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Refrigerator Not Cold Enough

My refrigerator is running but not cold enough....

Start out with the easy stuff first...make sure the lights go out when you close the door(s), make sure the doors are closing properly and the gaskets are closing fully and not torn. Check to make sure the evaporator fan in the freezer is working, this fan blows the cold air around. If the fan is not working, possible bad fan motor - check for power to the fan motor and also check the fan switches around the door openings, ( if your fridge has these switches, not all do ). A common problem cropping up in the last several years has been the air damper not opening up and allowing the cold air from the freezer to be blown into the fresh food section ( mostly on SxS refrigerators ). For many years the air damper was manually operated and now we have motorized controlled or temperature controlled or thermistor and electronic boards controlling air dampers, and if this device sticks closed the FF section will normally warm up. An example picture of "one" style and an air damper ( called a diffuser by Whirlpool ). Next would be to check the condenser tubing, a good place to start is to make sure the condenser coils are not built up with dust!! Make sure the condenser fan motor is also working properly. Check for any "clicking on and off" noises from the compressor, is the compressor running.

The most common fridge "not cooling" problem is a frost free failure. Remove the access panel in the freezer section to expose the evaporator coils. If the coils in the freezer section get plugged up with frost, this frost will block the evaporator fan motor from blowing the cold air around. The fan blade can also hit this frost and either become noisy or stop altogether. Locating the defrost timer can be tricky....they are often hidden behind the back bottom corners of the fridge at the bottom, in the last few years the timers have been located in the ceiling of the fresh food section, and some behind the cold control cover. Once you locate the defrost timer, slowly turn the screw like wheel in the middle of the defrost timer with a straight screwdriver until the fridge shuts off. You are now in defrost. If the defrost heater(s) comes on now, replace the defrost timer and defrost thermostat. If the heater(s) does not come on, you can ohm test the defrost heater for continuity or volt test for 120 volts to the heater(s). If you have no power to the defrost heater(s) you can also bypass the defrost thermostat to see if the defrost heater will come on, join the 2 wires together to bypass the defrost thermostat. If the heater now comes on, replace the defrost timer and defrost thermostat. If the heater itself is bad, defrost the fridge with a hair dryer, replace the defrost heater* and defrost thermostat. If the defrost timer seems "hot" to the touch or is noisy ( like a ticking or screeching noise )...replace it.

*One new safety device added to refrigerators in the last few years has been a in-line fuse added to both sides of the defrost heater. If one of these fuses let's go, you must replace the whole defrost heater, as it comes as an assembly. If the defrost heater does not work, you should check for one of these fuses being open. Check it with a volt meter or ohm meter.

New link from Appliance Repair Aid on how the wiring circuit works for a frost free fridge, the link is here.

On a frost free refrigerator, the cooling coils should be in the freezer section. On a SxS style refrigerator the coils will be behind a cover on the back wall. On a freezer on top style the coils could be behind the back wall or under the freezer floor. Removing the cover and exposing the evaporator coils could be a valuable tool. Seeing what the cooling coils looks like may help split your not cooling problem. Totally covered coils with white snow is a frost free problem. and the rest are bare is an indication of a system problem. Example picture one, example picture two, example picture three. System problems may be a leak in the refrigeration tubing, an inefficient not 100% pumping compressor.

Some common troublemakers by the manufacture make....

These are just *some* common trouble makers that we have seen over and over and over ( ok you get the idea ) again....

Amana ( 596.####### Kenmore ):

Top freezer:

SxS:

  • frost free failure, Help link one Help link two
  • system leaks
  • open defrost thermostat stopping the evaporator fan motor from running
  • broken or loose wires to the evaporator fan motor
  • dirty condenser coils, Help link

Bottom Freezer:


Frigidaire ( 253.####### Kenmore ):

Top freezer:

SxS:


GE, General Electric, ( 363 or 362.####### Kenmore ):

Top freezer:

SxS:


Maytag ( MagicChef, Norge, Admiral ):

Top freezer:

  • frost free failure, Help link one Help link two
  • evaporator fan motor
  • system restriction
  • open ( no continuity ) compressor overload

SxS:


Whirlpool ( KitchenAid, Roper, 106.###### Kenmore ):

Top freezer:

  • frost free failure, Help link one Help link two
  • dirty condenser coils, Help link
  • bad compressor start relays ( remove relay and shake, if the relay rattles like something is broken inside, it is bad ) Link help

SxS:

  • dirty condenser coils, Help link
  • frost free failure, Help link one Help link two
  • bad compressor start relays ( remove relay and shake, if the relay rattles like something is broken inside, it is bad ) Link help
  • stuck closed air diffuser ( this is a motorized door that is suppose to open and allow the cold air from the freezer to be blown into the fresh food section ) Help link

Parts Help

Related items, further info:


Refrigerator Parts