Why is oil leaking from my mini fridge? Is there a mechanical issue? How do I fix it? If you find yourself asking these questions, then this article is for you!
If oil is leaking from your mini fridge, you likely have an issue with the compressor. Oil is used to lubricate the compressor, which is the device that circulates the freon used to cool the appliance. If you have an oil leak in your mini fridge, you’ll probably want to call a technician, though you may be able to patch the leak with a sealant.
Read on to find a good general reference on why a mini fridge can leak oil, where it’s coming from, and what you can do to fix it.
Do mini fridges have oil in the system?
Mini fridges, like regular refrigerators, have a compressor that continuously circulates the freon (or refrigerant) that cools the fridge components. This compressor has oil in it.
The oil lubricates the compressor motor/pump to minimize wear and tear and keep the compressor motor running for the service life of the compressor.
If you find an oil leak coming from your mini fridge, it’s likely a result of a faulty compressor.
Can a mini fridge leak oil from the back?
Though the compressor is thoroughly sealed, should you have a hole in the casing, a crack, or a loose fitting, then some of the oil will leak. You’ll likely see a clear to brownish oily liquid on the floor, usually at the back of the fridge near the compressor area.
This is not a common issue, but it is certainly possible.
Is it normal for a mini fridge to leak oil (is it an issue)?
No, it is not normal.
You shouldn’t have oil leaking from a fridge or mini fridge. Should there be a leak, even a small leak, then there’s a fault with the refrigerator and that leakage needs to be urgently addressed.
Oil should at all times stay in the compressor, and any leaks mean that there is less oil available to lubricate the compressor, which affects its service life. Even just a few days of operating without enough lubricating oil in the compressor could cause serious damage to the appliance.
Why is oil leaking from my mini fridge?
The mini fridge compressor may leak oil because of the following:
- Wear and tear on the fridge piping
- Physical impact damaging fridge piping
Wear and tear on the fridge piping
Wear and tear over the years or poorly done pipe repair jobs can start leaking oil. No, we’re not talking about plumbing piping here. We’re talking about the system of metal tubing that connects the various pieces of the mini fridge system together.
Physical impact damaging fridge piping
Damage to the piping during transportation and installation of the mini fridge may also cause the oil leak.
Signs of an oil leaks from mini fridge
If there’s an oil leak in your mini fridge, you’ll usually notice one of two things:
There’ll be a pool or small drip of oil
There’ll be a pool of oil under the fridge, likely near the fridge compressor. If you wipe it dry, then notice another pool builds up over time; you have a leak.
The compressor will run noisily and overheat
The compressor may noisily and overheat, as there’s not enough oil to lubricate it. Lubrication minimizes friction and the build-up of heat as the compressor runs.
Why you should fix a mini fridge oil leak immediately
An oil leak from a fridge, once confirmed, should be fixed immediately. Loss of oil from the compressor can result in premature failure of the compressor. Shortage of oil leads to more friction and heat, which can affect the service life of compressor parts.
In addition, the mini-fridge may not be able to cool properly if the mini-fridge is low in oil.
How to fix a leaky mini fridge compressor
The first step is to confirm that it is really oil. It is possible that what you see on the floor – dark and viscous is not oil but could be:
- Dirty dark water from the fridge defrost when the evaporator pan overflows
- Moisture buildup in the fridge’s insulation seeping into the fridge from a cracked gasket
- A spilled liquid, such as soy sauce or balsamic vinegar, from inside the fridge.
One way to determine if the liquid is oil or not is by observing whether it flows like water, or if it’s more dense like oil. You can also observe the smell. Does it smell oily in nature, or does it smell like a food product?
If it is dirty dark water, it may be a damaged evaporator pan, drip pan, or drain pan that needs to be replaced or insulation that needs to be repaired. It could also be excess condensation on the condenser coil that drips down.
Or a fridge door left open with condensation building up on the inside of the fridge and dripping onto the floor.
You may also have cola or other food products seeping into the insulation and draining onto the flow when the evaporator pan is full, which can pass off as oily because of its dark, viscous nature!
If you’re able to rule out these other liquids, you’ll need to check if the fridge is cooling properly. Listen for clinking noises and ask yourself, “Is the compressor running smoothly?
If the liquid is oily, the fridge is not cooling properly, and it’s running noisily, then you probably have a damaged compressor with leaking that requires urgent and immediate attention.
Turn off the fridge
Switch off the mini fridge to avoid damage to the compressor. Inspect the compressor area to locate the source of the oil leak.
Clean up the leaky oil
Dry the oily patch and monitor if there is another leak of oil.
Diagnose the problem (if you can)
Once you locate the leak, in most cases, you’ll want to call a professional technician. Because of the nature of the resources you’ll need to fix the compressor, most people will either call a professional or simply purchase a new mini fridge.
Call a professional (if needed)
Depending on the extent of the failure and damage, fixing the oil leak may require one or more of the following a new compressor, oil refill, refrigerant, or heavy-duty sealant. I’d advise that you compare the repair costs first against buying a new one that comes with a warranty. Buying a new fridge might turn out to be the better deal.
Repair the leaking compressor
Should you choose to repair it, you’ll need to identify what’s causing the leak and whether or not the compressor is in good enough shape to remain in the machine. For tips on replacing the compressor, watch the video below.
As you’ll see, this is not a simple DIY fix. So if you aren’t very component in your mechanical skills, you may just want to purchase a new mini fridge.
How to check the fridge compressor oil level?
There is no oil level indicator on the fridge compressor. Pools of oil combined with an overheating and noisy compressor point to the loss of oil and the need to replenish and fix the oil leak from the compressor.
Basically, you won’t know your compressor is out of oil until it’s broken; there’s really no other way to determine the oil level.
Why is my refrigerator leaking a black sticky liquid?
Some mini fridges occasionally leak a black sticky tar-like liquid from under the front of the fridge or in the back or bottom that can be mistaken for oil at first glance.
It may not flow regularly, but every so often, you may notice a build-up of dark liquid near the front of the fridge.
Unlike oil, though, this sticky liquid may cause the door seals to the body of the fridge to stick, making it difficult to open the fridge.
This black or brown liquid leaking from fridge door is usually a result of excessive heat build-up in the fridge that then melts the insulation in the door to produce the oozy black liquid. You’ll want to be sure you differentiate this substance from oil, which should be more clear and free-flowing.
In this case, if your fridge is still under warranty, then getting a replacement is the best option.
In some cases, improving air circulation around the fridge by removing any items that may be covering the vents and increasing the spacing around the backs of the fridge tends to improve its cooling ability stopping the flow of the black oozy liquid.
Closing thoughts on a mini fridge that is leaking oil
If you see that your fridge is leaking an oil-like liquid, first confirm that it is oil. It is possible to have other leaks that might appear to be oil when they’re actually another substance.
If it is a confirmed oil leak, then it is a serious issue that requires immediate attention. It usually leads to overheating, loss of cooling ability, and damage to the fridge compressor.
What to do if your refrigerator is leaking freon?
To repair a freon leak, you’ll have to add additional freon and patch the whole. In most cases, it’s best to call a professional technician to fix this issue.
What to do if you have a fridge leaking water (clogged defrost drain)?
You’ll want to check the water supply line, as well as make sure none of the drains are blocked from the freezer or ice maker to find out what’s causing the leak.
What to do with oil leaking from fridge?
If you have clear oil leaking from the fridge, take a look at the compressor. It’s likely lubricant from your refrigerator compressor leaking oil.