Case of the Month: Refrigerator Leak

Apr 1, 2017 by

The homeowners discovered water damage to the kitchen floor of their residence. The apparent source of the water on their kitchen floor was the water and ice-dispensing unit in the door of their refrigerator.

GEI was assigned to examine, test, and photograph the water and icemaker dispenser unit, and determine the cause of its malfunction. The failed water dispenser and icemaker dispenser unit was replaced with a new unit by a local repair technician prior to our involvement.

The failed unit was subsequently shipped to our office for examination.

There were water deposits on much of the interior electrical components and the printed circuit board of the unit, particularly the ice dispenser switch.
Because we did not remove the dispenser unit from the refrigerator, we were not able to determine the source of the water that leaked over the interior of the dispenser unit while it was mounted in the door.  Although we did not see it in place, our experience tells us that the leak was associated with the water dispenser above the ice dispenser. It may be that a water connection inside the refrigerator door became loose, and very slowly dripped water onto the interior components.

Two micro switches were of particular interest. The first micro switch controlled the flow of cold water through the door.

The second micro switch controlled the dispensing of ice.

The slow water leak corroded, and eventually shorted out, the ice dispenser control switch.

The ice dispenser switch then opened the gate to dispense all of the contents of the ice reservoir in the freezer onto the kitchen floor. The empty ice reservoir then signaled the icemaker to make new ice cubes. As new ice cubes were frozen, they were then continuously dispensed onto the kitchen floor. When the ice on the kitchen floor melted, it then damaged the kitchen floor.

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