Is My Refrigerator Leaking Coolant?

Fred's Appliance
October 16, 2014


Coolant plays an important role in the function of a refrigerator. As the name suggests, it’s responsible for cooling the ambient air to create to an environment in which perishable foods and beverages won’t spoil. When a refrigerator experiences a coolant leak, however, it may lose its some or all of its ability to maintain a cool temperature. So, how do you know if a leak is to blame for your failing refrigerator?


The good news is refrigerator leaks are rare. Most modern-day models are designed with durable coils and lines that reduce the risk of a leak. With that said, any appliance or system that uses coolant may experience a leak, including both old and new refrigerators.


One of the most common causes of a refrigerator coolant leak is from owner’s chipping the ice with an icepick. If your hand slips, the sharp tip could pierce through the coils, resulting in a coolant leak. This is why it’s a good idea to remove blocks of ice from the freezer before attempting to break them into smaller pieces.


Even if you don’t physically damage the coils, they may erode over time. This isn’t something that happens overnight, but over the course of several years the coils may degrade and begin to leak coolant.


It’s important to note that coolant is a gas when it’s released, so you’ll probably hear a noise comparable to air being sprayed from a hose if your refrigerator has a leak. This is a tall-tale sign of a coolant leak, so pay attention to the sounds your refrigerator makes.


There are two necessary steps to fixing a refrigerator that’s leaking coolant: first, you must find and fix the leak. Second, you must recharge the refrigerator with the appropriate amount of coolant. Doing either one of these steps without the other won’t solve your problem. The leak must be fixed, and then you can recharge the unit with more coolant.


Don’t assume that your refrigerator is suffering from a coolant leak just because it won’t stay cool. There are a number of other problems that mimic the symptoms of a coolant leak, such as the following:


  • Broken evaporator fan.
  • Broken condenser fan.
  • Dirty/clogged condenser.
  • Malfunctioning defrost.
  • Gasket seals are dirty and/or damaged, allowing warm air to enter the refrigerator.
  • Dirty/clogged filter or capillary tube, preventing the coolant from circulating properly.
  • Damaged compressor valves.
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