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Why Is My Refrigerator Not Cooling?

John Turpin is our resident home service repair expert here at Service Direct. He’s got the knowledge and experience to help homeowners like you make sense of most home repair issues. And with Service Direct, we connect you with top-tier service professionals to help with any repairs needed.

The 6 Most Likely Reasons Your Fridge Isn’t Cooling

There could be many reasons why your refrigerator is struggling to keep your leftovers cool and your veggies frozen.

Luckily, many of them have a simple DIY fix. So before you hire a professional here are summaries of the six most common causes followed by an extensive refrigerator troubleshooting deep-dive.

1. Power Supply

More often than not, all it takes is plugging it in or turning it off and on again. If the problem isn’t at the socket, before moving on, check the breaker to make sure there is power.

2. Thermostat

If the refrigerator is getting power, the next logical point of failure is the thermostat. If you’re lucky, someone bumped it by mistake or the kids have just been playing with it.

3. Blocked Vents

It’s easy for the fridge to get overfilled. Sometimes food items are blocking the vents from circulating air. Keep things cool by ensuring vents are free from obstruction.

4. Insufficient Clearance

If the cavity for your fridge is too small, it can suffocate the compressor and condenser coils. Always ensure fresh air can circulate around your refrigerator.

5. Dirty Condenser Coils

Dirt, dust and pet hair can also inhibit the evaporative coils and compressor from working properly. Make sure you remove debris from them regularly with a vacuum.

6. Dirty or Faulty Gaskets

Sometimes everything else is working just fine but your gaskets are letting cold air leak out. Ensure your rubber seals are still soft and clear of food waste or debris.

John’s expert home DIY tips can help you identify the main causes of problems with your refrigerator not cooling.

Appliance Repair Tips for Refrigerators

In-depth Explanations & Troubleshooting

1. Issue with Electricity Supply

Most electronic issues are related to the source of power or can be resolved with a ‘hard reset’.

This might seem obvious or too simple, but maybe the plug is loose or the socket isn’t receiving power at all. The following steps might help you figure out the problem or solve it altogether:

  • First, briefly open your fridge doors to check if lights and/or any digital indicators are on.
  • If so, read out and note any codes or errors for troubleshooting with the owners manual. 
  • Otherwise, close the doors to keep the temperature inside low and move onto the power source.
  • Ensures the plug is securely in the eclectic socket and switched on.
  • Confirm the socket is receiving power by plugging in a different device and checking the breaker box.

If the lights are on but the problem persists move onto number two (2). Otherwise, you might need to contact one of our trusted appliance repair companies for help.

2. Thermostat Faulty or Incorrectly Set

If your refrigerator is receiving power, ensure your thermostat is working and set correctly.

Once you have confirmed that the fridge is indeed plugged in and powered on, check your thermostat is correctly displaying a food safe temperature. For optimal performance, your fridge temperature should be between 32ºF – 40ºF.

If the temperature is not displaying at all or you suspect it is displaying incorrectly you’ll want to contact us to connect with an appliance repair specialist. Otherwise, adjust the temperature or proceed to number three (3).

Refrigerator Not Cooling Fix Solutions

3. Food Items Preventing Vents from Circulating Air

If despite adjusting the thermostat the temperature inside your refrigerator is still too high, you could have food items blocking the vents. In order to cool properly, refrigerators circulate cold air through vents from the compressor to the freezer and the fridge compartments respectively.

This applies to all types and brands. If your fridge is overfilled, preventing air escaping the vents and/or circulating throughout each compartment, it might be time to reorganize and purge any expired food items.

4. Insufficient Clearance Between Wall & Appliance

Another common issue that prevents refrigerators from cooling properly, is the clearance space, or lack thereof, around and behind the fridge. Similar to blocked vents, in order for the compressor and condenser coils to function properly they require a continuous flow of air cooler than themselves. Without optimal airflow they will struggle to efficiently exchange heat making it difficult for the refrigerator to stay cool.

The absolute minimum clearances necessary for optimal function ½” on the sides and 1” at the back. This can vary between brands so we recommend referring to the manual.

5. Condenser Coils Blocked by Dirt, Dust & Hair

Once again, your refrigerator requires direct access to cool air in order to optimally maintain the necessary heat exchanges keeping the air inside your fridge cold. Over time dust, dirt and other particles like pet hair can collect on the condenser coils.

Blocked coils make it more difficult to release heat forcing your compressor to work harder. To alleviate and prevent this issue, clean or vacuum your coils at least every 2-6 months.

Refrigerator Coil Clean to fix Cooling

6. Dirty or Faulty Rubber Gaskets

Refrigerator gaskets are the soft, bumper-like rubber seals attached to the perimeter of the fridge doors and drawers. They are designed to prevent cold air from escaping by creating a seal between doors and their respective compartments. Over time these seals can harden or collect food and other debris.

If you suspect cold air could be escaping or notice your gaskets are dirty start by cleaning them with a non-corrosive sponge and some warm soapy water. If after cleaning the gaskets you notice they are worn or air is escaping you may need to schedule a technician to replace them and confirm there aren’t any other causes.

Common Refrigerator FAQs

What brands can appliance repair technicians fix?

Our trusted technicians should be able to fix most brands of refrigerator, including the following:
• Samsung
• Whirlpool
• Amana
• Kitchenaid
• Dometic
• Maytag
• Mitsubishi
• Hisense
• Panasonic
• Bosch
• Siemens
• Toshiba
• Kenmore & Kenmore Elite
• LG, LG French Door & LG Inverter Linear
• Frigidaire, Frigidaire Gallery & Frigidaire Side by Side
• GE, GE Side By Side, GE Monogram & GE Profile

Why do I need a licensed professional to fix my fridge or freezer?

It is a Federal requirement that anyone working with refrigerant is licensed to do so by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That said, it is perfectly legal to clean and replace some refrigerator parts yourself.

What refrigerator maintenance or repairs can I do myself?

If you’re comfortable and know how, swapping out gaskets, shelves, thermostats and even evaporator or condenser fans is fine.

What can I do about the error code on my fridge display?

These days fridges are getting more and more high-tech. Some ‘smart’ fridges can even tell you what the problem is. To decipher error codes, check your owners manual and follow the outlined steps.

If We Can’t Help You Fix It, We’ll Connect You With Someone Who Can

We have a nationwide network of qualified appliance repair specialists standing by ready to help you in your local area. Contact us anytime to connect with one of our trusted professionals.

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or Call (844) 794-0971


or Call (844) 794-0971

Thank You!

Your project has been sent to a top-tier local service provider who’ll be in touch soon to take the next steps.