicated. The worst part is arguably unloading and restocking the fridge to do the job. You can get new drain pans easily.
For example, replacing a Whirlpool W10614158 Refrigerator Drain Pan is a quick simple fix. The parts are easy to come by and this pan is compatible with a slew of different models. Most tool savvy people can save themselves a lot of trouble if they order one from Amazon by clicking here.
Other Drip Fixes
Happily, most leaks are simple things. However, there are times when you burst a coil or have a coolant leak. Although some people have the skills to repair these issues, it’s a bad idea for the novice.
Unless you have experience building and repairing refrigerators, it’s better to leave major issues to the professionals. You can hurt yourself or make the problem worse with too little information and too much gusto for DIY solutions.
A refrigerator isn’t rocket science, but it is a complex machine. If your drip isn’t simple, know when to call a pro. It’s not worth the hospital bill or having to buy a whole new fridge.
The sound of dripping from your fridge should always be quiet. If the noise is loud enough to drown out conversation, then its a problem. In that case, it may not even be your fridge dripping.
Similarly, you should never see dripping water from the fridge pool anywhere. All the water should go to the pan for evaporation. Anything else is a bad sign.
Most of the time, that soft drip-drip is perfectly normal. Noticing it for the first time is alarming, but it’s part of the regular refrigerator operation.