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refrigerator not cooling

My Refrigerator is Not Cooling – What’s Wrong?

Having a refrigerator not cooling is often cause for alarm. After all, you like the food in your fridge, and don’t want to see it spoil when your refrigerator is warm.

But don’t panic, as there are a plethora of reasons why this could be happening– which may or may not be things to repair, but simple errors that can be fixed at home. We’ll get into the nitty-gritty of refrigerator maintenance and show you how to troubleshoot refrigerator not cooling issues so you can find the right problem and go about fixing it.

9 Things to Check When Refrigerator Not Cooling  

The most likely culprits for a refrigerator not cooling enough involve problems with door gaskets; problems with the sealed system through which refrigerant flows; problems with airflow, fans, or compressors; or problems with power or electrical components.

Our highly-trained refrigerator experts can figure out why your refrigerator or freezer isn’t cooling efficiently, replace any failing components, and fix the problem. We carry a wide variety of parts right on our trucks, which means we can complete most repairs right away, so you can get back to the business of eating, cooking, and living as soon as possible.

We can also help keep your refrigerator and freezer running smoothly throughout the year, with our maintenance plans. Under these plans, we perform annual maintenance recommended by the manufacturer and essential for optimal refrigerator operation — including condenser coil cleaning and water filter replacement, for instance.

#1: Check For Ice Buildup Inside the Freezer

If you see ice buildup inside the freezer, the explanation could be as simple as a freezer door that’s not closing properly or door gaskets not creating a complete seal — or it could be a sign of a problem with the defrost cycle.

Make sure that no food items are preventing the door from closing fully. If the freezer door is closing properly but you still see ice buildup, inspect your door gaskets (rubber sealing around the freezer door) to ensure that they provide a complete seal. Check the seals all the way around the freezer and look for any signs of tears, rips, or deformation. In addition, close the freezer door, then look for gaps between the seal and the case of the refrigerator or freezer.

Pro Tip: Use a flashlight placed inside the (closed) freezer to shine light through gaps in the seal. Turn on a flashlight, put it inside the compartment you are checking, and close the freezer door. If you see light shining through the seal when the freezer door is closed, you’ve found the problem.

#2: Rule Out Power Issues

Check to ensure that your refrigerator is plugged in and receiving power, and make sure the power lights are on. We recommend turning off the power for 3 minutes or more, which will reset any computers in your refrigerator, possibly resolving your problem. (Shut off the power either by turning off your breaker or unplugging your unit, but not both.)

#3: Set Temperature Controls at Factory Default

Make sure the temperature controls didn’t get nudged by accident and that the fridge and freezer temperature dials are set to the right levels. In general, it’s important to set refrigerator and freezer temperature controls near the factory defaults (0 degrees for the freezer and 37 degrees for the refrigerator). Manually-operated temperature dials usually have marks or notations indicating the factory-recommended cooling settings.

Small adjustments to factory default temperatures are okay, based on user preferences, but Appliance King does not recommend adjusting the temperature settings to compensate for refrigerator or freezer cooling problems. Lowering refrigerator temperature to compensate for inefficient cooling performance could mask more serious problems and put stress on other components of the refrigerator, while also using more electricity than needed.

refrigerator is warm

#4: Make Sure the Vents Inside the Freezer Are Clear

Make sure the vents inside the freezer compartment (at the back) aren’t blocked by large, bulky items. Leave some room for cold air to circulate — as packing large items near the freezer walls and top and bottom vents can interfere with proper air circulation. Air needs to circulate freely through your freezer, to allow for proper cooling. 

#5: Door Gasket, Hinge, or Slide Problems

Any rips, tears, or gaps in door seals will allow moist air to enter the refrigerator or freezer, leading to frost formation and having. Similarly, problems in hinges or door slides could also allow moist air to enter and result in a refrigerator not cold.

Our fridge repair experts can replace any torn or broken gaskets, hinges, or door slides, so that your refrigerator-freezer cools properly, and you can focus on other things. We carry many commonly-used parts right on our trucks, so we can fix your fridge as quickly as possible, even if you need a new part.

To help ensure that your refrigerator and freezer continue to operate smoothly and optimally, we also offer maintenance plans. Under these plans, we take care of important annual maintenance tasks, such as condenser coil cleaning and water filter replacement, as recommended by the manufacturer and essential for optimal refrigerator operation.

refrigerator not cooling

#6: Sealed System is Compromised

Your refrigerator/freezer is cooled by a mixture of liquid and gas (refrigerant), pumped through a sealed system — comprising a compressor, evaporator, condenser coils, and refrigerant lines. Leaks, problems, or blockages in any part of this system can interfere with normal cooling activity. 

#7: Airflow Issues or Compressor/Fan Problems

Anything compromising the circulation of air through the refrigerator/freezer unit will interfere with cooling activity. Air must circulate freely through the freezer compartment, to the lower outside rear portion of the unit, and down by the compressor and condenser coils. On the back of the unit, a fan blows air over the condenser coils onto the compressor, to cool down the coils. A malfunctioning fan or compressor, dirty or clogged condenser coils, or blockages in the air vents (or anywhere in between these areas) will affect cooling of the refrigerant and the temperature of the refrigerator/freezer.

#8: Dirty Condenser Coils or Blocked Vents

Refrigerator and freezer cooling activity involves a compression and expansion cycle, in which liquid refrigerant is pressurized by a compressor, then further compressed into a small tube — before it is ultimately pumped into a much larger set of tubes, where it expands into a gas, triggering a chemical reaction and rapid cooling. During the “high-pressure” stage of this cycle, heat is generated in the condenser coils, then a fan dissipates it into the atmosphere. If lint accumulates on the condenser coils, it acts like a blanket and holds the heat in, preventing the fan from cooling the liquid and resulting in the refrigerator not cooling.

Our refrigerator service team can clean dirt, lint, and grime from condenser coils; ensure that vents are clear; and restore the free flow of air and refrigerant through the system. In case we need to replace parts, we are prepared for that too — our trucks are well-stocked with common replacement parts, so we can repair your fridge as quickly as possible.

Get detailed instructions for how to clean refrigerator coils here. >>

#9: Power or Electrical Problems

If the refrigerator/freezer is plugged in and the computers have been reset (as explained above), failure in one of the system’s many electrical components could be a possible cause of cooling problems. The proper functioning of the defrosting circuit involves heaters, thermostats, relays, computer boards, timers, temperature sensors, wire terminals, and other components.

Every 8-12 hours, the defrost system interrupts cooling activity, so that heaters inside the back freezer panel can melt frost buildup on the evaporator coils, thereby ensuring that air flows freely throughout the system. The melted frost drips from the inside of the freezer down into a drain, then outside the fridge to the compressor area, where a fan then blows heat through the condenser coils, causing this water to evaporate. If anything prevents the defrosting system from clearing ice buildup, ice hardens into a solid brick, preventing cooling air from flowing through the fridge and freezer. 

Our refrigerator technicians will diagnose the root cause of refrigerator not cooling, identify any failing components, and repair or replace them quickly. We stock most of the defrosting and electrical components on our trucks, enabling us to repair refrigerators promptly and minimize food spoilage.

We also offer maintenance plans, to help keep your refrigerator operating as efficiently as possible. To ensure that your refrigerator and freezer continue to operate smoothly and optimally, we perform manufacturer-recommended annual maintenance, such as condenser coil cleaning and water filter replacement.

Call Appliance King at (561) 276-4169 — we are here to help.



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