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What Causes Water Leakage Around a Commercial Refrigeration Unit?

Home > QRC Blog > What Causes Water Leakage Around a Commercial Refrigeration Unit?

Water leakage

Water leakage around a commercial refrigeration unit can signal a big problem. Whether you see a trickle of water or a flood around the unit, severe disruptions may be ahead. 

A water leak is one of the most common issues with commercial refrigerators. It can have many causes, some of which you can troubleshoot yourself. Therefore, knowing the causes of water leakage can help you determine how to correct it or when to call a commercial refrigeration maintenance professional.

The most common causes of water leaking from a commercial refrigeration unit include:

Drain Blockage

Commercial refrigerators have a drain to remove moisture and water (a blockage is the most common cause of water leakage). When the automatic defrost function turns on, ice on the evaporator coils melts. Water from melting ice then flows into a tray and the drain line. This drain hose can be blocked by ice or food particles.

If the hose appears to be overflowing, unplug the unit, remove the valve at the end of the hose, and flush the line with warm water. This should melt the ice or clear any debris. A pipe cleaner or compressed air can also be used to unclog the drain line. Reinstall any components you removed. Repeating this process often can prevent future clogs and leaks.

Drain Pan Misalignment

The drain pan, located under the refrigeration unit or on the compressor, can overflow if it’s not installed correctly or the refrigerator isn’t level. The unit must be leveled or water will continue to spill out of the pan. But if it is level, a defective heater component may be causing ice to build up, in which case a professional will need to fix it. However, if debris in the drain pan is causing a blockage, you can easily clean it out.

Broken Seal

If the seal (gasket) around your commercial fridge is damaged or worn, it can lose cold air and warm air can seep in. The temperature of the unit will increase. As it does, excess condensation can form, causing water leakage. The only solution to this problem is to replace the gasket.  If you see water leaking from the unit, check the seal.

Damaged Water Line

If your fridge has a built-in ice maker or water dispenser, the water line connected to the unit can become damaged. A hole or loose connection in the water supply can cause a leak. To inspect the line, unplug the unit, turn off the water supply, and look for signs of cracks, tears, kinks, and other damage. Holes in plastic tubing and broken copper lines due to moving an appliance can also cause leakage.

Damaged Ice Maker

If there’s a built-in ice maker, a puddle around the machine can mean the water line is leaking. Also, look for oddly shaped or fused-together ice. These are signs there is water leakage inside the machine.

How Do I Prevent Commercial Refrigeration Unit Leaks?

You can prevent leaks by checking the tubing and drain pan often and cleaning them as necessary. Larger commercial refrigeration units attract more slime and sludge, which can block drainage and cause a water leak. Buildup can also lead to undesirable odors. 

To clean the pan, you can use warm water and soap or a vinegar solution (at least once a month).

Other preventative steps include:

  • Clean water spots and calcium deposits from the outside of hoses
  • Clean the seal and check for rips or tears
  • Keep the evaporator coil clean
  • Clean the ice maker and watch for dirty ice
  • Replace the unit’s air filter

When Should I Call a Commercial Refrigeration Professional?

Call a trusted contractor if:

  • You can’t resolve water leakage from the unit
  • The evaporator coil keeps freezing up
  • The unit doesn’t get cold enough
  • The compressor short cycles or stops running
  • The fan motor stops working
  • There appears to be an airflow issue
  • A refrigerant leak is suspected

Contact QRC for Commercial Refrigeration Repair

Our QRC technicians have the training, knowledge, and tools to accurately diagnose the problem and perform any type of commercial refrigeration repair. High-quality service ensures your equipment works efficiently when we’re done. You can also trust our team for routine maintenance, which can prevent future problems. Regular commercial refrigeration maintenance can also extend the life of equipment, address small issues and water leakage early, and, for members of our service plans, allow you to take advantage of discounted rates. 

To request 24-hour emergency repair services from our EPA-certified technicians in Winston-Salem, NC, contact us today.