A broken fridge is like a ticking time bomb. You only have about 4 hours before the refrigerator loses its temperature. It’s bad enough if you have a power outage, but at least you know the power will come back eventually.
If you’ve noticed your refrigerator not cooling, frost building up in your freezer or you’re hearing a strange noise coming from the kitchen, you might have a serious problem on your hands.
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Refrigerator Not Cooling? What to Do
Unless you’re an electrician or have experience with appliance repair you’ll probably be left staring at your fridge stumped when it isn’t working right. You may need to call in a professional repair service, but there are a few things you can do to take care of it yourself (or at least narrow down the problem).
Protect Your Food
The cost of a broken appliance is already enough of a headache, you don’t want to add the cost of spoiled food onto that. A fridge not cooling your food means that any perishables will expire much sooner. It can also cause a serious kitchen mess which nobody enjoys cleaning up.
You want to limit how much time the fridge door is open. You may be tempted to look inside for signs of damage or malfunction, but unless you know exactly what you’re looking for you’re better off keeping your food cold.
Bundle cold items together and if your freezer is still working consider transferring items like raw meat to the freezer for the time being.
Know When to Call in Help
Anytime you’re dealing with an electronic appliance you want to be very cautious. Tampering with it yourself can cause more issues which you may not be able to afford to repair and you can even harm yourself if you don’t know which precautions to take.
7 Typical Reasons Why Your Fridge Needs Repair
Let’s take a look at the typical reasons behind a fridge and freezer not cooling. These will help you identify the problem, repair it if it’s simple, or confirm that you need a repair professional.
1. Door Seal
Usually caused by wear and tear associated with opening and closing the refrigerator, the door seal can eventually stop forming a tight seal. This causes the fridge to not be able to hold the right temperature.
A screwdriver and some soap and water may be able to fix this for you. Loosen the screws around the seal and remove it. Clean it with dish soap and warm water and put it back on the door.
2. Condenser Coils
Another problem related to the build-up of dirt and grime is the coils on your fridge not working properly. While you can clean these, you’ll want to follow a safety precaution first.
Unplug the refrigerator before doing anything with the coils. If the coils are on the bottom of the fridge you’ll want to call a professional, otherwise, if they’re on the back you can try cleaning them of any visible dirt and check to see if that fixes your problem.
3. Water Leaking
If water is leaking from your refrigerator, it can be a symptom of a few different problems. You’ll want to clean up the water and find the problem as soon as possible to prevent any dangerous slips on the puddle.
One common reason for leaking water is a clogged drain from your freezer. Find the drain line that runs from the back of the freezer and any obvious clogs. Clean it out with water or with something like a pipe cleaner or slender brush. This may be a good time to do a full clean of your refrigerator.
If this isn’t the problem, you’ll want to check your ice maker or water dispenser. Look for any signs of damage on the water lines around these areas. Unplug the refrigerator if you have to reach into any small areas or remove panels.
If there is damage to the water lines this is a repair for a professional.
4. Frost Buildup
If your ice machine isn’t working anymore, there is a chance that a simple fix is all that’s needed to get it going. Your ice maker uses a door that closes when ice isn’t dispensing. This door keeps moisture out and prevents frost.
If the seal around the door gets dirty or becomes cracked, it will need to be addressed. You can diagnose this problem pretty easily and if cleaning doesn’t resolve your problem, then you may want to contact a professional for a replacement part.
If your fridge is making strange noises and doesn’t seem to be getting cold enough anymore, it could be the evaporator. The evaporator keeps air circulating through the fridge and keeps that air cool.
If the coils themselves have frozen then you’ll want to defrost your fridge. You can manually do this or if your refrigerator has the option, use the automatic defroster function.
If this doesn’t solve your problem then you may have a bad evaporator fan. This type of issue will require professional repair. Learn more about refrigerator repair in your area.
The thermistor is what controls the cycles in your refrigerator. A fridge not cooling at the right times or not cooling enough could point to a faulty thermistor.
If this part needs to be replaced you are better off contacting a repair company. The part and labor required are most likely too complex for an untrained person.
7. Start Relay
If you hear knocking coming from your fridge, your condenser may be going out or the start relay could be faulty. This is a tricky issue and one you should be careful about diagnosing yourself.
The condenser can be very hot and you shouldn’t tamper with it. If it sounds like your condenser isn’t running or is knocking when it is running then contact a repair service immediately.
Hopefully, you’re able to repair your refrigerator not cooling with a simple solution and it doesn’t ruin your day or weekend.
If you weren’t able to, the good news is that a professional can usually get your refrigerator up and running in no time. If this was useful and you want to do some more improvements around your house, check out these great home guides.