When your refrigerator breaks you want to troubleshoot basically for fixing any obvious issues. This blog post helps homeowners with an easy to use the refrigerator troubleshooting guide. It is put in an easy to understand tabular form. More detailed instructions can be googles further.

This guide is an excerpt from the book called “All Thumbs Guide to Repairing Major Home Appliance” by “Robert W.Wood”.

Refrigerator Troubleshooting Guide

 A refrigerator is made up of a compressor, a condenser, an evaporator, and associated tubing and fans.  Thermostats tell the different components when to operate.  Normally, a fan pulls air over the evaporator, the evaporator chills the air, and the cold air is then pushed through ducts to cool the freezer and refrigerator compartments.  The temperature controls tell the compressor when to operate.  The refrigerator temperature control adjusts an air duct door that partially blocks the airflow into the refrigerator compartment, preventing the refrigerator compartment from getting as cold as the freezer compartment.

When the frost builds up on the coils of the evaporator, the defrost cycle comes on, heating the coils to melt the frost.  The water evaporates or is drained away to the drain pan.

Always unplug the refrigerator before making any repairs.  Then wait about an hour before plugging it back in, to reduce the start-up stain on the compressor.

If you are replacing a door gasket, you’ll need to know the make and model of the refrigerator.  Many different types of door gaskets are available, and your parts supply store will probably have to order the one you need.

Tools & Materials  

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Screwdriver      
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Small socket wrench and sockets
  • Putty knife wrapped with masking tape
  • Volt-ohmmeter or continuity tester
  • Thermometer

Troubleshooting Guide

ProblemProbable CauseSolutions
Refrigerator doesn’t run(light is out) Power not reaching refrigerator Make sure the refrigerator is plugged in. check for tripped circuit breaker.
Refrigerator doesn’t run(light is on) Temperature control faulty or in the OFF position Check temperature control.
Overheating compressor Clean condenser coils. Check condenser fan.
Defrost timer faulty or at defrost setting Check the defrost timer.
Compressor relay faulty Check the compressor relay.
Compressor overload protector faulty Check compress overload protector.
Defective compressor Check compressor.
Refrigerator runs but doesn’t cool Temperature control set too warm Adjust temperature control to lower setting.
Faulty temperature control Check temperature control.
Condenser coils covered with lint Clean condenser coils.
Faulty door gasket Replace door gasket
Evaporate fan faulty Check evaporator fan.
Evaporator coated with ice Defrost refrigerator. Check to defrost timer
Refrigerator too cold Temperature control set too low Adjust temperature to higher setting.
Temperature control faulty Check temperature control.
Refrigerator noisy Refrigerator not level Adjust leveling feet.
Drain rattling Reposition drain pan.
Condenser fan faulty Check condenser fan.

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