Bottom Mount Whirlpool Fridge Leaking Water

If your Maytag or Whirlpool bottom mount fridge is leaking water, it might have a blocked drain in the freezer section. The symptoms typically are periodic water on the floor in front of the fridge and a sheet of ice in the bottom of the freezer. The way the defrost system works is: every 6 to 8 hours we turn on a heating element in the freezer section to melt any frost build up on the evaporator. This water drips down into a trough and then drains via a tube to the drain pan in the bottom of the fridge where it evaporates away. When that tube gets blocked, the water backs up into the trough in the freezer eventually spilling down into the bottom of the freezer where it freezes.

There is only one way to repair this problem properly so that the problem does not come back … just defrosting the unit is not a perminment repair (just a hint to those companies that I’ve been following around these days.)

What usually happens is something gets caught in the grommet which is attached to the bottom of the drain tube. (The grommet is the soft black rubber ‘duck bill’ valve that is slipped on to the bottom of he drain tube that prevents warm air from migrating into the freezer – more on this later.) The blockage could be a gummed up spill (like milk), a pea, bits of bread crumbs or anything else that could be carried into the drain. What I’m finding a lot of is bits of insulation from the manufacturing process ending up in that grommet. This blockage holds water that begins to freeze and eventually creates a dam and complelely blocks off the drain … and then you end up with water on the floor.

Here is a picture of a big chuck of insulation that was caught in the ice that was built up in the drain trough.

Chunk of insulation in drain trough.

Here are more bits of insulation in the drain trough. These bits flow into the drain tube and are caught by the grommet eventually blocking it up.

More bits of insulation in the drain trough.

This is what the grommet looks like with bits of junk and gummed up gunk in it.

Grommet with bits of insulation trapped in it.

How to Repair

The only way to properly repair this is to clear all the ice out of the trough and drain tube. Then remove the grommet from the bottom of the drain tube (accessed from the compressor compartment), clean it out and trim it open a bit. This is the part of the repair where things might get a bit dicey. Whirlpool will NOT want this done! What the grommet does is prevent the freezer from equalizing the air pressure through the drain tube when the freezer door is shut. If the grommet is not there, then when the air pressure equalizes, it will draw warm moist air through the drain tube which coats the evaporator and can cause potential moisture issues in other areas. The trouble is: the grommet opening is just a slit and is easily restricted. This is causing multiple calls for the same issue (blocked drain causing leaks.)

So what to do?

Here is what I do. I trim the end off the grommet. This allows the water to flow out more easily and helps prevent blockages while at the same time still restricts air from free flowing into the freezer through the drain tube. I’ve gone back to a number of fridges where I’ve done this repair and rechecked the evaporator and have not found any excessive frost or moisture, so I’m confident that I’m not causing other problems by doing this. However … this is not the official repair, so do at your own risk.

Here is what the grommet looks like trimmed.

Trimmed grommet.

If you are fixing these some other way, I would love to hear about it … always looking for new ways to do repairs!

62 Responses to Bottom Mount Whirlpool Fridge Leaking Water

  1. Tony April 6, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    There is also a Whirlpool 819043 Heat Probe designed to conduct heat from the defroster heat element down into the freezer drain to prevent the drain from freezing solid. Do you think this part would be a good solution?
    Also, “SamuraiRepairMan” has some helpful videos on YouTube showing step by step how to open up the Whirlpool/Maytag bottom-mount freezer to fix the grommet and defrost the freezer drain.

    • Head Wrench April 6, 2014 at 9:33 pm #

      That probe was designed for top mount refrigerators which had a problem with the drain freezing up because of a poor design. This would not help much with bottom mount units that have the drain tube blocked by insulation or other such gunk. Again – the problem with bottom mount units is a slow drain due to blockages at the rubber grommet – the ice in the drain trough is a symptom of the real problem. The best repair is the one that I’ve outlined ….

