How to Protect Your Home from Costly Refrigerator Leaks

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Two of the main causes of leaks in a kitchen are dishwasher and ice maker water line leaks. They can be slow drips that accumulate over time and leave costly damage and potentially hazardous mold spores. Our leak wasn’t caused by either of these (we had a polybutylene pipe burst), but after having our kitchen gutted as a consequence of a water leak we are a little sensitive to the issue. As we built back our kitchen, we decided to take precautions to prevent future water leaks.

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The first thing we did was buy several water alarms. These are battery powered devices that have electrodes on the base. If water touches the two electrodes it sets off an alarm. One alarm sits under the kitchen sink, a second one sits behind the dishwasher, and a third one sits behind our fridge.

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When our plumber moved our water line, he installed a stronger rigid pvc line instead of the flexible plastic tubing that was used before. The PVC pipe is less likely to break. But, I still wasn’t taking any chances. I also ordered a braided steel supply line to hook up to the ice maker.

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Before the fridge cabinet was built, I set two blocks (scrap 2×4′s) behind the fridge that act as stop blocks and prevent the fridge from crushing the water line.

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Before the cabinet was installed I checked that the water line was safe from being damaged by peeking behind the back of the fridge.

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After the cabinet was installed, I taped the water line up onto the back of the fridge, then gently rolled it into the cabinet until it reached the stop blocks.

I can rest easier at night and hopefully eliminate any more water leaks in our kitchen. I will also be changing the batteries in the water alarms at the same time I change the batteries in the smoke detectors (twice a year when we change our clocks in the Spring and Fall.)

Do you have an ice maker line in your kitchen? Have you checked it lately to make sure it isn’t leaking? Take precautions to prevent the headaches of a water leak (I speak from experience. It’s a big ole’ headache!)

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Comments

  1. When we had to buy a new refrigerator, I said “no thanks” to getting one with an icemaker. I’ve heard too many horror stories about thousands of dollars in damage happening from something as seemingly innocuous as an icemaker. It just seems easier to use an ice tray:)
    Maude

  2. Where did you get the water alarms. I need something like that for my washing machine because I simply cannot see behind the washer because of the way the laundry section was built. I’ve already had several leaks due to the water heater and finally was able to move the water heater out of the interior laundry area.

    Thanks.

  3. Man! Your timing could not be more perfect. My kitchen was just gutted because my washing machine ran over (and over and over as it malfunctioned). The water wasn’t even there that long (a couple of hours) and I was in the house but it still damaged the cabinets, flooring, and some of the dryway. An alarm would have prevented a lot of headaches. At the very least, it would have minimized the damage. So I’m all over these alarms!

    I wish you were my neighbor because I want to do some of this renovation myself and everyone is telling me I can’t because it is too hard. I need a knowledgable cheer leader in my corner! If I do some of it myself, I can get slightly better (and more) material. You should rent yourself out as a BFF. ;-)

    • Laurie, what kind of DIY experience do you have? When you say gutted, are you down to studs and subfloor? I have a plethora of tutorials for the process of building back our kitchen. Plus, YouTube and Google are awesome resources. You could do as much as you want and hire out what you don’t want to do. I will recommend letting an installer hang your cabinets. After watching our installer, I realize there is a true art to that. Best of luck to you. P.s. I bought plywood box cabinets this time so we wouldn’t have to worry about a small leak ruining our cabinets in the future ;-).

  4. After having to repair my fridge for just a little over $200, I really appreciate this proactive post. I had no clue that water alarms existed, and I can see their benefit! Water damage is a nightmare.

  5. MoeWest says:

    How do you get at the one behind the dishwasher to change the battery? They don’t pull out like a fridge do they?

  6. heather says:

    I never heard of a water alarm, but I could see having one for the dishwasher. Now, to figure out how to get it back there. When our ice maker died we went back to using trays. I was recently thinking about replacing the ice maker, but I think I would rather deal with the trays than worry about a water leak.

  7. What type of flooring is that? Cork? Is it tiles?

  8. We had to replace our fridge not that long ago because of a water leak, and part of the kitchen floor. It was such a pain.

  9. We have a friend who had $40,000 worth of water damage from the ice maker pipe leaking. They went to bed and woke up to this nightmare. The water made its way to the dining room and their dream dining wood chairs were damaged, they were fixed but what a nightmare. Thank you for the wonderful post I am going to Lowes to pick up some water alarms.
    Your kitchen looks wonderful, exactly what I would like to have someday.

  10. Hey Brit! I am interested with your water alarm too… We have the same problem, good thing yours is already solved. Where did you bought that? Thanks!

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