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How To Fix A Refrigerator That Is Not Cooling?

Refrigerator Repair

Refrigerator Repair

There are many appliances that are essential for a well-functioning kitchen. However, some are easier to trouble-shoot than others. If your refrigerator isn’t cooling, this is a major problem. It doesn’t take more than a day or so for your entire stock of perishable foods to spoil. This costs money and is a huge hassle. Because of this, you need to know how to fix a refrigerator that is not cooling. This is one of the most common malfunctions of a refrigerator. By going through this trouble-shooting process, you may actually determine that you can fix the problem without calling in a repair person and incurring undue expenses.

Start With the Basics

Before you start taking apart the refrigerator and removing parts, you should check the more obvious reasons for why the refrigerator may not be cooling. These include things like seals and gaskets. If you shut the door and the light stays on, it’s a fairly good bet that the cool air is escaping through the door. Another indication of a seal problem is being able to visibly detect things like cracks or rips in the seals. Seals are inexpensive to replace, and the installation process is fairly straightforward. Also, if the freezer compartment is quite cool, and the fan is obviously blowing, check the regulator that directs cool air to the fridge. These are problems that should not require professional intervention.

Look at the Fan

Another common problem when a refrigerator is not cooling is the fan. The fan is what directs the cooled air to the various parts of the refrigerator. Usually, extremely cold air is deposited into the freezer compartment; as the fridge section needs more cooling, the air is directed to that compartment via a simple fan. When the fan malfunctions, the cold air can not move around the unit as intended, leading to a fridge that is not cooling properly.

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Fans can malfunction for several reasons. In some instances, it could be that there is ice stuck in the fan blades. In order to test for this, defrost the refrigerator. If the fan starts running normally, you are in luck. If not, the resulting torque has probably blown the motor and the fan will need to be replaced. Replacing a fan is quite simple. Be sure that you have your model number on hand to ensure that the correct part is ordered. Also, while waiting for the part, you may be able to protect perishables, such as milk, in the freezer compartment. Without the fan, it will stay warmer than the freezer is supposed to be, but cooler than the fridge area.

Once you receive the fan, locate the area where the old fan is installed- generally it is behind a panel at the back of the freezer compartment. Unplug the entire refrigerator so that no electricity is present. Remove the panel covering the fan, remembering how it was placed. Unscrew the old motor and fan and install the new one. Replace the back panel and plug the unit back in. This is a simple repair that you can accomplish on your own.

Check Cooling Components

If changing the fan does not fix the refrigerator, you might have a bigger problem. Things like coils can become clogged. In some instances, the actual cooling unit malfunctions, wears out or runs out of coolant. To determine if there is a cooling problem, locate the area where the coolant is activated; this is usually on the back of the refrigerator. You should be able to put your hand on that area and feel whether it is cooling down as your fridge cycles on and off. If the coils are cooling, than another problem is likely. If you don’t feel any cooling, look at your manual to ensure that you are assessing the right area. It is not recommended that you attempt to repair the cooling portion of the fridge. In this instance, professional assistance is advisable.

Neil

Neil Wardlow has been writing professionally since 1989. Neil discovered he enjoyed writing when he suffered an injury during his 15-year building construction career. Neil now writes full-time, whenever he’s not occupied with entertaining family and friends, growing things, or making repairs in and around his beautiful ranch house.



  • Me

    um….where’s the fan? lol

  • PennyV

    Me, your owner’s manual or the manufacturer should be able to provide you with a schematic that shows the location of the fan. However, this video gives a lot of useful information on how to troubleshoot a refrigerator that’s not cooling properly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sylSVZKGB9Ie .

  • khan

    hi we have a whirlpool fridge. since this morning the fridge is not cooling bu the freezer is fine. i defrosted the unit and cleaned all the ice but did not work. the fan might be gone. could you plz advice.

  • PennyV

    Khan, you didn’t mention what model of Whirlpool you have, but I did find this site that may be able to help you out with your problem: http://www.justanswer.com/appliance/5t7lq-fridge-does-not-cool-freezer-works-fine-whirlpool-model-gb2fhdxwq00.html. If you don’t get your answer there, then let me know and I’ll try to find another solution for you.

