How to Fix a Refrigerator That Is Not Cooling

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There are many potential causes of your refrigerator not cooling, including something simple like dirty condenser coils right through to something more complicated to fix, like a faulty compressor. In this guide, we are going to tell you how to check each potential cause and how you can fix it. 

Let’s start with the condenser coils.

How to check the condenser coils are clean

Your refrigerator has condenser coils at the back of the appliance that holds the refrigerant in its liquid form. When the coils become covered in dust or get frost built up on them, they will not be able to operate correctly, which will interfere with the operation of your fridge. 

The best way to safely check and, if necessary, clean the condenser coils is to:

  1. Unplug your refrigerator.
  2. Move it out from the wall to access the coils.
  3. If the coils have a cover, remove it.
  4. Once the cover is removed, check the coils to see if they are dirty or frosted over. 
  5. If the coils are dirty, clean them with a damp cloth. If frosted over, leave your fridge turned off for 30 minutes or so to let the ice melt, and then wipe them dry with a cloth.
  6. Once clean, reattach the cover over the coils and plug your fridge back into the power.
  7. If cleaning the coils hasn’t solved the problem, you will need to check the condenser fan to make sure it’s working.

How to check if the condenser fan works

If cleaning the condenser coils didn’t get your refrigerator working again, the next step is to check if the condenser fan is working. The main function of the condenser fan is to keep the coils cold. If it fails to do this, your refrigerator might stop cooling.

The best way to safely check and, if necessary, replace the condenser fan is to:

  1. Unplug your refrigerator.
  2. Locate the condenser fan unit.
  3. Remove the cover from the fan.
  4. Make sure nothing is obstructing the path of the fan. If you find anything obstructing it, remove the offending objects.
  5. Test the condenser fan motor with a multimeter. This can be done by disconnecting the wires to the motor and testing it to ensure it has continuity.
  6. If the fan motor doesn’t have continuity, the fan unit will need to be replaced. If the fan motor does have continuity, you can reattach the wires to the motor and then check the evaporator fan.
  7. If a new motor has been installed, check if your fridge can now operate correctly. If it still doesn’t cool properly, check the evaporator fan.

How to check if the evaporator fan works

The purpose of this fan is to circulate cold air from the freezer compartment into the main fridge compartment. When it stops working, your refrigerator will not be able to cool down to the right temperature. 

The best way to safely check and, if necessary, replace the evaporator fan is to:

  1. Unplug your refrigerator.
  2. Locate the evaporator fan unit (you can find it in the freezer compartment).
  3. Remove the cover from the fan.
  4. Make sure nothing is obstructing the path of the fan. If you find anything obstructing it, remove the offending objects.
  5. Test the evaporator fan motor with a multimeter. This can be done by disconnecting the wires to the motor and testing it to ensure it has continuity.
  6. If the fan motor doesn’t have continuity, the fan unit will need to be replaced. If the fan motor does have continuity, you can reattach the wires to the motor and then check the thermistor.
  7. If a new motor has been installed, check if your fridge can now operate correctly. If it still doesn’t cool properly, check the thermistor.

How to check if the thermistor works

The thermistor is a vital component in your refrigerator as it helps to ensure your appliance cools down to the correct temperature. It does this by monitoring the temperature, so the control board knows when the compressor needs to turn on and off. If it stops working as intended, your refrigerator will not cool.

The best way to safely check and, if necessary, replace the thermistor is to:

  1. Unplug your refrigerator.
  2. Locate the thermistor.
  3. Test the thermistor with a multimeter. This can be done by disconnecting the wires to the thermistor and testing it to ensure it has continuity.
  4. If the thermistor doesn’t have continuity, it will need to be replaced. If the thermistor does have continuity, you can reattach the wires to it and then check the start relay.
  5. If a new thermostat has been installed, check if your fridge can now operate correctly. If it still doesn’t cool properly, check the start relay.

How to check if the start relay works

The start relay assists the compressor to start up. Given the importance of the compressor to cooling your fridge, the start relay mustn’t be defective.

The best way to safely check and, if necessary, replace the start relay is to:

  1. Unplug your refrigerator.
  2. Locate the start relay.
  3. Test the start relay with a multimeter. This can be done by disconnecting the wires to the start relay and testing it to ensure it has continuity.
  4. If the start relay doesn’t have continuity, it will need to be replaced. If the start relay does have continuity, you can reattach the wires to it and then check the start capacitor.
  5. If a new start relay has been installed, check if your fridge can now operate correctly. If it still doesn’t cool properly, check the start capacitor.

Make sure the start capacitor works

The start capacitor also assists the compressor to start up. 

The best way to safely check and, if necessary, replace the start capacitor is to:

  1. Unplug your refrigerator.
  2. Locate the start capacitor.
  3. Test the start relay with a multimeter. This can be done by disconnecting the wires to the start capacitor and testing it to ensure it has continuity.
  4. If the start capacitor doesn’t have continuity, it will need to be replaced. If the start capacitor does have continuity, you can reattach the wires to it and then check the temperature control thermostat.
  5. If a new start capacitor has been installed, check if your fridge can now operate correctly. If it still doesn’t cool properly, check the temperature control thermostat.

How to check if the temperature control thermostat works

The temperature control thermostat also monitors the temperature in your refrigerator so that the control board knows when to turn the compressor on.

The best way to safely check and, if necessary, replace the temperature control thermostat is to:

  1. Unplug your refrigerator.
  2. Locate the temperature control thermostat.
  3. Once located, move the thermostat setting from high to low and listen for a click sound. If you can hear a clicking sound, this means it’s not defective, so you can move on to check the compressor. If you don’t hear a clicking sound, replace the thermostat.
  4. Once a new thermostat is installed, check if your fridge can now operate correctly. If it still doesn’t cool properly, check the compressor.

Make sure the compressor works

The compressor circulates the refrigerant through the condenser coils, which is how your appliance stays cool. Given the importance of the compressor, if it becomes defective, your appliance will essentially stop working completely.

The best way to safely check and, if necessary, replace the compressor is to:

  1. Unplug your refrigerator.
  2. Locate the compressor.
  3. Test the compressor with a multimeter. This can be done by disconnecting the wires to the compressor and testing it to ensure it has continuity.
  4. If the compressor doesn’t have continuity, it will need to be replaced. If the compressor does have continuity, you can reattach the wires to it. You will then have to consider replacing the main control board.
  5. If a new compressor has been installed, check if your fridge can now operate correctly. If it still doesn’t cool properly, your last option is to replace the main control board.

How to install a new main control board

Your final option is to replace the main control board in your refrigerator. However, there is no guarantee that this will make your refrigerator start working again properly, so you should get a technician to inspect your fridge or simply buy a brand-new appliance. To replace the main control board, you will need to get the correct replacement part and remove the old one before installing the new one.

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