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.
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.
This is what the grommet looks like with bits of junk and gummed up gunk 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.
If you are fixing these some other way, I would love to hear about it … always looking for new ways to do repairs!
EDIT: Since I made this post, Whirlpool has come out with a ‘official’ repair for this problem. It involves a new ‘p-trap’ which replaces the ‘duck-bill’ grommet that was getting full of junk and sticking together. Even with this p-trap repair being available, if you want to do the repair yourself and don’t want to pay a Whirlpool certified repairman, the above repair works just as well. I’ve never had a callback on this repair, and I’ve done it dozens of times, so you can have confidence with it. That being said, here is the info on the repair kit from Whirlpool:
My understanding is that the part will be provided at no cost for up to 2 years from the date of purchase. Visit Whirlpool.com for more information.
Edit … Part Deux!!
Here is a video of how to install the new drain tube. It’s pretty easy – should only be about a 15 minute job. Don’t forget to clear the ice out of drain at the back bottom of the freezer section … otherwise the water will continue to leak even after you’ve completed the repair (either the ‘snip’ or the drain tube install.)
Edit … Part 3 The Final Chapter! (Maybe. lol.)
Here is a quick cautionary video showing how easy it is break the drain pan. Don’t crack it = you will NOT like that repair if you have to replace it. (Glue does not work!) You want to work out the old trough by pushing on the tab, not just bending it or ripping it out.