by Erin Hynes
You’re not the only one who feels wrung out on humid summer days. High humidity takes a toll on your refrigerator too. Moist air that finds its way into the refrigerator can trigger a series of events that leaves puddles in your refrigerator.
Here’s what happens: When your freezer defrosts, more water than usual drips from evaporator coils into a drain trough below the coils. Before all that water can travel through a tube to a drain pan under the refrigerator, the defrost cycle ends, the refrigerator resumes cooling, and the water in the drain tube and drain trough freezes. The water that drips from the coils overflows into your refrigerator, eventually forming a puddle.
Thawing a Frozen Drain Tube
To clear the ice jam so water drains again, follow these steps.
- Fill a large plastic bag with the food from your freezer and put the bag in the refrigerator. Because the containers are together, each container helps those around it stay frozen. Keeping the refrigerator door closed as much as possible also helps keep the food cold.
- Unplug the refrigerator.
- Pop the grid off the front bottom of the refrigerator to check how much water is in the drain pan under the refrigerator. You can set the grid aside, since you’ll check the pan again.
- Remove the panel at the back of the freezer to reveal the evaporator coils and trough.
- Remove the ice from the trough. You then should see the drain hole, plugged with ice.
- To thaw the drain tube, do one of the following:
- Leave the freezer door open and wait for the ice in the tube to melt. Melting could take up to 10 hours, depending on room temperature, the amount of ice formed and other factors.
- Clear the drain hole with hot water. Working hot water into the drain hole, wipe away the excess water, wait a few minutes for the ice to melt and then work more hot water into the drain hole. If the ice is deep, this method can take a few hours.
- To verify that the drain tube is clear and water is draining, check the drain pan under the refrigerator again. It should be full of water.
Warning: Don’t pick at the ice with a knife, screwdriver or other metal tool. You could puncture a coil, releasing refrigerant.
Preventing Refrigerator Puddles
Take these precautions to keep moist air out of the refrigerator:
Close the door. Open the refrigerator and freezer doors as seldom as possible, and close them as soon as you take out what you need. Don’t stand in front of the open refrigerator mulling your choices or leave the door open as you fill your glass. After taking what you need, make sure the door is completely shut — don’t trust the door to close itself after you give it a hip bump.
Cover foods. Store food and beverages in covered containers or sealed plastic bags. It helps minimize the humidity inside the refrigerator, and your food stays moist and doesn’t pick up odors.
Dry off fruit and vegetables. Don’t wash fruit and vegetables before putting them in the crisper; they stay fresh longer if stored dry and don’t add to the moisture problem. If you must give them a quick rinse to remove garden dirt, dry them off before refrigerating them (by the way, don’t refrigerate tomatoes — it kills the flavor).
Writer Erin Hynes tapped the minds of the Manage My Life experts for this information.