Fix Whirlpool/Maytag Fridge Ice Buildup

Whirlpool Fridge Ice BuildupLast year we bought a shiny new Whirlpool fridge, french-door style with the bottom freezer. Eight short months later, water started leaking out the bottom of the freezer & pooling onto the floor. Apparently it had been leaking for awhile because when I pulled the fridge out, I found the water had been draining toward the back wall, quietly warping our hardwood floor. We don’t have the icemaker hooked up so it was definitely a defrost problem, caused by a little drain grommet. Thanks for nothing, Whirlpool.

Fixing the drain is easy & takes about an hour, although that’s mostly time spent watching ice melt during which you should eat all your ice cream. It’s probably 20 minutes of actual work. Here’s how to fix it — you’ll need a 1/4″ nut driver & a flat-head screwdriver. All the screws on my fridge had the slot in the top, so you could do it all with just the screwdriver.

Step 1: Don’t kill yourself. Unplug the fridge. You can wait until later but don’t forget.

Freezer DoorStep 2: Freezer door. It’s 4 screws, one in each corner. Just loosen them a few turns — don’t take the screws out entirely — it’s much easier putting the door back on when the screws are already in place. The door slides up & off.

Step 3: Lower basket. It lifts out, no tools required. Now’s a good time to start eating all your ice cream.

Drawer ScrewsStep 4: Upper basket. Remove the 2 screws at the front of the rails, then lift up the rails slightly on each side, to slide the basket forward.

Drawer Gear On the plastic pieces at the back sides of the upper basket, push in two tabs with your screwdriver on each piece & pop them up. This will let the upper basket slide out off the rails.

IcemakerStep 5: Icemaker. Remove the lower screw, then loosen or remove the two screws above the icemaker. Unplug the wire harness where it passes through the rear panel — squeeze the sides of the plug & pull. Lift the icemaker up & out. The water tube will slide out of the guide.

Center GuardThermostat GuardStep 6: Plastic guards. The thermostat guard is the skinny piece to the upper right. Push in (to the right) the tab on the left side in the middle. The guard opens like a door pivoting on the right edge, & pulls out.

The center fan guard has two tabs at the top on each end that push in toward the center, & another tab in the middle at the bottom of the guard that pops up.

Rear PlateStep 7: Freezer panel. Remove the 4 screws in each corner. Push the thermostat back through the slot at the top, & also push the icemaker plug back through its slot.

FAST/HARD WAY: Pull carefully up & out from the top middle edge. Be careful because that sucker is SHARP! The back panel will bend vertically in the middle as you remove it, but it’s flexible & will pop back into shape.

SLOW/EASY WAY: If you don’t like bending the panel around the drawer slides, you can take off the slides. The metal rails have tabs that push in to release the whole slide assembly, which pulls out forward. You only need to take the rail housings off one side — when you go to remove the rear panel, just pull that side first. To release the upper section (that you already unscrewed in Step 4), left it up, bend in & pull out — the back end has a tab through the freezer wall. The lower plastic slide housing unscrews with 4 screws.

Whirlpool Ice Buildup

Step 8: Ice Dam. By now you should see the ice problem. Typically the entire evaporator tray is completely iced, along with some of the tubing. MELT IT ALL. Warm water applied with a turkey baster works well. Be careful not to puncture the coils because … that will ruin your fridge.

Do all the ice melting while the drain is still plugged so it runs out into the freezer floor where you can sponge it up. If the meltwater goes out through the drain hole, it can flood the pan under the fridge — no big deal, just dirtier water & more mess.

Drain HoleThe drain hole is near the front of the rear tray┬áin the middle. It’s pretty wide (1/2″) & short, only ~2 inches long. It goes straight down into a rubber “duck bill” grommet that’s probably plugged up with gunk, that you access from the back of the fridge…

Rear PanelDrain GrommetStep 9: Drain grommet. Pull out the fridge so you can access the back side. Remove the screws (6?) around the lower access panel, pop the power cord up & tilt the panel out of the way. The plastic tray under the fan is the evaporator tray — that’s where the water SHOULD normally be dripping into & evaporating from.

Behind (technically in front of) the fan, there’s a black drain slide into the tray that leads up to your plugged drain. Push the slide aside to see the drain. There’s a rubber “duck bill” grommet on the end. Pull it off & clean it — it’s no doubt plugged with gunk. Better yet, trim the opening very slightly so the hole is larger — see this site for photos.

Step 10: Put it all back together. Some tips: if you lived hard/fast & didn’t remove the rails & rail housing, getting the freezer panel back in place can be a bitch. Make sure you slide the tray rails all the way out before you start trying to put the rear panel back. Bend the panel vertically along the middle so it springs back into place on each side. Again, wear gloves. Once it’s in place, don’t forget to run the thermostat wire & icemaker tube/plug out.

When you put the the top tray back, make sure it’s all the way to the front before you pop the plastic pieces on each side back down, so the gears on each side are aligned in matching grooves. Otherwise your drawer will be crooked & probably won’t slide.

Hope this helps. I have a Whirlpool GX2FGDXVY but these steps work on other models too including Maytag etc.

Here is an excellent video of this entire process.

