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Refrigerator and Freezer Care

Problems with your refrigerator or freezer can cost more than most appliances, simply because of the food you could lose if it doesn't stay cool. As soon as you realize you need your refrigerator repaired, please take a look at our refrigerator maintenance troubleshooting tips.

Refrigerator Warm

  • Refrigerator not plugged in.
  • No voltage at outlet. Measure the voltage (usually 120v) at the outlet and make sure the circuit breaker is not tripped.
  • Excess lint built up on condenser. Brush (using a condenser brush) and vacuum as needed.
  • Condenser fan motor (the one underneath) not running. Make sure condenser fan motor is running. If not, replace it even if it starts running when you start it off by hand.
  • Defrost timer stuck in defrost mode. Advance timer and see if compressor starts. If compressor starts and temperature starts to pull down, replace the timer before your evaporator ices up.
  • Evaporator fan motor not running. Open your freezer and see if you hear the fan motor running (on some models you need to hold down the door switch to run the fan). If not, replace the fan motor.
  • Burned out defrost heater in freezer. Run continuity test on both ends of heater or energize heater and run amperage test. Defrost problems are usually indicated by excess buildup of frost on back wall or bottom of freezer compartment.
  • Open defrost thermostat. Run continuity test on defrost thermostat.
  • Cold control is open. Run continuity test (refrigerator unplugged) or place jumper wire across the two wires going to the cold control (refrigerator plugged in).
  • Compressor not starting. This is the dreaded "hummm...CLICK" sometimes heard when a compressor can't start.
  • Burned out start relay. Test the start relay for continuity. The newer solid state relays are especially bad for "frying" and thus not energizing the compressor motor's start winding. The older wire-wound start relays are more reliable but still subject to damage.
  • Compressor motor run or start winding open. Check for continuity in the compressor motor's start and run windings. These should measure on the order of single digit ohms with the start winding measuring slightly higher resistance.
  • Current leakage from compressor motor winding to ground. Measure the megaohm resistance from one of the motor winding terminals to ground. You need to use a special instrument called a megohommeter. Do not use a standard multi-meter for this test, even if it reads in the megaohm range, because it doesn't read high enough to tell you anything. A low megaohm reading means there is current leakage from the motor winding to ground, usually caused by the motor winding insulation having been burned off--the compressor must be replaced.
  • Problem in sealed system (leak, plugged capillary tube, noncondensibles). Usually not worth repairing, especially on lower end refrigerators.

Refrigerator Not Cold Enough

  • Complete the "Refrigerator Warm" checks.
  • Light stays on inside compartment. Replace light switch.
  • Door left ajar. Check door closing and product positioning.

Excessive Sweating in Fresh Food Compartment

  • Bad gaskets. Check for tight seal all the way around with the door closed.
  • Door left ajar. Check door closing and product positioning.

Excessive Frosting in Freezer

  • Faulty defrosting system. Check defrost timer, defrost heater, and defrost thermostat to locate faulty component.
  • Newer refrigerators may have an adaptive defrost control board instead of a defrost timer.
  • Evaporator fan motor not running. Open freezer door and see if you hear the fan motor running (on some models you need to hold down the door switch to run the fan). If not, replace the fan motor.

Refrigerator Leaks Water

  • Plugged defrost drain opening or drain hose. Locate the end of the drain hose that feeds the condensate drip pan underneath the refrigerator. If the drip pan is bone dry, it's a sure sign that the drain opening or drain hose is clogged. Trace the drain hose back to see where it pick of the condensate in the refrigerator cabinet. Inspect the drain opening or drip cup. In many cases, this drain port is plugged with ice or food debris. Occasionally, the obstruction will be in the drain tube itself. Test by blowing on one end of the drain tube. Air should flow freely. If not, a Black and Decker Inflator (powered by two Versapak batteries) properly connected to one end of the drain tube will clear the obstruction.
  • Bad gaskets. Check for tight seal all the way around with the door closed.