  • sarah

    HELP! My Magic chef refrigerator CTB1925GRQ is not getting cold. Fridge or freezer. It blows air but not cold. I also hear a click then a buzzing sound for a few minutes coming from the freezer. Then it stops and repeats.

  • PennyV

    Sarah, I found this refrigerator repair site that may be able to help you solve your problems. They have a video and troubleshooting article that might help you out. They also sell the parts you may need and have a live chat option available. The link to this site is: http://www.repairclinic.com/RepairHelp/How-To-Fix-A-Refrigerator/51-104-563227-/Magic-Chef-Refrigerator-not-cold-enough-CTB1925GRQ

  • cipher101

    I have a Kenmore fridge with freezer on top part. It is not cold enough to freeze on top part although its cold. Bottom part is cold.
    Fridge is staying on all the time. I turned the knob on defrost timer and put it on defrost and after 20min it started running, but same thing; stays on all time and not cold enough to freeze on freezer.
    Blade is spinning fine, I opened back panel of freezer and there was no ice nor frost (well maybe a little ice on right side)
    I turned thermostat to 0 and fridge stops working, I move up up and it starts working as described above – not cold enough and never stopping.

    Any ideas?
    Help please

  • PennyV

    Cipher 101, you did not tell us the exact model number of your Kenmore fridge or say whether you’ve checked the troubleshooting guide section of the owner’s manual. Therefore, I can’t give you a direct response. But I have found this website that may be able to help you out, since it gives help for several types of Kenmore models: http://www.fixya.com/support/kenmore/refrigerators. Good luck!

  • Guest

    Help!!!My fridge

  • lol

    Help!!yesterday I’m trying to turn the small button to the coolest and i didn’t realize i put them on the run test….and this morning i found out my fridge is not cooling but the freezer is fine. please tell me what to do…

  • Steven

    I bought a Frigidair side by side from my friend 5 year ago when his house was foreclosed.So , the fridge has not been used since I got it. Now I plugged it in , but it wasn’t cold enough on either side, (just little colder at bottom on both sides). I hear the fan and every thing is running well. So what is going on?

  • PennyV

    Since you did not specify what model and make of refrigerator you have, I cannot give any specific advice. But I have found this website that gives general troubleshooting and repair guidelines for refrigerators that may be of help to you. Good luck with your refrigerator: Here’s the link: http://www.repairclinic.com/RepairHelp/How-To-Fix-A-Refrigerator/58—/Refrigerator-freezer-is-cold-but-refrigerator-is-warm

  • PennyV

    Steven, you did not say what model your Frigidaire is, but I found this site that may be able to help you find your answers. Since it hasn’t been used for so long, it may have worn out seals/gaskets around the doors and/or a dirty/damaged condenser. Or perhaps a mouse or pack rat has eaten through some of the wiring. Here’s the link to the site I previously mentioned: http://www.managemylife.com/mmh/owner_manuals/4657/FRIGIDAIRE-Side-by-Side-Refrigerator-L0112090

  • adik

    HI,I’ve not used my samsung fridge,model no. RT21MHBB for close to a year and today when i tried to use it,both the freezer and compartments below not cold. but could hear the fan running…what do i do?pls help.many thks.

  • PennyV

    Adik,I hope you are able to get your fridge working properly. According to this Samsung,
    http://www.samsung.com/my/support/troubleshootingguides/supportTroubleShootingGuidesMain.do it could be the power cord, the temperature settings, from using an extension cord or double adapters, or from having the refrigerator too close to a heat source, such as a window or direct sunlight. The only other suggestion it makes is that the fridge may be too close to the wall. My suggestion is to pull it away from the wall and make sure the back and insides of the fridge are thoroughly cleaned.

  • leisa

    i have a whirlpool side by side 3 years old the freezer is too cold the icebox not cold enough help please i hear it running

  • INORRIS

    My freezer is working fine but the fridge is not cooling. What should I do. I’m gonna start by replacind the seals because they look to be worn out.

