Damp on Kitchen Wall: Could Your Refrigerator Be the Cause?

Have you been noticing damp walls near and behind your refrigerator lately coupled with grey-black patches and foul smell? If there is no trace of damp in the rest of the house then chances are your refrigerator is leaking and/or there is a high condensation problem caused due to differential thermal exchange. Whatever be the cause you must be 100 percent sure about the source of the problem to decide how to fix it. We would advice you to opt for a comprehensive professional who are specialized in finding the source for moisture using advance thermal imaging technology. They will also detect the source and suggest you the solution as per affected area.

The root cause of damp originating from a refrigerator

There are quite a few reasons that contribute to the formation of damp walls near and behind the refrigerator. The root cause in almost all cases is differential thermal exchange.

An obvious outcome of refrigerator-mishandling, differential thermal exchange is caused due to frequent opening and closing of refrigerator doors or storage of food at higher temperatures. This causes formation of water droplets at the back and ceiling of the refrigerator. Proper handling and maintenance of the refrigerator is important in this regard.

Other causes of refrigerator-induced damp are:

Blockage of the drainage pipe

The refrigerator is designed in a certain way so that the water formed due to thermal exchange in the appliance passes through a drainage pipe and settles in a drip pan. From the drip pan, the water evaporates by absorbing the compressor heat. Now, often the mechanism of condensation1 is faulty, or the drainage pipe is blocked, or there is a leakage in the pipe. These cause a huge pool of water to settle below the refrigerator, which eventually leads to damp walls and fungal growth.

If you’re using a refrigerator(mostly the single-door ones) that requires manual defrosting, then do not forget to de-ice and empty the drip pan at regular intervals. Standing water in a receptacle can lead to further condensation and damp in the adjacent walls.

Dislodged condense pipe

If the refrigerator is one that does not require manual defrosting then it could be that the condense pipe has somehow become dislodged. The condense pipe is a small-bore tube depositing water above the compressor. If the pipe is out of place, the water may just be dripping on the floor or wall causing damp over time.

Ice build-up

Ice build-up is another major cause for the non-functionality of the refrigerator. If this occurs at a high rate, it can cause blockage of the drain pipe and eventually lead to the accumulation of water. This calls for regular and proper maintenance of refrigerator so that the common condensation problems can be avoided.

Condensation against a cold spot in the wall

Refrigerators give off heat at the back. There could be a cold spot on the wall that is right behind the refrigerator where this heat is directly going to and getting condensed. Cold spots are common in all buildings – old or new. Perhaps you should move your refrigerator from the area for a while to dry out the watery spots and see what happens.

How risky can damp be in the kitchen wall? – Forget aesthetics, damp in the kitchen wall, or for that matter in any part of the house, can be a formidable health risk. Don’t believe? Read it here. Moreover, nearness of a damp patch to an appliance and circuitry can also increase the risk of electrical hazards.

How to avoid damp-induced risks originating from a refrigerator?

‘Precaution’ is the keyword. Most of the problems related to refrigerator leakage and damp are the fallout of bad handling. So, you must be careful about using it the way explained in the manual. If that sounds like asking for too much, here are a few tips on how to use a refrigerator properly:

  • To avoid any water accumulation due to ice build-up or condensation problems, it is advised to reduce the number of times you open and shut the door of a refrigerator.
  • The number of stored food items must be reduced, so that the refrigerator can work at its optimum conditions without too much workload.
  • When putting a food-filled container inside, you must check that the temperature of the container is within low to room temperature range, and never too high.
  • Maintain the level of the refrigerator by adjusting the front and back screws of the platform on which it stands. The refrigerator  should not touch the floor.
  • Make sure the temperature of the refrigerator is set between 0-5°C, the door closes properly and the rubber gasket is not damaged.
  • Conduct cleaning and maintenance of refrigerator3 inside-out, at least once every 6 months. Check for dust build-up, leaking pipes and broken waterline.
  • Defrost your single-door refrigerator and empty the drip pan regularly.
  • Move the refrigerator away from the wall so that no leakage, no condensation can affect it directly.
  • Additionally, ventilation in all rooms is of utmost importance. Open the windows of your home when not using an AC or use a dehumidifier to control the indoor humidity.

Damp walls are a nuisance, especially when they become a stubborn one. Keep an eye on every corner of your home to trace them at the earliest stage. Take control and fight the damp away. However, a successful damp removal is possible only if you know its source. As earlier mentioned, professionals who are expert in detecting the source of the leakage causing damp in the kitchen wall, even if it is a refrigerator, locates the cold spots in your home, if any, and advises you on the right placement of your appliances if required or will suggest if you need to call service engineer for repair or servicing.