How To Fix A Refrigerator That Is Not Cooling

Ever imagined life with a refrigerator not cooling? Hard to imagine, eh? We’ve gotten so dependent on this appliance which entered our lives a couple of decades back. Our everyday life could actually come to a halt if suddenly one day our fridge would stop functioning. What would become of the milk, the fruits and vegetables, and all the leftover food which our fridge has been sincerely preserving for us day and night?

If only we could prevent it from failing? Alas, it’s only an electrical appliance and it’s meant to break down sometime or the other. The good news though is that there are ways to troubleshoot the problem and they’re DIY too! Let’s learn them here.

What Would Cause a Refrigerator to Stop Getting Cold?

Before jumping to the solution, let’s analyse the problem at hand. Your refrigerator not cold means that it stops cooling the stuff that lies within. Before calling a professional, better to identify the issue yourself and save up on the cost. Here are some common reasons for your ‘fridge not cold’ complaints –

1. Loose Power Cord

This is one of the most common reasons for the problem. Quite simply, the fridge’s power cord may have become loose at the outlet or there may be a flipped breaker at the main electrical panel, causing the entire unit to shut down and the fridge not getting cold situation to arise.

How to fix this 

Open the fridge door and check for the light. If it doesn’t turn on, plug in the power cord tightly again. In case the light still doesn’t turn on, check the electrical panel if the breaker may have flipped and switch it back on.

2. Altered Thermostat Temperature

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Often times, a refrigerator won’t get cold because the thermostat setting may have accidentally altered. Most modern refrigerators in India come with thermostats that are preset at 35-37 degrees Fahrenheit. Sometimes the food inside the fridge may accidentally touch the thermostat dial and change the set temperature, affecting normal cooling (either slowing it down or increasing it).

The knob style thermostat panel often seen in direct cool refrigerators are more easily altered than the smarter thermostats of their frost-free counterparts. With this being a minor difference, frost-free refrigerators and direct cool variants are separated by a large set of differences. We’ve discussed them in great detail in our ‘Frost free vs. direct cool refrigerators‘ article.

How to fix this 

If you’re going to be investing in a new refrigerator, pick the one that has the option of locking the temperature settings once programmed. Newer augmented refrigerator models come with advanced digital thermostat panels that not only facilitate the initial temperature programming aspect but are also immune to unsolicited temperature alterations. In older models, you need to manually reset the temperature, yet again!

3. Defective Door Seal

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Sometimes the magnetic seals on the doors, also known as door gaskets, may become defective with regular wear and tear. This is another common reason as to why the fridge won’t get cold. A loose door gasket leaks out the cold air from the refrigerator resulting in a excessive stress on the compressor. While the defective door seal itself prevents the fridge from cooling effectively, it also sets up the compressor for permanent damage.

How to fix this

A loose refrigerator gasket is often easily noticed. Easily opened fridge doors are a sign of loose door seals. If the gasket seals the inner compartments well, you a substantial pulling force to open the door. If you’re still doubtful about it, the following inspection procedure will give you a definitive call.

You can test if the seal has loosened up by placing a currency note halfway in the fridge door. Close the door. Try pulling out the note and if you feel resistance while doing so, the seal is working fine. But if the note slips out of the door easily, the seal may be due for replacement.

Replacing a refrigerator gasket doesn’t necessarily require a technician. It is a fairly simple procedure that can turn out as a fun DIY project too. We’ve discussed a step-by-step guide to change the refrigerator gasket in our ‘5 common refrigerator problems‘ article.

4. Unleveled Refrigerator

This one is a rather subtle cause, but it may contribute to uneven cooling if left unchecked. Whenever installing a new refrigerator, it is advised to confirm that it is leveled correctly and the door swings open without noticeable effects of gravity on it. Manufacturers suggest the front edge to be no more than 6-10 mm higher than the rear edge. If the fridge is not leveled, it may cause cooling issues thereby adding to the energy expenditure. 

How to fix this

You’ll need to adjust the front legs of the fridge using a hex wrench or adjustable pliers.

5. Dirty Condenser Coils

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The condenser coils of the fridge are filled with refrigerant and are generally not in a sealed unit. As such, they may get covered with dust, hair, pet fur, or other similar foreign elements over time, lowering their potential to keep the fridge air cool.

