Troubleshooting Refrigerator Problems

What to Do When the Light Goes Out and Other Problems

Posted by Tony Green | Sep 02, 2009
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Your refrigerator might seem like a mysterious contraption, however there are things that you can do when something goes wrong. Here are the top five most common problems and how to deal with them. If the solutions outlined here don't work, the help of a professional may be in order.

1. Nothing happens. It doesn't run and the light doesn't come on:

Make sure the power cord is plugged in. This may sound simple and obvious, but it does happen. If it is plugged in, check the circuit breaker.

2. It doesn't cool sufficiently:

This is probably the most common refrigerator problem. The first thing to do is make sure the thermostat is set at the proper temperature. There is generally a default setting that is marked on the dial or spelled out in the operating manual. Give the dial a turn or two and reset it. Sometimes the contacts become stuck and need to be jarred loose. If it happens again, this part may need to be replaced. Always unplug the unit when replacing the thermostat or any electrical part. If the thermostat is OK, then check the condenser coils underneath for dust buildup. Dust collects, preventing the coils from carrying heat away, making the unit work harder and less efficiently. Remove the panel in front and vacuum underneath. Another reason is a faulty seal around the door. Place a bright flashlight inside and turn off the lights in the kitchen. If you see light anywhere around the seal, it needs to be replaced. This can be obtained from your manufacturer or an appliance parts source.

3. It's too cold:

This problem can also be caused by a wrong setting on the thermostat (too high) or by a faulty thermostat altogether.

4. There is a puddle of water on the floor:

One possibility for this is a leak in the icemaker supply line. If so, immediately locate the water shutoff valve and turn off the water. Repair kits are available at your local home improvement store. Another possible cause is a blocked drain or overfull drain pan. Locate the plug in the bottom of the main compartment and force hot water through it with a poultry baster. A little bleach mixed in the water can aid the process. The drain pan is easily accessible underneath. If there is a puddle that isn't water, call your repairman.

5. The refrigerator runs constantly:

This is another result of dirty coils underneath. A brush may able to remove the dirt and dust a vacuum might miss. Again, unplug the unit when cleaning out underneath.

Other problems can concern the motor and coolant system. If you determine that they are the source of the problem, consult your local professional. If your problem causes the refrigerator to shut off, you generally have about a day or so of cold to keep your food fresh--just minimize opening the door. And remember that a new refrigerator can be cheaper than some repairs.

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