Fridge Water Line Leaking? Here’s What to Do

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: April 23, 2024

An occasional puddle under the fridge could be stray splashes from the water dispenser or a few dropped ice cubes.

But when it happens over and over, you’ve got a problem. Those ponds on the kitchen floor are sure signs that your refrigerator water supply line is leaking.

Based on our 85 years of combined experience restoring water-damaged homes in Chicago due to leaking fridge water lines, we put together this guide to help homeowners navigate the mess.

Before You Get Started

  • Ease the refrigerator away from the wall so that you have room to work.
  • Wear non-slip shoes, and make sure you’re not standing in water as you unplug it.
  • Stop the water flow by closing the refrigerator’s supply line shutoff valve.
  • Locate the leak by running your hands or a dry cloth up and down the water line.
  • If you see signs of water damage, call your insurance agent, and start the claims process.
  • Arrange for an inspection by restoration professionals, like ServiceMaster by Zaba.

How to Fix a Leaking Fridge Water Line: 5 Causes & Solutions

leaking fridge line

1. Cause: Line Inlet and Outlet Valve Components Become Loose

Over time, repeated motion loosens supply line inlet and outlet valves. Opening and closing fridge doors, moving the unit for cleaning, and fluctuating water pressure can result in leaks around the valves.

Fix: Carefully tighten the leaking valve using pliers or a small wrench. You can also disconnect the valve and wrap it with plumber’s tape before securing it back in place.

Power Tip: Include refrigerator shut-off and intake valve testing on your list of seasonal chores.

2. Cause: Ice in the Collection Bin Blocks Normal Water Line Operation

Ice buildup in the collection bin is usually due to blockage in the freezer’s ice mold. Broken or misshapen cubes interfere with the ice maker’s operation, and that creates a backup in the water supply line.

Fix: Turn off the ice maker’s fill bar, and slowly cover the ice maker tray with warm water. Clean the bin with mild dishwashing liquid, rinse well, put it back in place, and flip the fill bar into the on position.

Power Tip: Restoration pro Diana Rodriguez-Zaba advises, “Be sure to realign the ice maker fill valve and fill cup, and then check your work with a level tool.”

3. Cause: Freezer Defrost Drain Line Is Blocked by Accumulated Debris

As the freezer cycles through defrosting, excess water flows down through its drain line. When debris accumulates around the drain, clogs form and slow down the process. This causes overruns around the drain opening.

Fix: Clear the drain with a pipe cleaner or thin wire, and then flush with hot water, followed by white vinegar.

Power Tip: Clean the drain with a water and vinegar mix several times a year.

4. Cause: The Water Supply Line Becomes Clogged With Mold

The motor that keeps the fridge operating also keeps the dark space behind the refrigerator moist and warm. That combination can cause mold to grow inside the line, resulting in clogs and leaks.

Fix: Detach the top of the supply line, and flush it with a solution of water and white vinegar, followed by clear water. After reattaching the line, repeat the sequence through the line drain.

Power Tip: Keep the refrigerator water line and freezer drain clear of mold by installing a refrigerator water filter.

5. Cause: Plastic Lines Develop Tiny Cracks That Eventually Tear

As the fridge ages, its water supply line becomes weaker. General wear, water pressure, and refrigerator movements result in small cracks in the line’s plastic. A small leak can go unnoticed for days or weeks, or the line can rupture, spilling water and flooding the kitchen.

Fix: Replace the damaged length with the following steps.

  • Measure the length of line that needs replacing, and head to a home improvement center for quarter-inch plastic tubing. You’ll also need two quick push-to-connect couplings
  • Double-check your measurements, and cut the replacement line to size. Clean each end of the freshly-cut line so that you don’t get any corrosion on the line, then push each end into a coupling connector until it’s snug (you should hear a click). As you push, the connector seats the line and forms a tight seal.
  • Cut and remove the bad length of the plastic tubing. Use the same pushing technique to attach the ends of the old tubing to the coupling connectors on the replacement tubing until you hear a click.
  • Turn on the water supply line, and wait a few minutes. Watch the old and replacement supply lines for any signs of leaking, especially around the coupling connectors.
  • Check the shut-off and intake valves, make sure you’re not standing in any water, and plug in the refrigerator.

Power Tip: Keep an eye out for water under the fridge over the next several days just in case.

How to Deal With Damage From a Leaking Refrigerator Water Line

why refrigerator leaking from water line

You’ve solved the leaking refrigerator line problem, but now you need to deal with cleanup.

If the leak went unnoticed for more than 24 hours, the damage is already spreading.

Take care of it right away by following these steps.

1. Clean Up Water on the Floor – Clean up the water, and then make extra passes under the refrigerator with a dry mop. Slide newspapers under the fridge to make sure the area is dry. Repeat with the mop and newspapers until you’re sure you’ve removed all the water.

2. Start Drying the Area – Ease the refrigerator away from the wall a few inches. Set up fans on countertops adjacent to the refrigerator, as well as on the floor directly in front of it. Run them continuously for several days.

3. Make Two Important Phone Calls – Contact your insurance company to file a claim. Contact a company that specializes in water damage restoration. If you’re in the Chicago area, call ServiceMaster by Zaba for help with everything from cleanup to kitchen restoration: 773-647-1985

Do You Have Water Damage Caused by a Fridge Water Line Leak in the Chicago Area? We Can Help.


If you have second thoughts about fixing a refrigerator water line leak, we can help. Our certified technicians take care of small plumbing repairs and all types of water damage in the Chicago area.

We stop leaks, clean up messes and handle restoration work too. Just give us a call here at ServiceMaster by Zaba: 773-647-1985.

How much water can leak from a refrigerator?

It depends on the model. A refrigerator that features an ice maker, ice dispenser and water dispenser might cycle through five gallons a day. If the water line develops problems, the volume of leakage can quickly increase.

What is the best type of refrigerator water line?

A braided stainless steel water line with a copper shutoff valve should last for years. The tough materials rarely develop leaks or clogs and stay virtually mold-resistant.

How can I tell if the fridge water line is leaking?

Be on the lookout for slow water flow from the door dispenser. Buckling or warped floors under or near the refrigerator are both indicators of a long-term leak. Other signs include irregular ice production and odd-shaped cubes, dripping noises from inside the refrigerator and water pooling under vegetable crisper drawers. Moldy smells inside the fridge even after cleaning are also signs of a refrigerator water line leak.

How much does it cost to replace a refrigerator water line?

If you bring in a plumber, the cost of replacing a refrigerator water line averages between $150 and $300. Most home improvement stores sell DIY water line replacement kits for $30 to $75.