Why does my refrigerator no longer cool?

Why-does-my-refrigerator-no-longer-coolNothing can ruin a summer faster than a refrigerator that is no longer cooling. If your refrigerator feels warm or the temperature indicator lets you know that your refrigerator is warmer than it should be, here are a few thing to do in order to fix it yourself.

Before attempting to work on any appliance, make sure that all power (electricity) and utilities (water and gas) have been turned off and/or disconnected on the appliance. Read more

Clean the condensor coils

Check the condensor coils on the bottom or back of your refrigerator. Depending on your refrigerator’s model, these coils could be located at the back of your refrigerator or underneath covered by a toe or kick plate. You may need to pull out your fridge and access it from behind to reach the coils.

These coils help cool and condense the refrigerant. Overtime, the coils can become coated with pet hair, dust and dirt which prevent them from releasing heat efficiently. Use a coil cleaning brush and vacuum to remove any buildup on your coils and see if it helps cool your refrigerator.

Sometimes there is a fan that helps blow air over the coils. Make sure it’s clean too and working properly.

Check for heavy frost build-up on the evaporator coils

This will require removing the panel inside your freezer to visually inspect, but another indication is frost buildup on the inside of your freezer walls and ceiling. This can indicate a problem with a part of the self-defrosting system or possibly your door gasket. You can try manually defrosting your freezer (unplug your refrigerator and make sure you have towels on hand to soak up water from thawing frost) and plugging it back in again to see if it reaches its proper temperature. However, you might still have to deal with replacing a defective part if the frost build-up comes back.

Check the gasket

The gasket is the seal surrounding your refrigerator and freezer door that helps keep the cool air in when your doors are shut. Broken, cracked or sagging gaskets are letting in warm air and humidity and could be the cause of your warm refrigerator. Consider replacing your refrigerator or freezer gasket.

Check the freezer (damper vents)

Cold air is made in your freezer and sent down to your refrigerator through the vents. A packed freezer can block or close vents. Make sure there’s enough room around the vents to allow proper air circulation.

Check and replace the defrost timer, defrost heater or termination thermostat (switch)

A frost-free, auto-defrost refrigerator system is made up of defrost timer, defrost heater and termination thermostat (switch). The timer kicks the defrost heater on which melts ice on the evaporator coils. Otherwise ice would continually buildup on the coiling coil, thereby reducing air flow. Sometimes the defrost timer can fail and never switch from defrost mode back too cooling.  The defrost heater can also fail and never fully defrost the cooling coil, leading to a plugged cooling coil.

The defrost termination thermostat opens when it senses a set temperature, turning the defrost heater on and off. It too can fail. A sign of a bad or failing thermostat are cycles of extreme thawing and freezing-temperatures in your freezer. You can do this simple test to see if your thermostat is working properly.

Other parts that could be causing a warm refrigerator include problems with the compressor, start capacitor, thermistor, start relay and main control board.


One thought on “Why does my refrigerator no longer cool?

  1. My fridge does have frost build up all over the fridge. I’ve been tempted to have someone come and fix it for me because I’m not quite sure what the issue is with my fridge. Hopefully it isn’t something too serious and we can get if fixed asap.

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