Refrigerator Troubleshooting Guide

Use this chart to find out what is causing a problem with your refrigerator. Look up the symptom and then review some of the possible causes. Follow links from the possible causes to articles on how to verify the cause and how to repair the problem.

Symptom

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Click on underlined items for further information

Refrigerator does not run and the light does not work
  • Make sure the refrigerator is plugged in securely
  • Check for a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker
  • Test the power outlet for current
  • Inspect the electrical cord for damage
  • Eliminate use of an extension cord, if any is being used
  • Check the outlet voltage
Refrigerator does not run but the light works
  • Check the temperature setting
  • Make certain there is a three inch space outside of the refrigerator between the walls and the back and sides and at least a one inch gap above, to allow for air flow
  • Clean the condensor coils
  • Unplug the refrigerator, wait two hours and plug it in. If you hear it running, a problem is causing the compressor to overheat
  • Test the temperature control
  • Test the evaporator fan
  • Test the defrost timer
  • Test the compressor relay
  • Test the overload protector
  • Test the compressor motor
Refrigerator light does not work
  • Replace the bulb
  • Test the door switch
Refrigerator or freezer is not cold enough
  • Check the temperature setting
  • Assure that there is enough room for air flow in the refrigerator or freezer
  • Check for air flow restrictions in vents
  • Test the temperature control
  • Clean the condensor coils
  • Check the door seals
  • Test the door switch
  • Test the defrost heater
  • Test the defrost timer
  • Test the evaporator fan
  • Check for a clogged drain tube
  • Check for refrigerant leak
Refrigerator or freezer is too cold
  • Check the temperature setting
  • Test the temperature control
Refrigerator is noisy or makes strange sounds
  • Hissing and popping is normal on frost free refrigerators, it is the defrost heater
  • Check that the refrigerator is level
  • Check the drain pan
  • Check the condensor fan
  • Check the evaporator fan
  • Inspect the compressor mounts
Refrigerator runs continuously
  • Defrost the freezer
  • Clean the condensor coils
  • Check the door seals
  • Test the door switch
  • If you recently adjusted the temperature control, loaded the refrigerator or are in a humid location, it is not uncommon for a refrigerator to run for 24 hours or more before getting cool.
Refrigerator starts and stops frequently
  • Clean the condensor coils
  • Check the outlet voltage
  • Test the condensor fan
  • Test the compressor relay
  • Test the overload protector
  • Test the compressor motor
Freezer does not defrost automatically
  • Test the defrost timer
  • Test the defrost heater
  • Test the defrost thermostat
Refrigerator has an unpleasant odor
  • Remove spoiled food
  • Clean refrigerator interior with a solution of hot water and baking soda
  • Clean the door seals
  • Remove breaker strips and check for wet insulation
Water on floor outside of refrigerator
  • Check the drain pan
  • If you have an ice-maker, check the water supply hose going into and coming out of the water inlet valve
Water inside the refrigerator
  • Clean the drain tube
  • If you have an ice-maker, check refrigerator and ice-maker for level

 


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