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There are a few different parts that could be to blame if your refrigerator isn’t cooling. Your automatic defrost system may not be melting the frost off your evaporator coils. The compressor, which circulates coolant, may not be working correctly. Your evaporator fan may not be blowing cool air in your refrigerator. Or your thermistor may not be sending the correct temperature signals to your electronic control board, which controls all the major components. This video will walk you though some simple tests to help narrow down what’s causing the problem and provide links to more advanced tests to figure out which part or wire needs to be replaced to get your refrigerator up and running.

1. Check for power
If you can’t hear your refrigerator running, check for power by opening the refrigerator door to see if the light turns on. If the light doesn’t turn on, make sure the refrigerator is plugged in and that the power cord isn’t damaged. Then make sure that the electrical outlet is working by plugging in a lamp or an appliance that makes noise like a blow dryer. If the outlet is broken, have it repaired by a qualified electrician.

2. Check for excessive frost
Check for excessive frost buildup on the evaporator, which can inhibit cooling. You may need to troubleshoot issues with the automatic defrost system if the evaporator is caked with frost.

3. Enter diagnostic test mode
Most refrigerators have a diagnostic test mode that checks refrigerator operations. Check the tech sheet for instructions. Look for it behind the bottom front grill or taped to the back of the refrigerator.

4. Test the compressor
Press the door switch twice to start the compressor. The control beeps twice and then the compressor should start. If you don’t hear the compressor turn on, check the start relay on the compressor.

5. Check the evaporator fan
To check the fan, press the door switch twice within 2 seconds and wait for the two beeps. Repeat this step 2 more times. The control beeps twice and then starts the evaporator fan. If the evaporator fan doesn’t run, unplug the refrigerator and check the evaporator fan.

6. Check the thermistor/temperature sensor
Watch our video to troubleshoot problems with the temperature sensor.

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50 thoughts on “Troubleshooting a Refrigerator Not Cooling

  1. Monkey Man says:

    Hi Im having real hassle with my fridge, for a week now the freezer has been insanely cold with ice build up (didnt do that before). Fridge is warm. Took panel off back of freezer, coils look fine no ice, and fan working too blowing out super cold air. But absolutely nothing coming out of air vent in fridge. Thought it might be blocked with ice so poured some boiling water into it hoping it would clear the air vent but the water just seemed to fall out the bottom so i have no idea what is going on. Please help. Its only 2 frickin years old and i cant afford a new one 🙁

  2. JPQNY says:

    I have the same exact unit as in this video. The lower part cools just fine but the freezer up top, the temperature varies from hour to hour it seems. I know this because the ice cream is sometimes frozen hard but other times it is really soft. What is the problem? Is this a problem?

  3. Dj Fast Freddy says:

    Dj Fast Freddy
    1 second ago
    Hi, Fridgidaire refrigerator was warm in both compartments. Compressor wasn't starting. In test mode, the compressor and both fans work. Checked relay and overload parts. Relay bad. It rattles. Installed hard start device. Light came on inside refrigerator but neither the compressor nor the fans work. Can you offer diagnosis?

  4. Dj Fast Freddy says:

    Thanks. I installed the 3-1 hard start unit b/c the relay and overload were so expensive. So you’re saying that if the control board was ok, that the hard would’ve worked and ignited the compressor and fans?

  5. WTF HAPPENED says:

    please help. I have this model and every few hours it makes that beep by its self. drove me crazy wondering where it was coming from. its the fridge. that exact sound you have it make during testing. any ideas please????

  6. Jared Hoffman says:

    My freeze was cold and fridge not so much. Need the ac system worked because of that. Dropped that top plate down where he says check the thermoister and mine was a block of ice! Deforsted turned the freezer down a tad and fridge down aswell! Works now!

  7. Joe Irvine says:

    Freezer stopped freezing and next day fridge went hot too. I ch3cked if the coils were dirty and they were a little, cleaned up. Plugged in and you can here and see the fan kick on, lights on too. Compressor powers on, you can hear a low steady hum but it never kicks over loudly like before when it was cooling. I haven't seen a video on the french door style Kenmore elite with the freezer on the bottom.

  8. islam is Haq. says:

    My same model refrigerator was off for almost 6 month as i was out now i switched on freezer cooling is perfect freezing everything well but no cooling in refrigerator area down side . Any solution please help me thanks

  9. shamseer vm says:

    I have one double door refrigerator…. if you work continuously for a week, then there will be no cold …. If you turn off the power for an entire night and turn it on again in the morning, it will start to cool again ….

  10. Mike Lim says:

    we have refrigerator with friger working fine, but refrigerater area isn't cooling down since few days ago. Can I simply turn it off, let all the ice melt from friger, and then power back on? This apparently worked with mini-referigerator that I have in my small room. I wonder if it will do same with big one in the kitchen.

  11. Rawdy Roman says:

    Frigidaire.. compressor running, evap and condenser fans running, coils are clean but no freezer or fridge cooling. Compressor is warm (not HOT to touch).. ideas??

  12. Et Z de IR says:

    Thank you for your video. You know your business and I appreciate your help. I called a Sears repariman some months ago and my experience was not good, Just threw about $85 down the drain.

  13. Stewfly92 says:

    general electric fridge gets power but compressor stopped so I pressed the button and held it like you said to enter "test mode" and compressor fired up. is it okay to leave it like this. also the fan in the rear bottom has sparked a day earlier , started on fire, then stopped working. I have disconnected that fan motor and placed a household fan near it to provide airflow.,… is this okay? or must I replace that small fan motor in the rear bottom…

  14. Maureen Peniuk says:

    These are amazing videos! Thanks so much for sharing. I am going to try and trouble shoot a problem with a fridge that is not cooling. Although it does cool the freezer a bit. there is no cooling in the fridge and the fan in the freezer is noisy. It was left plugged in over the winter in an unheated building by the previous owner. Might you be able to suggest the most likely places I should target my testing. Thank you!

  15. Brett King says:

    Wayne, you're more country than pigs feet, fat back, crackling cornbread, pinto beans, turnip greens, sweet tea and blackberry cobbler. You make a southerner like me proud. Go Vols!

  16. Cesar Salgado Salgado says:

    So water got a little bit on my refrigerator not too much but the problem I have is that the motor turns off and on and or makes this noise and both coolers do not work and all my food went to waste what could be the problem

  17. aida figueroa says:

    I have model 253-60412614 kenmore with freezer on top ,so it started making some loud noise at first and then I noticed everything was freezing at the bottom like the milk. A week later freezer started defrosting my meats and bottom was hot. I asked someone with experience from the area to come check it he realized my thermistor and damper control needed replaced so he did it. Fridge worked perfectly for 2-3 days now freezer is building up ice over vents and fridge is warm again. IDK what the problem is. If anyone can give me advice please I will appreciate it.

  18. Doug Harlow says:

    Wayne HELP,

    I have a Frigidaire Refrigerator FFHT1513LW2. I had problems with a warn refrigerator, cold freezer. After querying online I replaced the Compressor Start Relay, that didn’t work, then the Defrost Timer, then the Temperature Control Thermostat, that seemed to work, but now the refrigerator is getting colder and colder. No mater where I adjust the Temperature Control Thermostat knob, even all the way to the left, the warmest setting it freezes my 2 liters, bread, etc. Is my Temperature Control Thermostat defective or what? I also get a loud snapping noise, like someone snapping their fingers loudly, ever so often. Thanks for you video.

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