  2. Sheila April 5, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    I wrote my previous post in the wee hours of the morning, but after a good night’s sleep I have reread the previous posts and see that you have answered my main question already, so we are going to try to do this repair only from the back of the fridge and see if it works, rather than get in to accessing the inside of the freezer compartment. In case that does not work, I guess my only remaining question is how on earth do you get the rails/drawers out? They sure don’t make it easy! I actually had called Kitchenaid not long after we got the unit when my son put a bowl of jello in the freezer to set, where it promptly spilled everywhere, including on the side wall and bottom. I asked how to get the drawers out to clean and was told you couldn’t as then it would be a hazard that a small child could climb in the freezer! How can repairmen get in there then? Is there some trick to it?

    Thank you in advance for taking the time to address issues like this – you are awesome! I think it is ironic you are giving advice on how to deal with a freezing issue when you are in southern Manitoba where you just had the coldest winter since 1898! My daughter moved to Winnipeg last fall and is ready to move back to Vancouver after the winter they had!

    • Head Wrench April 5, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

      lol – yes, global warming did not get the message here in Manitoba.

      Yep – do the snip and then a full defrost and see how it goes. I’ve heard back from a few people who have done this and it seems to be about a 50/50 shot to fix the problem. If you do need the drawer to be removed, I can help with that. Let me know …

  3. Sheila April 5, 2014 at 6:18 am #

    So glad to find this site with an answer to the problem we are having with our Kitchenaid fridge with bottom mount freezer. We have been having to break up the ice that forms in the the bottom of the freezer every few days or water leaks out, on to our hardwood floor. We are going to try your fix for sure, but I have a couple of questions – you mention the back wall of the freezer, and also the back of the fridge, so I want to clarify – do we need to both take the freezer door and drawers off and then take the panel off the back wall of the inside of the freezer AND pull the fridge out and access the rear of it? We were able to get the door off of the rails, but can not see how we can get the drawers out – they don’t seem to come off the rails, and we can’t access the interior of the freezer with them there. If I understand right, are you saying that if we defrost the freezer, we won’t have to access the inside of it, just the rear of the fridge.
    Also, I wonder if our unit is leaking water in to the freezer compartment from more than just the defrost line, as it seems to be a lot of water. Every 3 days or so the entire bottom of the freezer has a thick build-up of ice, and it seems like that much water would not have been able to evaporate (if it hadn’t turned to ice). Does that sound normal – I know there is a lot of condensation, but am surprised it would be that much.

  4. Dave C March 22, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    Some friends of mine were having this same problem with their Whirlpool. I followed your instructions & had them defrost it for 12 hours. Then I went over & did the “snip” on the grommet. That was about a month ago & I was back there today & there has been no more water leaking onto the floor or ice build up on the bottom of the freezer compartment. They are very happy with this outcome & said to say thanks to you for your info on resolving their messy issue!

  5. Melissa Javier-Barry March 18, 2014 at 3:16 am #

    Just to confirm, to complete this repair, do we need to both a.) enter from the inside of the freezer (removing the drawers and back wall) to remove the ice build up and b.) also enter from the back of the freezer to access the grommet and snip it? Our fridge is wedged in in an incredibly tight space–can we complete the repair from the front alone? If not, and we do go in from the back, can we complete the repair completely from the back without having to remove the inner drawers and back wall?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Head Wrench March 18, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

      You for sure need to get at the back to snip the grommet. Instead of removing all the freezer parts and back wall, you can try just defrosting the unit which means = unit unplugged, doors wide open for at minimum 12 hours. The ice will all melt out. If there is nothing stuck in the drain tube between the freezer and the evaporation pan, then (with the snip) you should be good to go. I always manually remove the ice and make sure the drain is completely clear both visually and with a piece of 1/4″ plastic tubing just to make sure the unit is completely repaired.

  6. Liz February 25, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    Thanks for the great info Head Wrench!

    We have a Whirlpool bottom-mount fridge in the kitchen where I work and the leaking problem had ruined/rotted the floor underneath the unit (after 3 years of the leak being ignored before I started working there).

    After repeatedly chipping the accumulated ice sheet out of the bottom of the freezer and disconnecting the ice cube maker water line (thinking that would help stop the leaking) I am glad to know what the problem really is! I also thought maybe the ice on the floor of the freezer was keeping the freezer drawer from shutting all the way and that the frozen things inside were thawing and dripping onto the floor. But No!

