Refrigerator Not Cooling – 8 Simple Possible Fixes

Is your refrigerator not cooling sufficiently? Maybe the air in your fridge feels warmer than it should be or your perishables are going bad sooner. There may be a number of reasons why this is happening. You want your refrigerator to preserve your food well, so if you have noticed that your fridge doesn’t seem to get as cool as it once did, it’s best to address the problem as soon as possible to avoid food spoilage.

Here are some of these common reasons why your refrigerator is not cooling enough.

Make Sure Your Fridge Is Getting Power

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Fridge and freezer not cooling? This may sound silly but making sure your fridge is plugged into the power outlet is the first thing you should check. It could be the reason why your refrigerator is not cold. The power cord may have become loose and is no longer plugged all the way into the outlet.

To check if your fridge is still receiving power, open the fridge door to see if the light comes on. If it does, your fridge is getting power and you can eliminate the lack of power as the cause for your fridge not working properly. If the light does not come on, check the power cord to make sure that it is firmly plugged into the outlet. Then check to see if the light comes on. If this doesn’t do the trick, go to the electrical panel and see whether the breaker controlling the fridge has tripped.

Check the Refrigerator’s Thermostat

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When you get a new refrigerator, temperatures are usually set between 35 to 37°F which is considered the optimal range to ensure that food doesn’t go bad quickly. However, what may happen is that the thermostat dial can be inadvertently adjusted when food items are put in or taken out of the fridge. It’s quite common for this to happen. In fact, this happens so frequently that many modern refrigerators have digital panels that allow you to lock in the temperature because manufacturers know just how easily the temperature can be inadvertently changed.

There are cases where the thermostat may give a faulty reading, particularly if your refrigerator is an older model. If this is the case, it may be a good idea to purchase a separate refrigerator thermostat as a test to see if you are getting a consistent reading. If both thermostats give you a similar reading, your refrigerator thermostat is not the reason your fridge is not cold enough.

Test the Seals on Your Fridge Door

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The magnetic seals on the doors of the refrigerator may be allowing the air inside of your fridge to escape. When in good condition, these seals, also known as door gaskets, keep the cool air trapped inside the fridge, maintaining the temperature set within the fridge. However, if these seals are faulty, you may find yourself losing a lot of the cool air through the door gaskets.

A great way to test the strength of the magnetic seals is to place a bill halfway in the door of your fridge and then close the fridge door. Then, try to pull the dollar bill. If there is some resistance when trying to pull it out, this means that the seal is working well. But if the bill can be slipped out easily, your door gaskets need to be replaced.

Fortunately, replacing door gaskets is a fairly simple task you can do yourself. You can purchase door gaskets for about $45-$75 or more. The price depends on the model of your fridge and brand. You should be able to find which door gaskets are right for your refrigerator by looking at your owner’s manual. You should also be able to find instructions on the plaque placing the gaskets.

Determine Whether the Refrigerator Is Level

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Your fridge should be level. You’d be surprised at how an unlevel fridge can affect the efficiency of your fridge – it could be why your refrigerator is not cold. A new fridge can leak air if it is not level, so it’s important that your refrigerator is on level ground to ensure the seal remains tight. To test the level, use a carpenter’s level and place it on top of the fridge. The bubble should be right in the middle of the glass tube. If it isn’t, you will need to adjust the front legs of the fridge until the bubble is in the centre. With most refrigerators, adjusting the legs can be done by using a hex wrench or adjustable pliers. Make sure you check your owner’s manual for instructions on levelling the refrigerator.

Clean the Condenser Coils

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Condenser coils are a part of your fridge that contains refrigerant. As your refrigerator ages, these coils can accumulate dust or pet fur that will limit how effectively the coils cool the air in your refrigerator. These coils are not contained in a sealed unit, making them prone to dust/fur buildup.

The good news is that cleaning refrigerator coils is quite simple. All you need to get is a coil condenser brush, which is roughly about $10. You’ll also need a vacuum to suck any loose dust or other particles. Cleaning your refrigerator coils once or twice a year should keep them free of dirt and debris.

Check to Make Sure Nothing Is Blocking the Air Vents

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This is another common reason why your fridge stopped cooling. Within the refrigerator, the air circulates between the freezer compartment in your fridge and the refrigerator compartment through vents. That airflow is what keeps the air in your fridge cold. These vents are essential to the passage of air from one compartment to the other. If there is something blocking the vents and preventing air from flowing back-and-forth, the temperature in your fridge will be inconsistent and could be why your fridge stopped cooling properly.

Generally, these vents are along the back wall of the fridge or along the side. Make sure there is nothing blocking the airflow. This can happen when the fridge is too crowded, and some items are pushed up against the vents. It’s important that you know where these vents are so you don’t place anything right in front of them that can block this airway. You also don’t want your fridge to be too tightly packed because the air will have a hard time circulating.

Sometimes frost can build up in the freezer and block part of the vent. If the freezer compartment of your fridge has a lot of frost buildup in it, unplug the fridge and open the freezer door so that the frost can melt. When all the frost has melted away, simply plug the fridge back in and you should notice that your fridge is cooling more effectively. Keep in mind that if your freezer has accumulated a lot of frost, it may take up to a day for it to defrost. So you will need to have an alternative place to store your perishables in the meantime.

Refrigerator Compressor

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The refrigerator compressor is a motor and a pump. A fault compressor could be the reason your fridge is not getting cold. The compressor has the important function of pushing refrigerant vapour into the refrigerator coils and compresses the vapour under pressure. This action produces heat in the form of hot gas, which eventually cools. When the temperature inside the refrigerator climbs higher than the set temperature, the sensors will trigger the compressor to turn on. When the compressor kicks in, it draws in cold refrigerant gas (in liquid form) and pushes out hot compressed gas, which is deposited outside the refrigerator through the coils.

One way to tell if your compressor is working is if the fan is still operating but your fridge is not cooling properly. The compressor is located at the back of your fridge near the bottom. To be able to access it, you will need to pull your fridge out and away from the wall. Be sure to unplug the refrigerator before pulling out the fridge.

The part of the compressor that has cords running into the compressor is called the compressor start relay. It is significantly cheaper to replace the compressor start relay than it is to replace the compressor. A good way to figure out which of the two parts is faulty is to buy a new compressor start relay and then test to see if it improves the function of your compressor. If it does not, then you know that the compressor itself is the faulty part.

Air Damper

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This part of the fridge controls the amount of air that is released from the freezer to the fridge. When something is wrong with the air damper, for example, if it is unable to close or open, the temperature of the fridge will be affected; however, the freezer temperature will be just right. This is because a faulty air damper doesn’t not allow cold air from the freezer to move to the fridge and keep it cool.

The air damper is between the fresh food compartment and the freezer. To test whether the air damper is broken, you can remove it by removing the screws on it and then pull the cover of the air damper off. You should be able to see the thermostat sensor that you can also remove. The air damper has a motor inside the freezer. You’ll need to remove the ice bucket if your fridge has one to reach it. Then unscrew and unplug the motor and the rear duct panel which holds the air damper in position.

When All Else Fails

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If you find that you are still unable to determine why your refrigerator isn’t cooling properly, it may be time to reach out to a professional for help. Depending on the brand and model of your fridge, it may be difficult to figure out what the problem is or access some of the refrigerator parts that you may want to examine. Even though there may be simple ways to remove some parts of your fridge, we do not advise you to take apart their refrigerator unless you are experienced.

Appliance Wizards have trained technicians who can help you diagnose and repair your refrigerator. Refrigerator not working? No problem. Give us a call today and will be happy to help you.