You’re home from a long slog in the supermarket, and you’ve reached the last hurdle in the shopping process – unpacking and storing food in the fridge to keep it chilled.
But you noticed that your fridge is not as cold as usual. In fact. it’s not cold at all.
This is a serious issue, because if your fridge gets too warm, all of that fresh food you just spent time and money on shopping, is going to spoil and go off. Obviously, you need to fix this problem, quickly.
Since refrigerators consist of several components that work together to create a cold environment, you’re going to need to work your way through a checklist to source the part(s) at fault.
Possible Refrigeration Faults
Refrigerators have various components that can wear out or damage. For this reason, before applying a solution, you need to find the possible cause that is responsible for the lack of cooling performance. However, before investigating the cause, empty the refrigerator and store the perishable food in cool boxes, cool bags, or other refrigerators in case you have more than one device available.
We’re going to walk through seven common causes of a malfunctioning cooling system.
1. Power Supply
Let’s start with the basics – electrical power: If the refrigerator stops cooling from one moment to the next, an interrupted power supply may be the reason. If this is restored, the device will work properly, but you will first need to find out what is breaking the power. The following causes could be the reason:
- Is the cable plugged in correctly? If the socket is freely accessible, the plug can be accidentally pulled out of the socket.
- A broken cable or a damaged plug, on the other hand, is a bigger problem. Look for spots that indicate damage, such as broken wires. Then contact an electrician to replace the cable. If you have the necessary knowledge, you can change the cable yourself, but you must work with care here.
- Check the trip switch at the breaker box , especially after a power failure. The switch should be in the “on” position.
- Maybe it is the socket? Try a different outlet or check using an extension from a power outlet in another room.
Make sure that the power cable is never kinked or heavily knotted. In this case, untangle it and inspect for any wear and tear – WITH THE POWER OFF.
2. Thermostat Setting
Perhaps you have set the thermostat incorrectly without knowing. Sometimes, the thermostat dial can be knocked down the lowest setting by accident, which is easy done as they are often located inside the fridge next to stored objected that are moved in and out.
Check the thermostat, i.e. the wheel with the numbers inside the refrigerator, to see whether it is set to 1 or 10.
Typically, setting number 1 is the warmest, and 10 is the coldest, perhaps you mistakenly set this thinking the rules were the opposite way around. Please double check this in your fridge operating manual.
Many modern refrigerators work without a wheel as a thermostat completely. With these, all of this is done via digital settings that cannot be changed accidentally.
3. Damaged Thermostat
If the thermostat is all set incorrectly, and you’re fridge still won’t get cold, it may be damaged. If this is the case, the refrigerator will feel a little warmer and will not cool even if you reset it.
To determine a defect, you have to hire a specialist. Worst case, you’ll need to have the thermostat replaces, and cost will be determined by the manufacturer and model, plus the technicians fee – so shop around for quotes. In the case of particularly old refrigerators, it may even be advisable to completely replace the fridge.
4. Damaged Door Seals
Fridges only cool when they are sealed closed, air tight. Because of this, you have to take care that the doors don’t open on their own and they are closed properly between use.
However, very few people pay attention to door seals, which are inevitably going to wear and split over time. You can sometimes tell if your door seals are damaged by unexplained frost or excessive condensation forming inside the fridge of the your fridge is leaking water.
Check your seals and look for:
- Foreign bodies stuck in the rubber
Alternatively, put a sheet of paper between the door and the frame and close it. Then try carefully pulling the paper out of the refrigerator. If it is tense, the seals are OK. If it can easily be pulled out of the door at one point, the seal may need replacing.
5. Dirty Condenser Radiator
A refrigerator does not cool properly if the condenser tubes are caked in dirt and fluff. Don’t know what the condenser tubes are? These regulate the heat dissipation caused by the cooling inside the device and can be seen as soon as you look at the back of the refrigerator. The black mesg type structure covering the back of the fridge, is usually warm to the touch – this needs intermittent cleaning.
If these are very dirty, the heat can no longer be expelled and remains in the fridge. Just like if a car radiator doesn’t work, the car overheats, same with a fridge.
How to clean the radiator:
- turn off the refrigerator
- store the food in cooling containers
- wait for the pipes to cool down
- clean the pipes with a vacuum cleaner brush nozzle
- stubborn dirt is removed with a damp cloth or brush
- then switch on, allow to cool then refill the food
6. Damaged Cooling System
If the cooling system is damaged, it is often necessary to replace the entire refrigerator or to accept expensive repairs, since coolant cannot simply be topped up. Causes of a damaged cooling system are, for example, the scratching off of ice or the formation of rust , which over time can lead to one or more fine hairline cracks or small holes through which coolant escapes in the form of gas. If the cooling capacity drops, pay attention to the following signs inside the refrigerator:
- soft hissing
- Bubbling noises
- Cooling extremely uneven
- Formation of unpleasant odors
If none of the causes mentioned above is the reason for the poor cooling performance, you must have the device checked by a specialist.
7. Compressor Problems
The compressore is the heart of the refrigerator, and if defective, can be just as expensive as the cooling system. The compressor compresses the refrigerant so that it can cool, without it, the fridge won’t cool down.
If the compressor is damaged or does not work properly due to a defect in the control, the cooling capacity is significantly reduced or non existent. You can tell whether the compressor is the cause if you set the thermostat to another level and then you can hear a whirring noise.
This whirring noise should be audible every now and then when the compressor is doing its job. If there is no buzzing, you have to hire a specialist and have it checked whether the compressor needs to be replaced or just readjusted.