Is Your Refrigerator Flooding?

Refrigerator with water dispenserRefrigerator floods are no laughing matter! Last month, my sister in-law’s fridge leaked causing the hardwood floors to pucker and swell, pushing cabinets and even lifting countertops! They’ve had to move out while their kitchen undergoes a massive overhaul. When my refrigerator line broke back in 2012, it was a similar story. The damage was extensive, and repairs were time consuming and expensive! So what can cause leaks and flooding and how can homeowners prevent it?

Causes for Refrigerator Floods and Leaks

Does your refrigerator have an automatic icemaker or a cold-water dispenser? If so, that plumbing is all capable of breaking. What if you don’t have a water line to your fridge? You can still have a leak. Humidity from the air and produce becomes ice or water when cooled. Modern refrigerators have been designed to automatically defrost: ice is melted, flows down a drain, and collects in a drip pan where it is heated (usually via waste heat from the refrigeration system) to evaporate the moisture. If the condensate is not taken care of properly it can become water damage!

Looking a little more closely, here are a few common causes:

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Remodeling a kitchen? Adding pulls? Watch the clearance space!

If you want to update the look of a kitchen and add pulls, or replace your flat dishwasher with one featuring a protruding handle, check the clearance space before you buy. I have seen issues a few times, but recently toured a home where it was a textbook warning about cutting corners where planning is involved. Have a look.

 

Kitchen remodel with drawer pulls colliding

Kitchen remodel with drawer pulls colliding

 

Next – same kitchen, different but related issue – a dishwasher on a collision course with a drawer pull. Most likely, the home was built with a dishwasher that enjoyed a recessed handle and a flat front. The bowed handle is beautiful but cuts into the functionality of the drawer which is perpendicular to it. The drawer could go out no further than shown below without scratching the dishwasher handle.

 

Kitchen remodel and botched clearances

Kitchen remodel and botched clearances – the dishwasher here probably was a “flat” faced model originally

 

Next – same kitchen, different but related issue – a dishwasher on a collision course with a drawer pull. Most likely, the home was built with a dishwasher that enjoyed a recessed handle and a flat front. The bowed handle is beautiful but cuts into the functionality of the drawer which is perpendicular to it. The drawer could go out no further than shown below without scratching the dishwasher handle.

This demonstrates why it is a good idea to open and close drawers and cabinet doors in kitchens and bathrooms, and why agents and home sellers should do the same to make sure that everything works as intended. A couple of years back, I saw an oven with a door that wouldn’t open all the way because a large refrigerator was too close. Luckily, in that case, there was plenty of space to inch the fridge away a tad, restoring the necessary space for the oven door to open fully.

One more example to drive the point home involves refrigerators, tight fitting spaces, and new floor coverings. I have seen kitchen floors get a new layer of vinyl or tile on top of the original one (without tearing out the old floor). The amount of height added may be minimal, but it can make a formerly tight space impossible for the fridge which used to fit in that area.

The photos above show what can happen when someone alters the original design or layout without measuring, or when adding bulk where it didn’t used to be. Home buyers, don’t be afraid to make sure that the appliances, doors, and storage spaces in homes can open and close as they should – with full access available.