What causes fridge condensation and how to remove it

Mystified by standing water that pools underneath your fridge's veg drawer? Worried about how to stop the beads of condensation on the back or top of your fridge that cause water puddles on the top of your food packages? Where does it come from and how can you get rid of it?

Most fridges are designed to deal with the normal amount of condensation through a small drain at the bottom that should drain it all off and keep your fridge frost-free, controlling the moisture created naturally by the chilling process.

There are a couple of simple things to look for if you're winding up with unwanted water inside your fridge.

Drainage problems

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Most all fridges have a drain. Look inside your fridge for a "V" shaped channel with a small hole. This hole leads to a tube and a small pan which sits on top of your refrigerator's compressor. The defrost cycle causes water to run into the channel, down the tube, and then it generally evaporates with the heat of the hot condenser.

However, if that tube is clogged with food crumbs, you will have to clear it to get back to a normal mode of operation. A toothpick, pipecleaner, straw or a cotton bud can often do the trick.

Eventually, the drip pan might rust and need to be replaced so should be checked occasionally if the problem persists. And as long as you will have the fridge pulled out, make sure to vacuum dust off the coils as well just for good measure!

Even a frost free freezer will still ice up at times in the areas away from the heated defrost area and the drain pipes can freeze. This icing causes the pipe work to the compressor to ice over or sweat and cause a puddle. Or if the drainage has frozen over, it will need to be de-iced.

Give the freezer a good overnight defrost until it's totally clear of ice in addition to making sure the drain is clear to the pan at the back and then restart the freezer.

Condensation problems

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Warm air can get into your fridge causing water droplets to form on the back wall or ceiling. Ask some of the following questions to determine the cause:

  • Make sure food is at room temperature or lower before putting it in the fridge
  • If your fridge isn't level, water won't flow to the drain correctly. Raise the front floor screws by a couple of turns to change the level of your fridge
  • Does the door shut securely and is the rubber gasket forming a complete seal? Close the fridge door on a sheet of paper. If you can pull it out without a problem, the seal could be too lose and may need replacing
  • Make sure your fridge temperature isn't too high (or too cold) at between 0-5°C
  • Always close the fridge door as quickly as possible after opening it. Leaving the door open allows warm air to enter and increases the possibility of condensation

Making sure that your fridge is clean inside and out, seals properly on the door and is set at a temperature between 0 - 5 degrees Centigrade. According to the Food Standards Agency, this prevents build-up of harmful bacteria.