We’ve all been there – the refrigerator isn’t cooling and the food in it is starting to spoil. And give off an odor that you can smell through the entire house. If this happens, there are several things that could be wrong with your refrigerator and you’ll want to identify what they are so you can fix them right away. Here are five reasons why your refrigerator isn’t cooling and how to fix them.
The Thermostat Is Off
The thermostat is one of those things that’s easy to overlook. But it can easily mess up your fridge’s cooling system if it goes haywire. With fridges, thermostats are always a safe bet for error; you should always check them first when troubleshooting cooling issues. If your refrigerator isn’t cooling at all, try turning off and unplugging it for about 30 minutes. After you plug it back in, set a lower temperature on your thermostat and see if that fixes things. If not, move on to one of these other options
The Compressor Is Broken
If your refrigerator isn’t cooling, it could be because of a problem with your fridge’s compressor. The compressor is what drives refrigeration in any refrigerator and if it’s not working, you won’t have cold air coming out of your fridge.
It may seem difficult to replace but there are some do-it-yourself steps you can take to figure out whether or not that’s where your problem lies. First off, before anything else, make sure to unplug any appliance you plan on working on. Next up, check for water or moisture around your unit; if there is any moisture present (including condensation) then turn off and unplug immediately.
Moisture causes mold growth which will lead to major problems down the road. Finally, locate your thermostat and/or thermometer inside your fridge. Depending on how old your refrigerator is, these might be behind a panel door or they might just be sitting out in plain sight.
If you’re having trouble locating them, try opening each door of your fridge individually—the thermostat should tell you which one has cooled down (and thus indicates which door is actually functioning). Once you know which side has cooled down, place a thermometer inside that compartment; if it doesn’t read below 40 degrees Fahrenheit after two hours then something might be wrong with your compressor. To fix: call an appliance repair service as soon as possible!
The Electrical Connection Is Flaky
If your refrigerator isn’t working correctly, try a few different electrical outlets before you start troubleshooting other issues. If you have access to an outlet tester, plug it into various outlets and check for power. Power registers in any of them, call an electrician. Not getting enough power is almost always why refrigerators aren’t working properly.
The Condenser Coil Is Dirty
Condenser coils—the parts of your refrigerator that release heat—are easily accessible, which means they’re also pretty susceptible to contamination. If yours are dirty, don’t worry; you can clean them yourself. Simply vacuum with a brush attachment or use a soft cloth and soapy water be sure to remove any food particles first. Run your refrigerator for about 15 minutes afterward to make sure that everything is fully dry. You can usually find your condenser coils behind removable panels on either side of your fridge, near its back wall.
The Dampers Are Stuck
If your refrigerator is not cooling. And it’s a side-by-side model with upper and lower doors. One of them may be stuck in place. For some reason—often unplugging it for an extended period of time—the doors may not be able to move freely. Open up both doors, make sure they move freely, and then try plugging it back in again. If they are still stuck (and you’ve tried some force). You may need to replace one or both of them (depending on how damaged they are). The part(s) needed will depend on where you bought your fridge and there should be instructions on how to complete the refrigeration repair services.