    Tomorrow I am going to pull out the fridge, open up the back, defrost the coil with a heat gun, clean out the drain pan and do the snip-job on the duck bill you mentioned. We have already replaced the floor (and rotten sub-floor!) under the fridge so I really don’t want the new floor to get trashed as well!

    I thought maybe this particular refrigerator model must’ve just been a piece of “S#%T” (because a sticker on the back said it was a Factory Display unit) but now I see it is possibly fixable! Yay!

    Our new floor thanks you!

    • Head Wrench February 26, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

      Glad to help!

    • John February 27, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

      This is exactly the problem I’m having with my Whirlpool refrigerator model# GZ25FSRXYY0, and it is ruining my wood floor. I don’t trust myself to do the repair, I live in westminster CO 80031 is there anyone you could recommend in this area?


      • Head Wrench March 7, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

        Sorry John – I put it out there to my contacts in the US but could not find anybody in your area. Call Whirlpool and get them to refer you to the warranty authorized servicer in your area.

  7. JoAnne February 11, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    Taking out the ice maker? Don’t see that covered. Help!

    • Head Wrench February 26, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

      Removing the icemaker is usually just 3 screws – 2 on top of the icemaker going into the sidewall and 1 on the support below. If you send me a picture of your icemaker mounted, I can walk you through it.

  8. Mike R February 5, 2014 at 2:08 am #

    Thanks for the concise instructions. I did this easy repair to my five year old Maytag MBL (Whirlpool) bottom freezer style refrigerator. Best part? It cost nothing… no parts required.

    • Head Wrench February 5, 2014 at 3:32 am #

      Yer welcome. Glad it helped!

    • Head Wrench February 26, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

      Yep – $0.00 is always a good price to pay! lol.

  9. Alan January 20, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    Thanks for the rapid reply and the suggestion. P-trap kit has been ordered!

  10. Alan January 19, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    Our Whirlpool Gold w/ bottom freezer (GB2FHDXWB01) suffers from the same frost buildup in the freezer. Additionally, the vents up to the fridge compartment get iced up, causing it to not be cool. Defrosting brings relief, but it’s needed more and more frequently. I opened the back panel to check the duck bill. We have a slide that leads down to the tray (dry), and while there is no tubing, there is a plastic exit hole at the top of the compartment, which directly above the slide. This is where the rubber duck bill attachment should be (we found pictures of it online), but the duck bill is nowhere to be found. Other than a Sears repairman a couple years back (for the sheet of ice problem you mentioned), nobody’s ever been inside the back. Any suggestions?

    • Head Wrench January 20, 2014 at 5:25 am #

      Ya – you need something there to prevent too much warm air going up into the freezer. The grommet missing is probably why you have the vents getting iced up. Order part number W10619951 from Repair Clinic. This is the official Whirlpool ‘fix’ for this problem and is a P-Trap that replaces the rubber grommets. Should solve your problem.

      P-Trap to replace Grommet

  11. Jim November 11, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    When you snip this grommet are you not creating a opening in which warm air

    can flow up into the freezer?

    • Head Wrench November 11, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

      Yes, but not enough to cause frosting issues.

    • Sal April 5, 2014 at 11:41 pm #

      Yes, Although our unit was out of warranty, Whirlpool sent us the P-trap drain tube unit no charge. I installed it from the rear. I then emptied the unit, opened the doors and thawed it for 24 hrs. I checked the pan underneath and it was full of water indicating the drain was open. Fired the unit up again and all is well.
      One web-site describes the tedious procedure to take the freezer unit apart. It is much easier to just thaw it out for 24 hrs.

      • Head Wrench April 6, 2014 at 4:10 am #

        Defrosting works as long as there is nothing else in the drain tray or tube. If there are bits of insulation or other gunk in the tube, then the water will come back and the unit will require a full flush out from the inside out.

