Friday, February 14, 2014

Refrigerator Drip

Originally, the wet wood under the sink was attributed to the condensation from the refrigerator.  Later I found a leak in the pressure water system that was the primary culprit.  Unfortunately, it wasn't the only culprit.  The refrigerator does play a smaller role in the issue.

You see, there is a valve in this Sea Frost cold plate system that is mounted outside the refrigerator box itself.  It seems like an expansion valve and performs the same function, but someone told me it actually has another name...whatever...I think I'll name it Drippy.  After all, being mounted outside the refrigeration box and being the point where it starts to cool, it does condense water out of the air and drip.  It would make for a great dehumidifier if it would get rid of the water, but dripping it back into the cabinet where it can run down to the spot on the floor that was rotting.

Drippy - Note the frost and ice in the hole behind

After fixing the water leak a while back I noted the drip but have just been keeping a rag under it to keep the water in check while the floor dried.  Well, every once in a while I would forget (or maybe the dripping was getting worse) and it started producing just enough water that the floor wouldn't fully dry, so I decided it was time to deal with Drippy.

There is a gooey black tape with cork (or some other semi-insulative) material in it that is often used to insulate refrigeration lines.  It is pliable so I figured it would work well insulating this valve.  In fact, there was a small amount of it wrapped around the valve in a feeble attempt by the installer to insulate it (visible in the picture above...the black wet stuff).  Well, I found that this refrigerant line tape is rather difficult to find.  It is not available in any of the hardware or big box stores anywhere in the area.  I did, however, find a sticky foam rubber tape that should work at the local Lowes so I bought some in hopes it would work.

I also noted that the small refrigerant pipes running into the refrigeration box and cold plates pass through a hole that is over an inch in diameter and is completely un-insulated.  Well, by the time I found it the hole was actually filled with ice (also visible in above picture).  So I decided to pick up some spray foam and seal up that hole as well.  Should help make the refrigerator more efficient as well as stop the condensation.

So, I turned off the fridge, defrosted the pipes and used the spray foam to seal up the big hole.  Once the foam cured I trimmed it flush with the cabinet with a serrated steak knife (since I couldn't see the hole as I was filling, I overfilled it a bit and had a big blob to get rid of). I then wrapped the valve and exposed pipe with the foam tape, making sure there was at least 50% overlap per the instructions.

I turned the refrigerator back on and came back to check on it a day or so later.  Unfortunately, there was still some condensation on the valve.  It was far less than before, but there was still some.  So, since I still had half of the roll of rubber foam tape, I doubled up on all the wrapping.  I couldn't get the additional tape wrapped well when it got close to the cabinet and in a bit of frusteration, I got the can of spray foam out and sprayed that into the areas I couldn't wrap again. By the end, the valve looked a bit like a little black Michelin Man sitting on a yellow cloud of foam.

Drippy No Longer

After the second wrapping, I waited a day and checked again.  Still just a very tiny bit of condensation...drat. Well, it is far less than it was, it has been very humid lately, and the valve doesn't really seem to be dripping...just a few beads of water on the foam covering the valve.  So, I decided I will just let it be for now and see if it is "good enough".

Oh, and I have noted that the pipes inside the fridge are frosting up where they did not I appear to have changed something.  And in the days since the floor has remained dry even without a towel under the definitely a good amount of progress was made on the dripping.  Now maybe the floor will dry the rest of the way and I can complete that repair.


  1. Your boat doesn't deserve you... you're way too good to it.

    1. Heh...actually, I think it is tormenting me...more to come on this little saga...