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Old 10-14-2012, 11:08 AM   #1
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Fridge leaks when turned off

I've had my 2012 Int'l almost a year and the last two times I've turned off the refrigerator I've noticed water that puddles in the outside refrigerator compartment. I collected the water today and it measured about 3/4 of a cup and it's still dripping just a little bit.

The water drips from the seam in the foil insulation/backing of the refrigerator. The seam line appears to be about where the dividing line is between the refrigerator compartment and the freezer compartment. It is just water that is leaking -- there's no discoloration, yellow powdery residue, or ammonia odor.

I know to watch for this but is this normal? If my trailer was not level and the water dripped AWAY from the side of the trailer -- toward the interior -- the bare wood base that is under the refrigerator would get soaked and absorb the water. There isn't much clearance under the refrigerator and I can't tell if it's particle board or not but I can definitely tell the aluminum does not completely cover the base/floor of the compartment.

Pictures help show what is going on. The water drips from both the left and right side of the seam. Right now the trailer is sloping to the front just enough for the water to collect in the corner where it was easy to extract it.
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Old 10-14-2012, 11:39 AM   #2
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There is a drain line that runs down the back of the fridge, maybe it's plugged or not connected. Also are you parked level when you turn the fridge off and it defrosts? If not maybe that's why it runs all over. Look under the freezer compartment, you should be able to see a catch pan and drain, see if it's out of position or if the drain is plugged or damaged. Look at the drain hose in the back make sure it's running down hill all the way.
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Old 10-14-2012, 11:58 AM   #3
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Hmmmm?

The referenced drain line is, if like mine, from the tray under the coils in the refrig section of the unit. If the leak is coming from the seam area between the freezer and frig, then I would suspect a manufacturing defect in the seaming of the freezer.
Every unit I have had in recent years has had a puddle in the freezer section after shutdown. With a flawed seam at the rear, that puddle would leak out and result in what the OP is reporting.

Methink I would get to an Airstream dealer or a shop authorized to do warranty work on the frig - uncontained water is not good.

Good luck
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Old 10-14-2012, 01:43 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies. I don't suspect the drain tube to be the problem. The interior tray is positioned correctly and I do see water drain from the tube as it should -- at about the same rate as I experienced with a previous RV. However, what happens between the interior and exterior of the fridge where that drain tube connects is anyone's guess.

The next time I use it and turn it off I will deliberately remove the drain tray from the interior and use towels with a watchful eye to manage the thawing freezer frost and condensation. If that eliminates the dripping in the rear compartment then I will have found the source of the problem. If not, then it sounds like a trip to the dealer for inspection. Actually, it's probably a trip to the dealer either way.
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Old 10-14-2012, 06:27 PM   #5
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Mine may be similar to yours. The plastic drip tray that sits below the cooling fins in the fridge compartment has a spout that enters a hole in the back wall of the fridge. There is a white plastic tube that serves as a liner inside of the hole. It has a flange on the inside of the fridge and this liner extends out the rear and becomes the nipple the drain hose is pressed on to. If you ever pull the drain hose off, you will need a helper on the inside to press the flange flush against the inside wall while you push the tubing back onto the nipple. The drain hose on mine extends down to a recess at the bottom of the louvered door so that all the condensation drains to the outside of the trailer. You should not be seeing any water on the back of the fridge or pooling on the floor of the compartment. Whenever I turn the fridge off, I always see a wet spot on the concrete below the louvered door where the condensation ran down the outside of the trailer. This is normal.

I think SweetOldBill may be onto something about the freezer compartment. There is no place for the frost to go when it melts after the fridge is switched off. It simply puddles on the floor of the freezer and evaporates in a day or so if the doors are left ajar. If the junction between the freezer floor and the rear wall wasn't properly sealed, I could see how the water that puddles up would find its way into the junction of the freezer coil and the insulation panels and ultimately escape possibly where you're seeing it. It should be easy to replicate after everything is dry by pouring a cup or 2 of water in the freezer and observing if it leaks out the back. If this is what is really going on, a concern besides water leak problems in the trailer may be that some water would remain in and around the freezer coils and insulation and then expand when it refreezes possibly causing other fridge problems down the road.

If in warranty, absolutely let them fix it.
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Old 10-15-2012, 09:39 AM   #6
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Problem spot identified

Thanks for the contributions and ideas. I stopped by my AS on the way out of town this morning and looked closer at the interior. The freezer compartment seems to be well sealed as I poured some water in it and it went nowhere.

The drain pan was in the correct position and the drain was correctly placed over the funnel that leads to the plastic drain tube exiting out the rear of the refrigerator and discharging at the lower vent door onto the ground. Water poured into the tray drained properly with no leaks.

Since the drain tube is at a lower level than where the dripping is seen in the rear compartment I figured it had to be something else. Closer inspection of the area just beneath the metal fins shows what I suspect is the problem. The attached picture will help clarify, but the white plastic skin that makes up the interior of the refrigerator is not sealed well just below the metal fins. There is what appears to be some kind of expanding foam that might serve a dual purpose as an insulator and a glue. The white plastic pulls away from this area easily which means there really isn't a good seal. When the refrigerator is turned off, the ice melts and drips down the fins and the back plate. Water dripping off the fins goes into the drain tray and exits properly. However, the water that drips down the back plate doesn't make it to the drain tray and instead seeps into the poorly sealed section at the base of the plate. It escapes through the seam in the rear compartment shown in the previous pictures and collects on the floor of the refrigerator compartment. Not good, of course.

Again, thanks for the thoughts and suggestions. I think I've gotten to the bottom of it. Next challenge will be to see what will be done to fix it. The refrigerator is under warranty. It will be a year since I took delivery on 11/4/2011. I believe the warranty is longer than a year -- don't have the paperwork with me right now.

I don't doubt the seal can be fixed. My concern is about water that has seeped into an area where it shouldn't be. If my understanding from other posts here and on other forums is correct, when water collects around the interior metal tubing it can over time cause the tubing to rust leading to leakage of the ammonia cooling mixture. If my warranty is 3 years (I think?) I'm not sure this problem would manifest in that time frame and I'd be hung out to dry in, say, year 3.5 when the coolant leaks. Warranties are scientifically analyzed and timed to work that way, right?

I'd love for the entire unit to be replaced but am I being extreme?
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Old 10-15-2012, 09:59 AM   #7
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Glad the problem is identified, but sorry it wasn't an easy/simple fix.

Hope you can get to a good repair/warranty shop - altho we bought from Bates, I do not have a feel for their repair capability.

Good work on the diagnosis and good luck.

Bill
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