(I don't expect any replys to this post --just writing this for DIY
I thought I'd share my adventure today with a Whirlpool fridge that's
been dripping water inside the main compartment for quite a while.
Sometimes the water would pool on top of various containers and turn
to ice. I don't have the model handy but would guess this is probably
a fairly generic problem. It's a 2004 model.
Earlier I got temporary relief by the very inconvenient process of
emptying the fridge, unplugging it, letting it thaw out for a day,
draining out all the water, plugging it back in and restoring the food
to it. I did this in the winter since I could put the food in our cold
garage to minimize spoilage.
Today I wanted to get more to the bottom of the problem. I first
looked at the owners manual which provided some really 6th-grade info
but one useful thing it did suggest was to vacuum the condenser coils
near the bottom. We have a cat and the coils were loaded with hair.
The owner's manual talks as if this were an easy job but one can only
really access the first "fold" of these coils. They zig and zag back
about 18". You will have no luck tipping the fridge back to get access
underneath because there is a (mostly) solid piece of sheet metal
I called the Whirlpool number in the manual thinking I could ask how
to get the bottom sheet off and access the coils, and more about what
really might be wrong. They were of little help. They will basically
just read you parts of the owners manual you have just read. They have
no "tech support". Rather, their function is to determine your
warranty status and then connect you with the closest appliance
service center. But if you think you can get do-it-yourself advice
from one of these places you have another thing coming. I can't
Anyway I ended up running an air hose into the house and blasting the
coils out with my compressor at 140 psi. It was fun and worked well!
It scared the hell out of the cat.
A second thing I wanted to investigate was ice build-up near the back
ceiling of the main compartment where there are some air ducts linking
both the freezer and main compartment. There is a styrofoam-lined duct
piece that looked like it could be removed but the tabs holding it in
place were way too thick to pry aside. The secret was to pull a bit on
the outer skin of the duct. An old-fashion electronics chip puller
worked great for this. You need a flat strip of metal with a very
shallow right angle hook at the end. After that, I took my heat gun
and melted all of the ice around the area (taking great care not to
apply too much heat which can easily melt or warp the surrounding
Then I wanted to investigate the other side of the vents in the
freezer side. In fact, after I got the food out I could see that this
area was completely sealed by ice --right where it looks like there
was a designed gap for air
flow. FIRST MAKE SURE THE POWER IS DISCONNECTED IF NOT ALREADY, JUST
TO BE SAFE. There is a panel at the rear of the freezer compartment
that is held in by two hex head screws. I removed the screws and then
also realized I would have to remove the ice maker. That was easy --
held in only by three hex head screws, not counting a modular signal
plug and what looks like a grounding clip. (We never use the ice maker
and don't have a water line for it anyway. Later I chose to not
reinstall it to take advantage of the extra freezer space.) At this
point the back panel might not want to come out --held in by ice at
the base. I used a heat gun again to melt all this out. Took a while.
To expedite the process I used a toothpick to get under the ice and
pry it out. You may have a better idea for a pry tool, just don't use
anything metal. Don't force anything. Some of these parts are really
cheap. When the back panel does come out it does so by the top tipping
forward. Then I saw all sorts of ice build up near the vents and
about a 1/2" thick spreading horizontally near the base. I melted it
out with the heat gun. Underneath all this ice was the big discovery:
Some sort of drain plugged up with ice. I believe this is the drain
that the defrost cycle uses. If it clogs the water takes the next
available route, namely thru the vents connecting the freezer
compartment with the main compartment and down on your food. The
plugged drain line runs to the back bottom right side of the fridge
and into a cheap plastic long drain pan.
But how to unfreeze the water in this mostly inaccessible drain line?
I wondered how far the blockage traveled so removed the back bottom
panel (cheap cardboard), took a electricians fish tape (aka wire
puller) and slid it up the drain line. Judging by how far I slid it
up, there was roughly 4" of blockage. So how to remove this without
waiting a day or so? Heat gun and evacuating with an eyedropper? No,
takes too long. Hot wire? No, that would melt plastic. Hot water in
a syringe? Close, but that was taking too much time as well. I
finally had the idea of using one of those motorized dental Water Piks
filled with hot water. It worked almost immediately. In fact I
probably should have used that in place of the heat gun for the other
tasks as well. It would have been more messy but much faster. If you
don't have a Water Pik use a toy squirt gun. Hot water is much better
at melting ice than hot air.
Anyway, our fridge has been humming along just fine for a few days now
and no more dripping water. Hope this saves you a service call.
PS. I haven't addressed how this problem developed in the first place:
I will admit to putting in large kettles of hot soup which probably
isn't smart. We don't have air conditioning. We do have humid
summers. We also tend to
really use up all available space which limits the amount of cold air
that can circulate. Also, as I mentioned the coils were pretty
congested with cat hair.