Refrigerators are one of the most vital appliances in our homes.
Without them, we’ll have to go grocery shopping every single day to buy fresh food. It is also one of those appliances that are running 24/7 without any gaps or breaks. Considering the number of hours they work, you’ll discover that they break down very infrequently compared to their hard and frequent work.
But Don’t Worry!
Refrigerators are very reliable, and they hardly stop working, but when they do, getting the refrigerators service by a professional can cost you anywhere around $200- $250 for minor issues. In addition to paying a high repair bill, you’ll also have to replace all the spoilt food. All this food goes to waste because you have to wait for a technician to come and fix your refrigerator. Imagine how much money you would save, only if you knew how to fix these problems yourself.
Let’s Dive In!
How do you fix a Refrigerator?
In this article, we’ll provide you with all the necessary information you’ll need to fix all possible issues that can cause a refrigerator to break down. Surprisingly most of these issues can get fixed relatively quickly. Many of these repairs are also very easy. All you need is a little patience and some basic knowledge about how to repair refrigeration.
Read our ultimate guide to How Much Does a Refrigerator Weigh.
Main components of a Fridge and Freezer
The two primary components of your fridge and freezer are an evaporator coil and a condenser coil. Both refrigerator and freezer are cooled down when a liquid coolant is circulated through evaporator and condenser coil. A compressor and a motor are used to spread this liquid coolant. These components have malfunctioned if your or my fridge is not cooling.
This liquid coolant is known as a refrigerant. This refrigerant is first cooled in the condenser, and then it flows to the evaporator. The evaporator contains air, and this air gets cooled down after coming in contact with the coil carrying cold refrigerant.
The main difference between an evaporator coil and a condenser foil is that a condenser foil is on the outside of the unit while the evaporator coil is on the inside of the unit. The liquid coolant is dispersed throughout this system via a compressor. Having knowledge about the basic functioning of these components is necessary for diy refridgerator repair.
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Working of a Refrigerator
Nowadays, most refrigerators and freezers are frost-free. For a frost-free operation, these units are equipped with an internal heater. A timer is used for turning this heater on automatically. This heater melts all the frost inside your freezer. This heating begins at the coldest area and slowly moves towards less cold ones.
After all the frost is melted, the thermostat signals the heater to stop working. Due to the automation of this process, frost never builds inside our freezers.
A capacity-type motor is used to circulate the liquid coolant through the coil systems. Some other components of this system are condensers, fans, heaters, thermostats, and switches. If any of these components get damaged, you can easily replace them at home to resume the activity of your refrigerator.
Keep in mind that although you can fix most of these issues for an affordable refrigerator repair, some matters are better left in the hands of a professional.
Do check our list for the Best Beverage Refrigerator.
Important precautionary measures
Follow the below mentioned precautionary measures before you begin
- Make sure that you have disconnected the power supply of your refrigerator. It is advised to remove the plug from your switchboard instead of simply turning it off.
- If your refrigerator has a capacitor-type motor, discharge the capacitor before you begin working on your refrigerator repair. Capacitors contain stored energy and, if not discharged properly, can cause a severe electric shock to the person touching it. If you are unable to locate the capacitor, take a look at the housing located on top of your motor.
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Discharging the capacitor
Follow these steps for quickly discharging your capacitor.
- Unplug your refrigerator before you begin your diy refridgerator repair.
- Remove the service panel in order to gain access to the capacitor. You can remove the service panel on the back rear position or the service panel on the front of the unit. You’ll find the capacitor in a housing located on top of the motor. The capacitor looks very similar to a dry cell.
- For discharging the capacitor, you’ll need a wire unit (20,000 ohms, 2-watt resistant). These wire units are very inexpensive and are available at most hardware stores. To begin the discharging process, fasten the probes of your resistor with the terminal on the capacitor. The capacitor will immediately start discharging.
- Most capacitors contain two terminals, but if you have three, connect the probes to one outer and middle terminal. After discharging, repeat this process with the other outer terminal and the middle terminal. This process will fully discharge the capacitor before your fridge freezer repairs.
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Disassembling Different parts of the refrigerator
The components such a the motor, condenser coil, condenser fan, and compressor are typically located in the bottom part of your refrigerator, and the control components are located at the top.
To gain access to these components for a fridge repair, start by removing all the shelves. The elements in the upper sections have plastic or metal panels over them for the purpose of covering. You’ll need to remove the screws and the fasteners using a screwdriver. The trim or the molding can hide these screws. You can pry off the molding with the help of a putty knife.
