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How To Troubleshoot A Refrigerator Not Cooling

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A fridge not cooling is one of the most frustrating household problems because it can make all of the food you currently have go off and leave you without a way to store any more.

Your refrigerator isn’t necessarily a write-off if it has an issue with cooling, however. It might look as though it’s working fine – the light comes on, it’s still making that familiar soft humming noise – but there are a number of internal problems that could have led to the cooling mechanism failing.

Here are a few of the most common refrigerator faults so if your fridge isn’t cooling you can figure out if you need a fridge repair service or not. Make sure that you turn off your appliance anytime you’re investigating its internal components to stay safe!

 

Common Refrigerator Cooling Problems
Dirty condenser coils
Condenser coils are metal elements at the bottom of the back of your fridge and they’re there to release heat that builds up from the fridge’s energy use and keep it cool.

If your fridge’s condenser coils get dirty, however, they can stop the fridge from dissipating built up heat, creating issues with cooling. If you have fridge cooling problems, check that your condenser coils are clean. If they’re not, use a cleaning brush (they make coil cleaning brushes specifically for this purpose) and vacuum cleaner to get them clean.

Broken thermostat
A broken internal thermostat temperature control dial could mean that your fridges’ motors aren’t being told to cool the fridge accurately. You can check if your thermostat is broken or not by rotating the dial from the lowest setting to the highest and waiting for a click.

If there’s no click, you might be in need of a fridge repair. You can confirm whether this is the case or not by checking for electrical continuity with a multimeter.

Broken condenser fan motor
The condenser fan motor is responsible for pulling air through the condenser coils, but the fan motor can fail meaning that the coils can’t cool the fridge.

To troubleshoot a potentially broken condenser fan motor, check for any physical obstructions that could stop it spinning and try spinning the fan manually to see if the mechanism itself is broken.

If the fan spins, it could be an issue with electrical continuity which you can again check with a multimeter.

Faulty door seals
Defective fridge door seals can let the cold air from inside leak out, even when it looks like the door is closed. A popular method of checking if your fridge door seal is working or not is to close the door on a banknote and try to pull it out. If there’s no resistance and the note comes straight out into your hands, there’s likely a problem with your seal.

If your fridge seal is faulty, you can sometimes fix it simply by cleaning the dust and grime out. If that doesn’t work, it will need replacing.

Broken start relay
The start relay in a fridge helps to start the compressor which then compresses and circulates the refrigerant. If your fridge isn’t cooling, this could be the issue.

You can test whether your start relay is broken by checking for electrical continuity between the S and M terminals. If there’s no continuity then the start relay will need replacing.

Aside from cooling issues, a burnt odour coming from your fridge can indicate that the start relay is broken.

Fridge too full
One potential reason for a fridge that won’t cool that can often be overlooked is an overly full fridge. If there’s too much filling the fridge compartment, it can increase the temperature and prevent cool air from circulating properly.

Make sure that your fridge isn’t overloaded and keep your fridge well organised to help prevent this from happening.

Broken evaporator fan motor
The fan motor is responsible for circulating air around the fridge compartment is actually usually located in the freezer compartment of a fridge-freezer.

You can get an initial hint as to whether this is the issue with your fridge or not by checking if your freezer is at the right temperature while your fridge is struggling to cool. If the freezer is fine but the fridge is still too warm, your fault is probably with the evaporator fan motor.

You can confirm this by checking it in the same way as the condenser fan motor – inspect for lodged objects, try to spin it manually, and then check for electrical continuity.

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