Common Reasons Your Refrigerator Won’t Cool

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It’s not uncommon to find your refrigerator not cooling properly, especially during the hot months. If you’re trying to figure out why your refrigerator won’t cool, checking some of the most frequent causes may save you time and money. Minor problems can often be resolved by replacing simple parts.

Top 5 Reasons a Refrigerator Won’t Cool

Troubleshoot the following to help determine if you can find an easy fix, or if you need to call a service professional.

Temperature Control Thermostat

The temperature control thermostat powers the compressor, evaporator fan motor, and condenser fan motor (if applicable). If the temperature control thermostat is not working properly, you may find the refrigerator won’t cool down. To determine if the thermostat is defective, rotate the thermostat from the lowest setting to the highest setting and listen for a click. If the thermostat clicks, it is probably fine. If the thermostat does not click, you’ll want to investigate further. Use a multimeter to test the thermostat for continuity. If the multimeter indicates the thermostat is not working correctly at any setting, replace it.

Condenser Fan

The condenser fan draws air through the condenser coils and over the compressor. The refrigerator won’t cool properly if this process doesn’t take place. First, check the fan blade for obstructions, making sure it’s free of debris. Next, try manually rotating the fan blade. If the blade does not spin freely, replace the condenser fan. If no obstructions are present and the fan blade spins freely, the final check would be to use a multimeter to determine if the fan will run continuously.  If the condenser fan motor does not have continuity, replace it.

Condenser Coils

The condenser coils dissipate heat as the refrigerant passes through them. Since the condenser coils are usually located under the refrigerator, it’s one of the components that require regular cleaning in order to maintain performance. When the condenser coils become dirty, they don’t expend the heat effectively, causing the refrigerator to work harder to cool down. If the coils are significantly dirty, the refrigerator will simply not be able to maintain the proper temperature. Check the condenser coils—if they are dirty, use a fresh rag to clean them.

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Evaporator Fan Motor

The evaporator fan motor directs air over the evaporator (cooling) coils and circulates it throughout the refrigerator and freezer compartments. Some refrigerators have more than one evaporator fan motor. Refrigerators with only one evaporator fan usually have it located in the freezer compartment. If the evaporator fan stops working, cold air will no longer flow to the refrigerator. So, while the freezer may still feel cold, the refrigerator will not continue to get cold. Locate the evaporator behind the refrigerator unit and try turning the fan blade by hand. A fan blade not turning freely, or the motor being unusually noisy or not running at all, would both be good indications that it’s time to replace the evaporator fan motor.

Start Capacitor

The start capacitor is responsible for powering the compressor, which initiates the cooling system. If you have a faulty start capacitor, the compressor may not start, resulting in a refrigerator not cooling. Test the capacitor with a multimeter to determine if it is running properly.  If there’s no continuity, replace it.

If you’re less inclined to troubleshoot your refrigerator on your own, a licensed refrigerator repair technician will have the knowledge and tools to save you the trouble.  Sometimes it’s less of a headache to just let a professional do what they do best.  Ultimately, if you decide that it’s time to say goodbye to the old fridge and start searching for a new one, you can get money for your old refrigerator to help pay for the new unit.

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