Protruding controls also serve as retainers for other panel sections. You can access these panels easily after you remove all your shelves.
Gaining access to the lower section of the refrigerator requires a little more effort. Find the service panel at the back of the unit below the condenser coils. Remove this service panel by retaining screws. Most units also have a front access panel. It is located below the door. The front access panel is typically held by screws. Remove these screws to gain access.
On some refrigerator models, you can access the components in the front panel by tipping them over. Make sure your refrigerator is unplugged, defrosted, and empty before you tip it over.
Some units such as the condenser coil, evaporator coil, and evaporator are sealed. Only professionals can gain access to these parts for the purpose of repairing. If any of these three components is causing trouble, contact a professional to fix refrigerator.
Many times the problem lies with the cord. Check the cord and the plug to see if they look frayed. You may also see burn marks on the prongs. If you suspect that the cord is faulty, test it with a VOM set.
Many problems stem from the malfunctioning of a refrigerator door. If your fridge door is not opening and closing correctly, it can cause abundant frost and improper temperature. Simple door maintenance can solve all these problems. In our next section, you’ll learn the proper way of servicing a fridge door at home.
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Servicing your refrigerator door
If your refrigerator is too warm and is not maintaining the proper temperature, the problem typically lies with the door. Ideally, your refrigerator’s temperature control system never malfunctions, and your fridge maintains a constant temperature 24/7.
We open our refrigerators multiple times a day, and over time the door seals can become loose. Here’s you you can keep these doors working properly.
1. Testing the Door Gasket
A refrigerator’s gasket can become stiff and get cracked. This causes the seal to break, which drastically affects the performance of your unit, causing the fridge not cooling problem. In this case, read the following steps to know how to repair refrigeration. Start with testing your gasket by placing a thin piece of paper between the gasket and the door jam and closing it. Now try to pull this paper out. If you feel resistance, your gasket is not damaged. If the paper comes out without any resistance or simply falls out, you’ll have to replace the gasket.
Do this paper test on several parts of your gasket. Also, test the door hinges to see if they are the reason for this leakage.
2. Replacing the gasket
Every refrigerator requires a different gasket. Buy the one that is specifically made for your model. Avoid buying the fit-all gaskets because adjusting them to your refrigerator can be very difficult. Once your gasket has arrived, soak it in warm water to make it soft. You can also leave it in your kitchen for a day to bring it to the correct temperature and humidity level.
Remove your old gasket, which will be attached with screws, fasteners, or adhesives. Remove these fasteners and screws. You may also have to remove the retaining strips used to keep the gasket in place.
Once you have removed the gasket, clean the area with a mild detergent. You can buy adhesive removers from the market and use them to remove all the sticky substances from this area.
Start attaching the new gasket from the top of your door and carefully bring it down to the sides to replace the whole gasket. Smooth the gasket into place, make sure it aligns well with the door opening, and cement it into place.
Add screws and fasteners if required. Once the gasket is set in place, use the paper method to test out your gasket fridge repair.
3. Door hinges
Loose door hinges can also affect the performance of your device. Dysfunctional hinges can cause your door to sag, making your refrigerator gasket ineffectual and the refrigerator not cooling.
Test out the door hinges by tipping your fridge slightly. Tip it in different directions until your door fits perfectly well. If tipping the refrigerator backward fixes your issue, simply remove the respective leveling legs.
If this method is ineffective, try tightening the screws to fix refrigerator. Experiment with the shimming to remove the sagginess. You can also place small cardboards to fill out any gaps and then add the screws to keep the door from sagging.
In case of a warped door, tighten the screws connecting the inner and outer door shell if your refrigerator has a magnetic catch on the door. You can fasten it in place using a small piece of cardboard for fridge fixing
4. Door switch
Most refrigerators have a push-button switch on their door jam. This switch is responsible for operating the light. A problem with this switch can cause the light to stay on, resulting in the fridge not getting cold.
You can test the light by turning on your mobile’s video cam and placing it inside your refrigerator. Close the refrigerator door, and after a couple of seconds, remove your mobile and watch the video to see if there’s a problem with your light bulb.
If your light bulb constantly stays on, clean your switch using a dry cloth and test your light again. If this doesn’t fix the issue, you’ll have to remove the switch by unscrewing it and then test it with VOM set to see if it is working or not.
