Refrigerator Repair: How to Remove and Prevent Ice Build-Up in the Freezer

Fred's Appliance
June 21, 2018
Refrigerator Repair
Have you ever gone out to your refrigerator in the morning only to step in a puddle of water, wondering where it came from and how it got there?
The water seems to be leaking from underneath the refrigerator but that still doesn’t really tell you how it got there. Before you make that service call, read on to see if you might be able to perform this refrigerator repair yourself.
The first thing to do is open the freezer drawer, slide the bottom basket out so you can inspect the freezer floor. Is there a sheet of ice present? If the answer is yes, then the repair is fairly straightforward but will take a bit of time and patience if you’ve never done it before.
More than likely, the drain grommet has become gunked up and needs to be replaced. Ah, I can hear some of you asking, what is a drain grommet?  A grommet is best described as a nipple that sits securely at the end of the drain tube allowing water to pass through to the drain pan. It opens when the freezer goes into the self-defrost mode, allowing water to flow through the drain line to the drain pan and closes when self-defrost concludes. The reason it closes is to prevent warm air from entering the unit through the drain tube.
The sheet of ice is the biggest clue and what it tells you is that the water that is supposed to be flowing through the drain line to the drain pan is frozen. And every time the refrigerator goes into self-defrost the melted water has nowhere else to go other than the floor of your freezer with some of it leaking out on to the kitchen floor.
What many people do is unplug the unit and remove everything from the freezer and refrigerator, leave the doors open, and allow the frozen water to melt away. They correctly troubleshoot the problem by understanding that the water in the drain line is frozen. What most people fail to do is ask why or how that happened in the first place.
Depending on the level of your experience this repair should take 45 minutes to an hour to complete.
Tools Needed for This Repair
  • ¼ inch Nut Driver
  • Putty Knife
  • Flathead Screwdriver
  • Needle nose pliers
There are two things you need to do to carry out this repair. The first is to gain access to the lower back panel to the drain line so the grommet can be replaced. The next thing to do is to gain access to the front freezer compartment to thaw out and remove the ice that has accumulated in the drain pan and drain line. It may not make a difference which way to approach this process, but we shall begin this repair by replacing the drain grommet.

How to Access the Drain Grommet

  • Unplug the unit before doing any work. Always Safety First!
  • Loosen and remove nine screws from the lower back panel
  • Disconnect wiring harness that goes to the inlet valve
  • Remove back panel and set aside. You are now looking into the compressor compartment
  • Move out of the way a plastic device that enables the water to complete its journey to the drain pan
  • Just above this part is the drain grommet which is attached to the drain tube. Remove the drain grommet and inspect for wear and tear, dust, and gunk like stickiness. If the grommet appears like it has melted or is dirty beyond what you are able to clean it, then replace it.
  • But if it looks good enough to use again, clean it.
  • Clean the grommet by running warm soapy water through the opening
  • Securely attach the clean or new grommet back on to the end of the drain tube
  • Plug the inlet valve harness back into place on the rear panel.
  • Reattach the rear panel.
Wouldn’t it be nice if that was all you needed to do? To complete this repair, however, you need to return to the front freezer compartment to remove the ice build up on the freezer floor and from the drain pan. The following brief will explain how to do that.

How to Access the Drain Pan

The last thing you need to do is gain access to the drain pan and drain tube. Be patient and cautious around some of the sharp edges you encounter. After you remove all your frozen goods do the following.
  • Loosen the four screws that hold the freezer door in place. Lift it from its frame and set aside
  • Remove the bottom basket
  • To remove the upper tray, push in the small tabs on either side near the front. There are two remaining screws, one on each side, that must be removed before you can remove the tray.
  • If you have an ice maker, remove it by locating two screws on the top and one on the bottom. The ice maker should be free to pull out, so you have access to the wire harness that connects it to the unit. Disconnect the harness, remove the ice maker and set aside
  • Locate the back cover and remove the two screws that hold it in place. The screws are located at the bottom of the cover.
  • Press the two tabs on top of the cover with the flathead screwdriver. The cover is flexible and needs to be manipulated to completely remove it. Be careful of sharp edges.
  • Using the flathead screwdriver, press the tab that holds the thermistor cover in place. Remove the cover and set aside.
You should now have access to the drain pan. Do you notice ice build up in and around the drain pan? The following should help you remove it.
  • Slide a putty knife along the icy slot that opens to the drain pan. Break up as much ice as possible. By now, with the refrigerator unplugged much of this ice should have melted away.
  • Use the turkey baster to squirt hot water on the drain line which is located dead-center in the drain pan. Keep squirting hot water until you are sure all the ice has melted away.
  • Use the putty knife to help break up the sheet of ice on the freezer floor
  • Wipe the area down with a clean towel
  • In reverse order, replace the rear cover, thermistor cover, ice maker, upper tray, lower basket and finally, replace the bottom door
Plug your refrigerator back into its power source and return the frozen goods back into the freezer.
If this repair seems to be a bit complicated or you don’t have the time to do it yourself, give a shout out to a professional appliance repair company.
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