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12 Responses to Fix Whirlpool/Maytag Fridge Ice Buildup

  1. Alan says:

    Thank you for the write up on this. Our Whirlpool Gold w/ bottom freezer (GB2FHDXWB01) suffers from the same frost buildup in the freezer. Additionally, the vents up to the fridge compartment get iced up, causing it to not be cool. Defrosting brings relief, but it’s needed more and more frequently. I opened the back panel to check the duck bill. We have the slide that leads down to the tray (dry), but unfortunately the rubber duck bill is not present where it should be. Other than a Sears repairman a couple years back (for a sheet of ice problem in the freezer), nobody’s ever been inside the back. Any suggestions? Is there a way to get a replacement part?
    Thanks,
    Alan

    • Wick says:

      Definitely sounds like a drain problem. I’d bite the bullet & remove the freezer drawers & evaporator cover, let all the ice melt & make sure you can dump water on the evaporator pan & watch it pour out the drain into the drip tray. I pulled up a parts schematic & I’m not positive but looks like your model might have a funnel drain. Either that or the repairman might have pulled off the duckbill drain entirely which isn’t good because every time you open the fridge door, it sucks warm air into the evaporator compartment (causes lots of condensation in the worst possible area). Another thing that can cause condensation problems are bad door seals. But regardless as long as the drain is clear, the condensation should be able to drain out. You can get parts from SearsPartsDirect.com although once you get the part number, I’d Google it because a lot of the time you can get parts cheaper from other places… Good luck.

      • Wick says:

        One more note – for months before I finally fixed my fridge, I tried defrosting without taking the time to remove the evaporator cover (the panel inside the freezer, way in back). I was letting the visible ice melt, but turned out behind the panel was MUCH more ice. So I wasn’t really fixing the whole problem & within a week or two, the ice problem would be back.

        In the end after I finally took the time to remove the panel, it took about an hour to melt all the ice that had built up behind the panel & that was with the hot water turkey baster trick, using a hair dryer etc.

        Without removing the panel the ice would probably have taken a full day or two to melt on its own, sitting in the insulated compartment without air circulation. And also without removing the panel there’s no good way to test if the drain is really unplugged.

        • Alan says:

          Thank you for the feedback and suggestions. I have ordered Whirlpool’s P-trap kit, which is supposed to remedy the issue with the (missing) duck bill drainage issue. I’ll be doing a full defrost of the fridge when I put it in, to hopefully start with a clean slate.

  2. Dan in Brighton says:

    Thanks so much for this; the dis-assembly instructions were very helpful. And, wow, that duck bill is a lousy design! Whirlpool apparently agrees, because there’s now a FREE REPAIR, parts & labor, offered by Whirlpool, up to 2 years after purchase. After 2 years, you can get the part for free. It’s the “P Trap” drain tube kit that Alan mentions above.

    Here’s a copy of the tech bulletin:
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BzIiBNwRIV4NNWJNNmx0andROGs/edit

    There’s a long list of models covered. My guess: anything with that duck bill. (Mine was a EB9SHKXVQ07) In fairness, how could we expect Whirlpool to guess that a soft black-rubber part, located next to the compressor, would deteriorate and get sticky?

    In case you can’t find that document via the above URL, here’s the highlights:

    Technical Service Pointer #: W10632338A
    Order and install kit part number W10619951.

    Note: Whirlpool will pay for repair parts and labor to perform this repair up to 2
    years from the Date of Purchase. Whirlpool will supply repair parts through the
    normal Parts distribution channel at no cost to the consumer for this repair on all
    units that are beyond 2 years from the date of purchase.

    • Wick says:

      Great info, thank you!! Seems like my model isn’t on that list so I went with the cut-a-notch-in-the-duckbill method. We’ll see if that does the trick.

  3. Hannah614 says:

    You Rock!! I will remain eternally grateful, so long as my fridge doesn’t explode in the next few days (I did just take apart the entire freezer based on internet instructions!).

    One question though – my fridge fan is blowing again (yay!!), but not very hard. I guess I’ve never taken the time to feel the fan before – is it supposed to be blowing just a little bit? The freezer is at full force, so I guess I’m paranoid that it’s blowing so much softer.

    I can’t pull the fridge out by myself, so I can’t fix the duckbill in the back yet. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some help over here before it frosts over again :-(

    • Wick says:

      Hmm good question. The evaporator fan (under the rear of the fridge, blows out the vents in back) should move a pretty good amount of air. But if you mean the fan that circulates air inside the fridge, that’s probably normal if it’s not blowing air that strongly… I think?

  4. G in WA says:

    Wick! Thank you! Your instructions came in very handy as I just completed this whole process this afternoon and now my Maytag fridge, or rather freezer, is no longer like my dog after he drinks too much (at least my fridge always went in one spot:) Anyway great instructions and pics and greatly appreciate the fact that you took the time to post this. For everyone, my duckbill was indeed nasty and sticky so here is how I ensured its continued use: 1. washed it with hand soap under a running faucet 2. Washed again the same way with dish detergent but this time utilized a paper towel to clean the gunk off on the inside and the outside. And 3. Sprayed the inside with a little Lithium grease then wiped it down with a paper towel (inside and out). My result was a duckbill that looked and felt like a brand new part. Hope this helps and once agagin Wick – THANKS!!!!!!!

    • Wick says:

      Cool, you’re welcome! I did all that except for the grease, but last month the ice started all over again, about ~9 months after I fixed & wrote this post about it… same thing as last time, the duckbill was full of gunk. This time I notched the duckbill… I’d mentioned that as a possible fix but I hadn’t actually done it, we’ll see if that does the trick, I’ll know by next summer :) Hope you have better luck.

  5. Doug Hoskins says:

    Thanks so much for the video. It is awesome. One question though, when I put it all back together, the freezer drawer will come out unevenly. If I pull on the right side of the handle then the right side will come out first and the same for the left side. If I pull on the middle then it will come out evenly. What can I do to fix this?
    Thanks

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