How to Protect Your Home from Costly Refrigerator Leaks


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 Costly Refrigerator Leaks.


Preventing Costly Refrigerator Leaks

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.


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.


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.


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


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!)


20 replies
  1. Vera
    Vera says:

    This is an older post, but so relevant! I just had an icemaker supply line leak…slow leak into drywall for about 6 weeks when it was very hot and humid here in California. Came home one day and stepped on wet living room carpet! Gave my cat the evil eye…until I realized it was a LOT of water.

    Pulled out the fridge on the other side of the wall, noticed the drywall caved in and looking black and moldy. Yuck. Mold was growing inside…had mushrooms growing on my living carpet behind one of my cabinets!

    Insurance gave me some money after I filed a claim. Would rather not have had to deal with this. I also picked up 4 water alarms to put in. Additionally, I had a plumber come in and change out ALL the valves and hoses under all 3 sinks, and for both toilets. Washer/dryer valves/hoses are fairly new. Also changed an old faucet, swapping a toilet that is not well-seated. I know I could reset it, but it’s old anyway.

    I’m now super paranoid about water leaks! Had about 6 floods in this house over the last 12 years. Not fun. The biggest one claimed every room in my house and took 4 months to recover from! Insurance claim was over $30K. Most stressful thing that ever happened.

    Save yourself lots of stress, time, money, and hassle by having old valves, hoses, fixtures swapped, and getting some water alarms.

  2. brenda
    brenda says:

    definitely a wonderful tutorial. I hope everyone will pay very close attention. the lady with the 40,000.00 repair bill was fortunate. my mil went out of town and a couple of days later when we went to ck on the house and yard and were greeted with a bit of water on the back step. my first thought was that she had unplugged the freezer thinking we would clean it out for her and it got away. Not so. the ins. examiner said the ice maker line had been chewed and let the water drip out. got my first taste of contracting and organizing all of the different tradespeople for everything from plasterers, wood refinishing carpeting etc etc.. Thank you for all the folks who will be spared any of these headaches. !!!!!!!

  3. Suzzane
    Suzzane says:

    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!

  4. jo
    jo says:

    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.

  5. heather
    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.

  6. MoeWest
    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?

  7. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    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.

  8. Laurie
    Laurie says:

    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. 😉

    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      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 ;-).

  9. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    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.


  10. maude
    maude says:

    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:)


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  2. […] They cost $10 each, but they can save you thousands of dollars! Add batteries and put one underneath every sink. Place one behind the clothes washer and your fridge too!  Speaking of your fridge, here’s how to prevent an ice maker leak. […]

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