If the current is not passing through the switch, you’ll have to replace it for do-it-yourself refrigerator repair. Buy the switch replacement from an electrical store and screw it in place of the old switch.
We have discussed door repairs in great detail because doors are more susceptible to damage, and you can perform this refrigerator repair efficiently at home.
Now we’ll move on to the internal components of your refrigerator.
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How to fix a fridge if the internal components of your refrigerator malfunction?
You can not fix all the inner components of your refrigerator for fridge repairs without the help of a professional, but some of them can get repaired at home easily. These components include
- Limit switch
- Evaporator fan
- Defrost timer
- Defrost heater
- Condenser fan
- Drain ports
- Drain hose and pans
- Ice makers
- Refrigerant leak
- Motor compressor
In this article, we’ll discuss how to fix a refrigerator if the internal components malfunction. You’ll learn about components that are more prone to damage
1. Evaporator fan
If your refrigerator feels warm, the problem can lie with its fan. A defective fan can adversely affect the performance of your unit. The problem might be a faulty fan motor or bent and broken fan blades. You can straighten these fan blades using pliers. A faulty switch can also cause the fan to malfunction. Check all the possibilities before calling a professional for refrigerator repair.
2. Condenser fan
If your condenser fan is malfunctioning, you’ll notice that the refrigerator not cooling correctly. You can test this fan with a VOM scale to see if it is burnt out or not. A reading of 200 Ohms or higher will mean that your fan’s motor needs to be replaced. You can buy this motor from an electrical store and replace it with the old motor. Also, make sure that the fan blades are unobstructed and straight.
If your freezer has an automatic icemaker, you’ll know that it has the tendency to malfunction more often than other parts of your fridge. Most often than not, this problem is caused because your ice maker becomes clogged. Unplug your fridge and disconnect its water supply. Remove the water line from the valve and remove the wire strainer as well. Clean the strainer using a brush and reassemble all these components. Your ice maker will start working as soon as you plug the appliance back in. The ice maker refrigerator repair is pretty uncomplicated, and anyone can perform it easily.
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Symptoms of a faulty unit and refrigerator repair tips
Many of us don’t notice that our refrigerator is not working correctly unless it stops working altogether. The earlier you notice a problem, the easier it will be to fix it.
Here are some of the common signs of a broken fridge.
1. Refrigerator making excessive noise
If your refrigerator is noisier than usual. The problem lies typically with the fan motor. This fan motor can be in need of replacing, or if there’s a minor problem, you can do the refrigerator repair at home. When your fridge is making too much noise, you’ll also notice it is warmer than usual because the refrigerator stopped cooling.
2. Leaking refrigerator
If water is leaking out of your fridge, the problem can be with the gasket, the water inlet valve, or the ice maker. Most of these problems can be solved without the need to replace the whole component.
3. Refrigerator not starting
If your refrigerator is not starting, most probably the problem lies with its relay capacitor. Also, check if the thermostat and the electronic control board are functioning well or not.
4. Warm refrigerator
The purpose of your refrigerator is to keep your food cold, and if it isn’t cooling properly, there is no use for it. Check your diffuser, air damper, and baffle. Replace if faulty, and your refrigerator will start cooling.
5. Freezer cooling too much
If your freezer is too cold, the temperature sensor is not working properly and needs replacement. The problem can also lie with the air damper. Check the thermostats, temperature sensor, and air damper and replace the one not working correctly.
6. The fridge is cooling too much
Your air inlet damper is most likely damaged if your fridge has suddenly started colling too much. Also, take a look at the temperature sensor and control board before replacing anything.
7. The fridge light has stopped working
This problem can be easily fixed by replacing the light bulb or the socket. First, test if the socket is supplying electricity or not and then move on to replacing the bulb.
8. The fridge door is sweating
A sweating door can only mean two things. Either your gasket is leaking because of a broken seal, or there is a need for a new door assembly.
9. The fridge is running too long
If your fridge is running too long, you can do the refrigerator repair by replacing the defrost heater and timer because these two components are responsible for maintaining the temperature inside your refrigerator.
Hi, I am Kat! I love writing about various kitchen appliances especially ice makers, refrigerators, freezers, ice cream makers & much much more. I am a freelance journalist who is determined to make the best out of everything life throws my way & to write content that actually makes an impact. When I am not writing, I am finding ways to be a better parent & helping mothers the world over by overcoming parenting challenges.