      • Richard April 21, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

        Hi there,
        Our Whirlpool refrigerator was purchased by Condo builder for 3 yeasrs and now we had water leaking porblem too. I called Whirlpool customer service and the lady said the warranty only has one year and they can not provide P-trap drain tube for free.
        would you please advise how you get the part from Whirlpool for free?
        Thanks for your time and help!

      • Head Wrench April 21, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

        I do not know of a way of making Whirlpool give it to you for free. Sorry.

  12. Etana Finkler November 9, 2013 at 12:26 am #

    We have the Maytag #MBL2258 XESL, bottom mount fridge with the blocked drain in the freezer section. We have a Home Depot service contract. We had 4 different repairmen “fix” clean out the blocked drain within the first year of owning it. Finally the 5th time, another repairman removed the duck bill grommet.

    Reading above, you explain that removing it can cause other problems:
    “If the grommet is not there, then when the air pressure equalizes, it will draw warm moist air through the drain tube which coats the evaporator and can cause potential moisture issues in other areas.”

    Now that the grommet was removed, we don’t have ice/water leaks, so I am not sure what exactly to tell the insurance company/repair people, because it sounds like removing the grommet was not a solution, yet we don’t have a current leak.

    Do you have a suggestion about what to do now that the grommet is removed (we have it), or what to tell the insurance company to repair it correctly? I cannot put the grommet back myself.

    • Head Wrench November 9, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

      I would not leave it with the grommet completely removed. What you could/should do is contact the insurance company and tell them that Whirlpool (Maytag) has created a permanent solution to this problem and give them this information: Reference Whirlpool instruction sheet W106199972 Rev A, 6/2013. That is the instruction on how to replace the grommet with a p-trap style drain. I don’t use those as the ‘snip’ has been 100% successful for me, but that would be the official repair.

  13. Karen November 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    What Bernie said above. Thanks.

    Had a similar situation in an older refrigerator 15 years ago, so was easy to guess this was the same problem/solution.

  14. Bernie November 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    I cleaned debris from the nipple and did a complete defrost for 12 hours, like you suggested, and today the fridge is working like new. Much thanks for your immense help!

  15. Graham October 29, 2013 at 3:37 am #

    Worked like a charm – thanks!

  16. Bernie October 27, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    I have the Kenmore bottom mount (# 596.6928) with the same thawing/leaking problem. I was completely unable to remove the top sliding drawer so worked with a hair dryer on the two rear wall vents. A good bit of water melted out but a few days later there is more ice on the fridge bottom. Would like to try your snip option but can’t get that top drawer out of the railings. Also, do I need to remove the outside back panel to complete the repair? Thank you.

    • Head Wrench October 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

      Yes – the back panel has to come off. That is where you find the black rubber flapper that you have to snip. Then, if you can’t figure out how to get the drawer out, the best way to clear the ice from the drain trough and tube would be to just defrost the whole thing. This means unplugging it and leaving the doors wide open for a good 12 hours. That will clear the ice out.

  17. Sally October 19, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    Is this problem fixed via the inside of the freezer or from the back of the unit? I am willing to try to fix myself but hesitate if I have to start taking the freezer apart.

    • Head Wrench October 21, 2013 at 3:16 am #

      The rubber ‘snip’ is done from the back. You can try just defrosting the fridge to get the ice out of the trough under the evaporator – if nothing is physically blocking it, then that should be enough (along with ‘the snip.’) If something is in the trough blocking the tube (like a piece of insulation) then the problem will come back. The key is cutting the rubber piece though. Good luck.

  18. Andrew October 14, 2013 at 2:01 am #

    Whirlpool has created a permanent fix to the “duck-bill” clog problem.

    They have a kit which replaces the “duck-bill” and slanted “trough funnel” with a “drain spacer” and a “p-trap” which functions exactly as a sink s-trap; i.e., it prevents warm air from backing up into the freezer space by maintaining water in the bottom bend of the p-trap. This eliminates the easily-plugged constriction of the duck-bill (which can be clogged up with either trash and sticky stuff).

    Reference Whirlpool instruction sheet W106199972 Rev A, 6/2013.

