Fridge Water Line Leaking? Here’s What to Do

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 20, 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 ice maker water line is leaking.

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

How to Fix a Leaking Refrigerator Water Line

leaking fridge line

1. Assess the Problem

Pull the refrigerator away from the wall, make sure you’re not standing in water, and unplug it so that you can work safely.

Always keep the refrigerator unplugged while you’re working. Inspect the plastic supply line on the back of the refrigerator and tighten the connection if it looks loose. 

If you don’t see any tears, breaks, or loose connections, use your hands to locate pinhole leaks in the refrigerator water line.

Make sure that you’ve turned off the refrigerator’s main water supply before you begin working on the water line. 

Power Tip: Move the refrigerator slowly so that you don’t disconnect the line from the shut-off or inlet valve.

2. Measure and Shop

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 coupling “sharkbite-style” connectors.

Power Tip: You can buy a replacement kit that includes tubing and connectors, but make sure you’re picking up the right line length for your project.

3. Assemble the Line and Connectors

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.

Power Tip: If you need to disconnect the line, push in on the connector to release the line before pulling it back out.

4. Attach the New Line

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. 

Take a look at the refrigerator water shut-off and intake valves to make sure your work hasn’t loosened those connections.

5. Turn On the Water

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 one last time, 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.

Why Is My Refrigerator Leaking Water From the Water Line?

why-refrigerator-leaking-from-water-line

These are the most common causes of leaking fridge water lines. 

  • The water line becomes clogged with mold or debris.
  • Plastic lines develop tiny cracks that eventually tear.
  • Moving the refrigerator while cleaning around it kinks the line.
  • Line inlet and outlet valve components become loose.
  • Ice in the collection bin blocks normal water line operation.
  • The freezer defrost drain line is blocked by stored food items.
  • As a refrigerator ages, it settles and strains valve connections.

What Are the Signs of a Leaking Water Line?

A pool of water spreading out from underneath the fridge is a sure sign of water line problems. 

However, that puddle isn’t the only clue. These are less obvious signs of a leaking refrigerator water line.

  • Slow water flow from the door dispenser
  • Buckling or warped floors under or near the refrigerator – this indicates a long-term leak
  • Irregular ice production and odd-shaped cubes
  • Dripping noises from inside the refrigerator
  • Water pooling under vegetable crisper drawers
  • Moldy smells inside the fridge even after cleaning

How to Deal With Damage From a Leaking Water Line

how-to-deal-with-damage-from-a-leaking-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. After cleaning up the water, 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. Carefully ease the refrigerator away from the wall a few inches. Set up several fans on countertops adjacent to the refrigerator, as well as on the floor directly in front of it. Let them run for continuously for several days.
  3. If you have a warranty on your refrigerator, contact the manufacturer for repairs. This is especially important with new refrigerators (especially those with lots of new technology), which tend to malfunction frequently. 
  4. If there’s water damage present, contact your insurance company to file a claim.
  5. 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

How to Prevent Water Line Leaks

A pinhole leak in the refrigerator water line slowly soaks drywall, warps baseboards and even damages the subfloor. 

These tips can help minimize the chances of dealing with a flooded kitchen and water damage cleanup.

  • Keep the refrigerator water line and freezer drain clear of mold and debris.
  • Leaving a little clearance room behind the fridge helps prevent line kinks.
  • Don’t let items in the freezer stack up over the line drain.
  • Become familiar with how to operate the refrigerator water line shut-off valve
  • Include refrigerator shut-off and intake valve testing on your list of seasonal chores.
  • Make refrigerator water line inspection a part of your spring and fall home maintenance routines.
  • Invest in a small leak detector, and keep it on the floor underneath the refrigerator.

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 to test to see if fridge water line is leaking

To test your fridge water line for leaks, pull the refrigerator out from the wall and inspect the lines carefully. If you can’t visually spot leaks, try placing newspaper underneath the suspect line and the places it connects to the refrigerator. This will help you identify if the leak is coming from the supply line or from a connection between a valve and your refrigerator.

What causes an ice maker to leak?

If the leak isn’t in the water line, check the ice maker’s fill cup. Make sure it’s aligned correctly. The ice maker can leak if it isn’t secured in a level position. The problem could also be a corroded inlet switch or faulty inlet valve.

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 test to see if the fridge water line is leaking?

Ease the refrigerator away from the wall so that you can access the water line. Run your fingers up and down the line. If it’s leaking, you’ll feel the moisture. You can also slip newspapers under the bottom of the fridge or under the crisper drawers and check them for signs of puddling water.

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.