How to Repair a Clogged Defrost Drain Tube

Water under the fruit and vegetable bins of your refrigerator, ice in the bottom of the freezer or puddles of water under your refrigerator can indicate a clogged defrost drain tube. In a self-defrosting refrigerator, this tube carries water produced during a defrost cycle out of the refrigerator to a pan at the bottom of the refrigerator where it evaporates. When the tube becomes clogged, it can lead to leaks. Homeowners armed with the make and model of their refrigerator and a few simple pieces of equipment can usually repair a clogged defrost drain tube without professional help.

Woman opening refrigerator in kitchen at home
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Step 1

Disconnect your refrigerator from the power outlet and slide it a few feet out from the wall so that you can access the back if necessary. Remove frozen goods from the freezer and place them in a cooler.

Step 2

Use your owner's manual to determine the location of the defrost drain tube in your refrigerator. Depending upon the brand and model of refrigerator you own, this tube might be located under the fruit and vegetable bins, at the back of the unit or along the floor of the freezer compartment.

Step 3

Check for ice or other debris (such as food particles) clogging the drain. Use a hair dryer on a low setting or a heat gun to melt any ice.

Step 4

Insert a screwdriver or a small length of ¼-inch flexible tubing into the drain tube to clear out any remaining obstructions and/or to push the clog into the drip pan.

Step 5

Clean the drain thoroughly using a turkey baster filled with a mixture of hot water and bleach.

Step 6

Remove and empty the drip pan (located beneath the refrigerator) since this pan often becomes filled with water due to a clogged drain tube, which can cause it to overflow and damage your flooring.