  • PennyV

    Leisa, you did not include the make and model number of your Whirlpool side by side, so I couldn’t find any specific information for you online. However, if you visit this official Whirlpool site (http://www.whirlpool.com/manuals), you may be able to download a troubleshooting guide or chat with one of the Whirlpool representatives to get ideas on how to repair your appliance. It could be anything ranging from the way the food has been stored, compressors or fans not working properly or worn out compartment seals.

  • PennyV

    INORRIS, you didn’t mention the exact make and model of your appliance, but this article on The Family Handyman site may help you with your troubleshooting: http://www.familyhandyman.com/appliance-repair/refrigerator-repair/fix-refrigerator-problems/view-all

  • PennyV

    Thanks for sharing this video on how to test the compressor with a multimeter, disqus_I6QiBSHSh4 . Now all we laypersons need to know is where the refrigerator compressor is located!

  • Kerimil

    not sure if that was irony… you can never be sure these days :-D the compressor is on the back of the fridge

  • PennyV

    Thank you for telling me where the compressor is, Kerimil. I assure you that I wasn’t being ironic. Many people have no idea what or where the various parts of a refrigerator are, despite all the wonderful opportunities to learn about this great appliance that we tend to take for granted nowadays.

  • GRANADA

    i HAVE A WHIRLPOOL refridgerator sxs model # ed22cqxhw01 that nothing happens no cooling no fans lights are on in the compartments so their is power. Can you please help diagnose problem

  • PennyV

    Granada, you haven’t stated what you have already tried doing to resolve the problem. Have you followed all the steps that Neil has suggested in this article? If you have tried all these steps, then you may want to visit this site and ask one of their online experts to help you diagnose the problem. They do ask for at least a $30 donation if you are 100% satisfied with the answers they give you though. Here’s the link:
    http://www.justanswer.com/

  • amatuerdiy

    Not sure of model but fridge is really old. Freezer is working just fine and freezes like a champ but fridge is barely cooling and was leaking water before it started giving a problem cooling. Any suggestions?

  • PennyV

    Amaturediy, since you do not know the model and did not give the brand of refrigerator, I can only suggest that you follow all the basic steps that Neil mentioned. You can also try to get more information by going to this site: http://www.repairclinic.com/RepairHelp/How-To-Fix-A-Refrigerator/58—/Refrigerator-freezer-is-cold-but-refrigerator-is-warm

  • Anna

    Hi,
    We tried to fix the fridge, but it is very old and not energy efficient. Can anyone recommend a good brand for the bottom drawer freezer. Looking for something very simple.
    Any help is appreciated.
    Anna.

  • Anna

    Hi Penny,

    Funny, our fridge is leaking, so we stuffed the holes where the water was coming from…than I watched the video. So, we basically put the freezer temp to max and plugged the vent to distribute the cold air to the refrigerator…
    thanks for sharing the video.
    Anna.

  • PennyV

    Hi, Anna! We haven’t tried any of the bottom drawer freezers yet, so I can’t give you any of my own opinions. However, here is the link to the consumer report website, where other people have given some reviews: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/feed-resources/power-reviews/pwr/product-reviews/Refrigerators-Bottom-freezers/GE/p/263__99019232-Profile-PGSS5PJX-SS.html

  • PennyV

    Hi, Anna!
    I’m glad the video helped you out!

  • marita

    Hi, I have Frigidaire FRE216A. I bought it as used. When I got it home I noticed that the fuse was gone, and the fridge was not in use for some time earlier as I know. I put the right fuse there and switched it on. The fridge started to work right away, the bottom of it which is the freezer – works perfect, is very cold and keeps -25 to -20C as I measured. But the upper part, the fridge keeps +13 to +18 and is getting warmer and warmer. The sounds seem to be OK, I heard the fan working I think , though I can’t see much as the rear of the fridge is covered with the plastic wall. What can it be and can I repair it myself? Thanks