It was not how I wanted to be spending my Sunday morning.
Arm deep in an empty fridge, surrounded by food, trying to figure out where the leak was coming from.
Why was I doing this and not calling a tradesperson?
Because how am I supposed to teach our spawnlings how to conquer the world if I can’t show them how to conquer a simple refrigerator?!?
Plus I’m a cheapskate, and it was Sunday morning. Do you have any idea how expensive tradespeople are on a Sunday morning? I do not have that many kidneys.
However, the good news is I successful conquered the fridge. One-handed (literally…broken wrist, remember?) and while EG Dad was scouting out the competition in the US of A (apparently travel for work).
I’m rather impressed with myself. So was my grandfather, EG the Great (EG Great Grandad). Now here is a man who can conquer anything, anything. Electrician, mechanic, surfer, spear-fishing, gardening, hang-gliding … and all this right up until a couple of years ago. He’s like my own Leonardo da Vinci.
And he turns 80 today. He will hate me telling you, but he won’t risk telling me off as that would reveal his secret location. He is in hiding from the other 80-year-olds he knows, who are trying to throw him a big party.
So instead he was sitting on the phone with me, brainstorming about my fridge problem.
In fact, we were both so impressed with how I solved the problem, I thought it wise to share with you the ‘hows’ – so you can see how easy it was. Trust me – I ain’t no mechanical genius.
- First, where is the leak coming from? In my case, there was a pool of water around the front right corner. The water was leaking through the seal from inside the fridge. This was my first clue it was a defrosting issue. If the leak was from the back, then you need to consider the water tray at the back (where the water goes) for cracks; any pipes for water or ice dispenser (if you have one); pipe-tube that cycles back to the motor (more on that later).
- Pull the fridge out (slide on the tiles) and TURN IT OFF AT THE WALL. I cannot express this enough. EG the Great is a retired electrician. It was the first thing he would always say to me as a kid, and he said it to me again this time. Turn it off and pull the plug out of the wall.
- Freak out at the mess back there – It had been awhile since I cleaned this area. Ugh.
- Empty out the fridge – I kid you not. Everything. Good time to clean, except that it was Sunday morning and I was missing my ritual coffee-and-yell-at-the-tv-during-Insiders (political commentary show). With our FisherPaykel c450, the defrosting panel is most of the back wall. I needed to check this for ice, which meant everything out.
- BTW: At this point, probably a good idea to note the model and serial number in case you DO end up calling that tradesperson.
- Once you have all the trays out, you should be able to pop out the plastic covering over the defrosting panel at the back. Do this carefully because if you crack it, it will no longer hold in place and you will be calling the tradesperson for parts.
- This is the point where I found the back wall pretty much iced over. I also checked the door seals and they are looking a little dodgy. So my theory is that the seals are getting a bit more of a workout during the school holidays and are due for replacement (requires +2 dexterity so it will have to wait). This means the motor is working overtime to do its job. Let’s look at the back to see what else is going on.
- Now remember it hasn’t been cleaned for awhile (let’s say, at least since before the wrist-break). Good idea to give it a vacuum. EG the Great also suggested I have a feel of the tube at the back for blockage: a small tube going from inside the fridge to the motor. This deals with water collected during the defrosting cycle. If it becomes blocked, the water will back up inside the fridge.
- Unfortunately, to pull out the tube and have a look is again +2 dexterity (needs two hands), but you can squeeze along the tube and feel for any large chunks; a bit like the jelly pearls you find in the Asian drinks in shopping centres. If you find one, try breaking it up with a bit more squeezing.
After cleaning up the ice and squeezing the little ball of whatever at the back, I have turned down the fridge power (making it a little warmer) to stop it from icing up again. I’m monitoring it with a thermometer and so far it is bang on 5 degrees Celsius (ideal for safe food standards).
I will still need to replace the door seal, but in the meantime, I have fixed the fridge. There are no more pools of water in the morning. There is no more ice covering the back wall inside the fridge. And there are no more mystery jelly balls in the tubes.
Happy Birthday, EG the Great. Thanks to you, I have the confidence to assess it myself first and show the spawnlings how-to as well. That’s more a present for me than you, but I know you’re pretty happy with this too.
Now folks – always be reasonable about what you are capable of. NEVER mess with electrical. Always turn things off at the wall. If you really want to try plumbing, turn the water off AND the electrical. But most of all, be realistic. I didn’t try pulling out the tube because I knew if I did, I may not be able to put it back together. Be honest with yourself. BUT don’t be so fearful you don’t try first.