Can you fix my fridge?
November 10, 2009 3:53 PM   Subscribe

Got home from work, found my fridge is not working. Any troubleshooting I can do while waiting for the landlord?

I'm not great with appliances, but I have checked the outlet, and it works fine. So the problem is internal to the fridge. Are there any basic troubleshooting things I can try? I know this is the landlord's responsibility, but who knows when they'll get to it. I realize I should go ahead and move food to a neighbor's place, and I'm working on that. So I'm looking mainly for things I can check/try to get the thing running again.

One note: Before this happened, the fridge had been regularly leaking water onto the floor for a few months. I'm not sure if that's at all related to the current problem.
posted by lholladay to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Move the more-perishable stuff (dairy, meat) to the freezer ASAP. Keep the doors closed as much as you can.
posted by clorox at 4:06 PM on November 10, 2009

Clean your coils. They can get remarkably dusty and greasy pretty quickly and you never know what happened to them before you moved in.

If you google refrigerator coils cleaning, you'll come across lots of instructions and videos.
posted by DrGail at 4:12 PM on November 10, 2009

One note: Before this happened, the fridge had been regularly leaking water onto the floor for a few months. I'm not sure if that's at all related to the current problem.

My guess is that the defrost drain is clogged, and the channels running from the freezer to the fridge compartment are blocked (thus, cold air isn't moving from freezer to fridge).

Do a google search for clogged defrost drain. Empty your freezer. If you have a hair dryer, blow it towards the back of the freezer to see if you can thaw any ice that might be back there. (Warning: Lots of water will drain into your fridge.) Once you thaw enough, crank the temperature gauge so that the compressor comes on. Then see if cold air is blowing into the fridge. If so, there's your trouble.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:26 PM on November 10, 2009

Clean the coils, etc, and the floor that is/was under the fridge. At least he won't be kneeling on fossilized food and scary bits of things that made their way under there over the years.
posted by variella at 5:06 PM on November 10, 2009

Best answer: Defrost timer, find it and manually turn it to switch the refrigerator on, there may be a schematic on the back of the refrigerator to help you.
posted by hortense at 5:49 PM on November 10, 2009

Check your breaker box.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:33 PM on November 10, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks all. I have checked the coils and such, but no luck so far. I have transferred food to a neighbor so I think I'll have to wait for the landlord's people to come by.
posted by lholladay at 9:41 PM on November 10, 2009

When mine froze up and I fixed it last year, it was crud caked on the condenser coils. I turned the whole thing off for 24 hours, unplugged it too, then dragged it away from the wall and cleaned the coils with an old toothbrush.

then I plugged it back in and turned it on with both the freezer and refrigerator setting NO HIGHER than 7. This is called a "hard defrost".

It started working again and was cold within a few hours. You should never turn your fridge/freezer settings to the maximum, btw. I checked several handyman forums online and everyone stated that running it on the highest settings will eventually muck up the system because it's working harder than it should (yes, it sounds dumb, why have a setting that high, etc.). It's probably fine to run it with one or the other on the highest setting temporarily, but not to leave them there.

If your landlord hasn't fixed it in a day or two, the hard defrost without anything else might work.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:50 AM on November 11, 2009

Response by poster: Marking hortense as best because it actually turned out to be the defrost timer. It was in some way busted and had to be replaced. Thanks for all the comments, I now know more about refridgerators than I ever intended to.
posted by lholladay at 1:22 PM on November 18, 2009

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