My refrigerator is not being cool!
July 16, 2007 5:05 PM   Subscribe

Need handyman help. My refrigerator has power, but isn't cooling. Light comes on, etc. Now what?

It has power and the light works. It's just not cooling. I tried changing the temp settings. No fan comes on. What can I look for to troubleshoot? Thermostat? I'm not even sure what I'm looking for.
posted by johnd101 to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
How old is the fridge? Can you hear it running?
It could me many things. Could be anything from a dead compressor to a coolant leak.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:09 PM on July 16, 2007

Did someone change the thermostat setting, maybe during a cleaning? There's a knob in the refrigerator section somewhere; see if it's turned to "Off" or to a less-than-cold setting.

If you hear the motor running, but it doesn't get cold, it probably doesn't have any refrigerant to compress. That could be recharged, but modern refrigerators are pretty tight, so that would also indicate a leak. With a leak, it will need recharging again sometime later.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:23 PM on July 16, 2007

Cannot here any motor running. The fan isn't turning either.
posted by johnd101 at 5:45 PM on July 16, 2007

Check the defrost timer most timers can be manualy advanced to run the compressor.
posted by hortense at 5:47 PM on July 16, 2007

I bet hortense has it. I've had a timer go out before and it was a really simple replacement if you have any mechanical aptitude at all. I didn't pay for my timer (got the place I bought the fridge from used to give me another) but I don't imagine they cost too much.

You can, as noted, advance the timer manual by turning it, maybe with a screwdriver, until the compressor kicks on. Tomorrow you can call some repair places to get the timer. In some cases this may be hidden behind a panel in the back. If you go the DIY route of course be sure to unplug the fridge before replacement.
posted by 6550 at 6:34 PM on July 16, 2007

Does it have a freezer attached to it? We had the vents from the freezer to the refrigerator get clogged/covered and then the refrigerator got warm. We took everything out of the freezer and fridge (naturally, pitching a bunch of stuff at that point) and cleaned the vents, and also the compressor coils, and that fixed things. I've got a side-by-side fridge/freezer.
posted by leahwrenn at 7:18 PM on July 16, 2007

First check to make sure your fan isn't coming on because it is switched. Check for a switch activated by the door, often they are integrated into the light switch so that when the light goes off the fan comes on. You can also listen for the fan to spin down when you open the door.

Assuming the fan is indeed not running this is 90% a defrost timer (assuming a frost free) or cold control.

Check the defrost timer by advancing it as others have said, It's possible for a DT to fail in the switches but 19 times out of 20 it's the timer part that goes.

Check the cold control by jumpering the wires going to it. I had a set of alligator clips for this purpose but you can just disconnect the wires and jumper them together, the female spade connectors will usually slide together and you can secure them with a bit of tape to prevent shorts. Make sure you disconnect the power before messing with the wires.

If you can read a wiring diagram you can do the same sort of jumpering at the defrost timer if the above two steps don't solve things. Otherwise you'll need a tech.

The other possiblities are compressor burned out or motor starter relay/over load broken. There is also the 1 in 10,000 whacky problem too of course.

Everything but the compressor is worth fixing for sure. The compressor is a toss up depending on the replacement value of the compressor and the fridge.

(PS: if this is a manual defrost and the cold control has a button in the centre of the knob make sure it isn't depressed. The button controls a manual defrost cycle and if it's stuck down your fridge won't operate correctly)
posted by Mitheral at 9:32 PM on July 16, 2007

We (really he) fixed our fridge by putting in the make and model and putting in a couple key words. It brought us to a appliance guy's website and had a common probs and how to diagnose.. For us it was a fairly new fridge so that may have helped.
They had a link on where to purchase the part and how to fix it.

ooh just found it--
Samurai Appliance repair man at
posted by beccaj at 4:56 AM on July 17, 2007
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:15 AM on July 17, 2007

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