    Andy in Nashville, TN

    • Head Wrench October 14, 2013 at 2:44 am #

      Yep – now we get to unplug p-traps … it will just take a bit longer. lol. I’ve done a couple with the p-trap – don’t see any advantage to using it instead of the ‘snip’ plus the ‘repair’ costs my customers more money. I’m giving customers the option at this point until somebody can show me the p-trap is a better repair. I’ve never (knock on wood) had a callback on a snip I’ve done – so I know that repair works.

  19. Leonard October 1, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    I’ve had this problem for weeks. After reading your remedy, which was pretty easy, I’m confident that this will solve the problem.

  20. Kelly September 30, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    I have a two year old Maytag that has this problem. Is it worth repairing? Is this a common problem with all bottom freezer units?

    • Head Wrench October 1, 2013 at 3:53 am #

      Yes – it is worth repair. Blocked drains are common to every fridge since we developed frost-free fridges.

  21. ladymithril September 5, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    Does this also happen to whirlpool gold single door fridges with bottom mount freezers?

    • Head Wrench September 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

      Blocked drains have happened to pretty much every fridge since we came out with frost-free fridges. It certainly can (and does) happen on single door bottom mounts.

  22. Chuck September 4, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    Does any one else have any pics to post? Do you need to access the coils and drain pan from the inside of the freezer or pull the fridge out and get to it through the back? Do you think the temp the fridge/freezer are at makes a difference ( if its super cold it won’t defrost completely and more ice builds up?

    • Head Wrench September 5, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

      Yes – you access the evaporator from inside the freezer = behind the back wall. Temps have nothing to do with this. It is either because the drain is blocked by junk or it ices up because of a slow drain. Either situation is fixed by the repair described here.

  23. DCM September 1, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    We are about to purchase a Sears-sold Whirlpool 25 Cu Ft (Sears part 4602139). All the reviews I read show this problem is common on that model. But we have had a very poor experience with a 4 year old LG for which parts were nearly impossible to obtain and Sears has not successfully repaired in now 3 attempts and 8 weeks trying… (so they gave us $1800 credit as we had a 4 year warranty not yet expired). So, was thinking Whirlpool next best thing… parts are available etc.

    Does anyone know if this design issue has been fixed, or will the fridge we are purchasing have this same “duck bill” boot and should we just cut it immediately upon install? Will it void our warranty though if we do?


    • Head Wrench September 3, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

      This problem hits maybe 2% of the French Door Whirlpool fridges. I wouldn’t bother trying to ‘fix’ something that is not broken yet. If you end up with this problem, you know what to do.

  24. VIRGINIA GORDON August 30, 2013 at 2:02 am #

    Not knowing the configuration of the duck bill, is it possible to put some sort of screen over it to prevent whatever from going down there?

    Thank you for your time in providing so informative a site for us mere consumers

  25. David - Kailua July 31, 2013 at 12:11 am #

    We had a similar problem in February – the Sears repairman came, heated up/melted the ice and ran a wire down the drain tube. All was fine for five months, then the problem began again.

    Another Sears repairman arrived this morning -this time I observed and took a few photos. Once he melted the ice and cleaned the area, he removed the back panel, removed the real problem -the duck bill valve – and cleaned it. He cut a slit in it before reinstalling it. He says he has never had to return for a similar problem since he began slitting the duck bill valves. Looks like you have the answer – I can now handle this myself if I have a repeat problem rather than waiting a few weeks for the maintenance contract repair person to arrive.

  26. JC April 28, 2013 at 12:49 am #

    it’s been 2 – 3 weeks now and no leaks thanks to you …hair dryer and an air compressor to make sure drain tube is clear …cheers !

  27. Tom April 25, 2013 at 1:09 am #

    = Strathy = Thanks for replying! Since I have no water line/ice maker, it looks like my problem may be a cracked drain pan – but I can’t think of why it would be cracked.

    However … when I first removed the back panel of this Kenmore (#596-6997-2011) I took several photos and noticed that the drain pan had some aluminum tape on one side (to the right when viewed from the back). This is visible in the two JPG pictures linked below (just add http:// to the beginning) The PNG image is the exploded parts list showing the drain pan as #8.