How to fix this 

You can simply clean the coils up using a coil condenser brush and a vacuum cleaner. Perform cleaning at least once or twice a year to maintain proper functioning of the fridge.

6. Blocked Air vents

The cool air in the fridge circulates back and forth through the air vents located between the freezer and the refrigerator compartments. Any unwanted substance blocking the airflow through these vents may affect cooling by changing the temperature therein and the freezer not freezing the ice; be it a top-mount or a bottom mount refrigerator.

How to fix this 

Avoid shoving food items tightly against a vent to prevent it from getting blocked. Also, avoid frost build-up in the freezer which can also block vents and cause the refrigerator not cold complaint.

Note that in case you aren’t able to identify the problem at all, and none of the above seem to be the issue, it’s best to call a technician to ensure timely detection and repair of this significant appliance.

How to Reset a Refrigerator Compressor?

Temperature stability inside your refrigerator is extremely important to preserve food, particularly the perishable food items. Sometimes, when both the fridge and freezer not cooling refrigerator reset to its optimal temperature setting is enough to work the trick. Let’s see how.

A fridge compressor uses a gaseous refrigerant which is in a low-pressure state. When more cold air needs to be shoved into the thermostat of the fridge, the compressor kicks on, triggering the refrigerant to become high-pressure.The latter then circulates through the cooling coils and the fans shove the cool air into the fridge and freezer compartments.

By resetting the thermostat, you can change the temperature settings of the fridge, helping you to cut down on energy costs as wellas defrost the fridge and restore it to ambient room temperature. Once the appliance has been restarted, the fridge compressor running but not cooling means that the desired temperature isn’t achieved.

Here’s how you can reset the fridge compressor to do so:

  1. Unplug the power cord of the refrigerator from its power source at the wall outlet. Once the power completely shuts out, let the fridge stay unplugged for some time.
  2. Now turn both the fridge and freezer controls inside the fridge to “off” or “0” setting.
  3. Plug the power cord back to the wall outlet.
  4. Adjust the fridge and freezer controls to the desired setting for cooling. Ideally, refrigerators that have 0 to 9 setting controls, 5 is the optimum.
  5. Your fridge might take up to one day to adjust to the new stable temperature and show cooling effects accordingly.

How to Replace the Fridge Evaporator Fan?

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The condenser fan of your fridge helps circulate cool air to both the refrigerator and freezer compartments. If the freezer works but fridge doesn’t, you might want to check if anything’s stuck in the fan. Make sure that it spins freely without obstruction too. To clear the clog, you can unplug the fridge and clean the fan blades. After you plug the fridge back on and the fan still doesn’t work when the compressor’s running, chances are that the fan is broken and needs a replacement.

It’s easy to identify the problem too because a broken fan might start to make a loud sound especially while opening the freezer door because the fan’s located behind a cover in the freezer compartment. Here’s how you can replace one to fix the problem:

  1. Remove the back cover – To locate the evaporator fan, you’ll need to remove the back cover of the fridge. Remember to unplug the appliance first.
  2. Remove the fan cover – In case your fridge has a separate fan cover too, you need to remove that as well. Unscrew it to access the fan.
  3. Remove the evaporator fan – If the fan is producing a loud noise or doesn’t spin freely, you need to remove it from its position. It can be removed by unscrewing the fan from the freezer’s wall where it’s attached to.
  4. Replace the fan with a new unit – Remove the mounting bracket from the old fan and attach it to the new one. Unplug all the wires and switch them too from the old unit on to the new one. Then reinstall the fan and replace the fan cover.
  5. Test the fridge by plugging it back on. The noise coming from the fan when you open the freezer compartment should have stopped.
  6. Check for a day to see if the cooling is restored in both the fridge and freezer compartments.

What to Do If Nothing Works?

Trying out the above-mentioned quick fixes at home is to help you cut down on the costs involved in calling a professional technician at home to look over your appliance. It also means their time and your money because checking the appliance, detecting the problem, and then fixing it up might need more than one visit at times.

However, that said, sometimes these quick fixes might fail to produce the desired results. In this case, the best solution undoubtedly would be to seek immediate professional assistance because electrical appliances are sensitive and tricky to handle. There’s always a possibility of an electrical shock too if not handled with caution.

In case of severe damage, you might want to consider getting a new refrigerator altogether.

Wrapping Up 

Take good care of your refrigerator; seek timely assistance if necessary to enjoy cool and fresh food always!