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Refrigerator Defrost Drains

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On these pages are diagrams of the more popular refrigerator defrost drain systems. A defrost drain carries away water that comes from ice and frost melting off the evaporator during the defrost cycle.

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 Defrost drains can become clogged. A good indication that a drain is clogged is water pooling around the bottom of the refrigerator or in the food compartment. Sometimes condensation will form on the ceiling of the food compartment indicating that ice has covered the bottom of the freezer compartment.

To determine if the defrost drain is clogged, remove the cover from the floor of the freezer compartment. The refrigerator on the left side of the above diagram shows a "back mounted" evaporator. In this type of refrigerator you will see a lot of ice frozen to the bottom of the freezer compartment after removing the floor panel.

The refrigerator on the right in the above diagram shows a "bottom mounted" evaporator. This type of defrost drain rarely clogs in the freezer area since the defrost heater is directly above the drain outlet. However, checking this area is recommended. To check this type of drain, remove the freezer floor panel and gently remove the insulation under it. Look between the evaporator coils for any ice buildup near the center of the floor. Inside this type of refrigeratorís food compartment is a trough mounted in the center of the ceiling. Water flows from the freezer into this trough and out a drain line in the back. Remove this trough and check for ice or any type of buildup that might cause the drain to clog.

The diagram above right shows an older style of draining the defrost water. In this type of refrigerator the defrost water drains through a hole in the freezer floor and down the back wall of the food compartment. Checking this type of defrost system is similar to the others. Remove the freezer floor panel and check for ice buildup over the drain outlet. Check inside the food compartment, sometimes under the crisper tray, for the outlet that finally removes the defrost water from the refrigerator. Make sure the back wall is clean and clear of obstructions. A dirty back wall or some type of food or container could cause the water to run off in a direction other than the desired one.

Once youíve determined where the problem is you must solve it. Some simple tools that might be useful are a blow dryer and a turkey baster. Always unplug the refrigerator before servicing. Use a screwdriver or putty knife to gently remove the ice buildup if there is any. Try to clear as much of the drain outlet as possible with the screwdriver or a coat hanger. Be careful not to cut yourself on the evaporator fins or shields. In some instances the may be glass in the ice. This glass usually comes from a broken defrost heater. Use the blow dryer to melt away any ice buildup. Fill the turkey baster with hot water and squirt the water into the drain outlet. Itís usually a good idea to wrap the bottom of the turkey baster with a rag or hand towel to avoid wetting yourself and the floor. Never use any type of chemical to melt the ice or clear the clog. Some chemicals could contaminate the food or cause damage to the refrigerator.

Should the turkey baster not work a stiff wire or tubing can be use to "snake" the drain line and clear the clog.

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