    This is the way it came from the factory, but I can’t imagine what purpose the aluminum tape has – unless it is a poor “factory Quality Assurance” fix for a cracked drain pan. What do you think? Have you ever seen aluminum tape used like this?

    • Head Wrench April 25, 2013 at 1:37 am #

      Hey Tom,

      The tape there is normal – I’ve seen it many times before. Not exactly sure of the purpose of it though … lol. Check out this image: There is residue outside of the drain pan that should not be there and indicates that water has been pooling there. This would lead me to believe that the evaporation pan is cracked or leaking somehow. Look real close at that pan and see what you can find.

  28. Tom April 22, 2013 at 2:50 am #

    Just 2 days later and … not a good result – another pool of water found trickling from under the fridge this morning. I had opened the slot in the duckbill grommet to about twice the original size after thoroughly cleaning it. Also had verified that the drain tube was clear by running a long pipe cleaner through it – totally clean
    So the cause must be from some other reason. If the drain tube is blocked, I expect that it’s simply icing up – but have no clue as to why it is doing so. I’ll have to open up the cooling coil compartment again, this time with the unit still running. Last time there was probably time enough for any ice blockage to melt. I had nowhere near the ice that’s in the pictures on this blog post.

    • Head Wrench April 22, 2013 at 3:00 am #

      On this type of problem, the water usually cones out from the freezer door – not from under the unit. You will also find a flat slab of ice in the drain trough because of the blocked drain. In your case I would be looking for a cracked drain pan or a leaking water line.

  29. Tom April 19, 2013 at 3:04 am #

    We thought we had this problem fixed in mid-March on our now 18-month-old Kenmore #596.6997.2011. Cleaned out the duckbill of some food particles from the freezer and the stickiness of whatever they use at the factory but found a puddle on the floor again this week. Finding your idea to clip the duckbill we’ve tried the same and totally cleaned the part with alcohol. Will continue to monitor. (happy to send pics of the original and modified part)

  30. hillsmom February 1, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    The appliance repair man just left. I printed out your instructions about the grommet “duck bill” repair, as that was just the exact problem! He said he wasn’t familiar with the term “duck bill” but the picture was it. He said it was quite sticky, too.

    I can’t thank you enough for this excellent information. He did a great job getting all the ice out front and back. Cheers…

  31. Head Wrench January 27, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    Yer welcome! Glad the information was a help to you!

  32. Greg Weeks January 27, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    Strathy: This was an excellent description of how to not only solve but “fix” this problem – the pictures really helped! In my case I have a Kenmore 596.6928 bottom mount (likely identical to the Whirlpool model above). One additional step that is important to follow is to fully melt all of the ice build up in and around the coils on the inside of the freezer (behind the rear wall). THANK-YOU VERY MUCH!

  33. terry o'malley November 13, 2012 at 2:35 am #

    i have run into this problem many times and have been doing the same thing you have suggested and never had a problem .

    a repairman for 40 years

  34. Steve Peters June 26, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Thanks – my Whirlpool is newer and now has rubber end on the drain line, it was ver sticky and would not open. I pulled it off and cleaned it so far so good. Thanks for ;eading me to narrow down the problem and know where to look.

    • George Dohrman March 8, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

      Made modification on whirlpool side+side bottom mount using P-trap on condensation drain tube, after doing full defrost. Very soon after water showed up back on bottom of freezer? Checked condensation drain tube frozen again! Is there a need to “prime” P-trap(pre- create seal?)

      • Head Wrench March 21, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

        No … no priming needed. If the water is still on the bottom of the freezer, then the drain hole is still blocked. I would remove everything in the freezer, remove the back wall and make sure nothing is stuck in the drain hole. I would run a piece of 1/4″ plastic hose (or something else like that) down the hole to make sure it is clear right to the back … then reinstall the p-trap and put more water down the drain hole to make sure it can flow through the p-trap into the evaporation pan. If that is all clear – then it should be fine.

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