Common Refrigerator and Freezer Problems: Repair or Replace?
If your fridge is on the fritz, you may not know when to fix it yourself, call a repair person or replace it altogether. Your refrigerator is the workhorse of the kitchen, running 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. So when something goes wrong, it can be both alarming and inconvenient. Here are some tips from our friends at Sears Home Services on what to do when faced with common problems.
Repairs You Can Do Yourself
Refrigerators under a heavy load, in a warm location or full of warm groceries may produce loud noises. Noises generally do not affect the operation of the refrigerator.
Torn Door Seal
The strip that seals the door is known as a gasket, and after a while it wears out by either tearing or wrinkling. Buy a replacement using the model number to make sure you get the right size. Then, peel the old gasket back, remove screws if necessary and pull it away from the fridge door. Soak the new one in hot water to soften it, and then install the part beginning at the corners.
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Burnt Out Bulb
Make sure you don't purchase a bulb that exceeds the wattage recommended by the owner's manual. Otherwise, it can overheat the interior or cause damage to the plastic inner liner. If your appliance uses an LED bulb, you may need a repairman to replace it. Either way, only purchase bulbs specifically for appliances, and unplug the refrigerator before changing the bulb.
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Unplug your refrigerator overnight, as this will allow a potentially frozen drain to thaw. Make sure the refrigerator is mostly level but has a slight tilt to the back for proper drainage. Clear blockages with hot water and a turkey baster. If the drain looks fine and the fridge still leaks, call for service.
Icemaker Not Working
Use a thermometer to make sure the compartment with the icemaker is at 0°F. If it's not, adjust the controls to factory-recommended settings and see if that does the trick. If the refrigerator has a water dispenser, see if it works. The problem could be a clogged water filter or a damaged water supply. No water means no, which means it's a job for the pros.
When to Call the Repairman
If you see a thick coat of frost on the back wall of the freezer, it's related to a defrosting problem caused by a heater, fuse, switch or sensor. Call the technician to see what's going on.
No Water in the Dispenser
This can also mean no ice and a possible water valve issue. First, check that the house supply line behind the refrigerator is turned on and that the filter isn't clogged. If that doesn't clear things up, call in a technician.
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When to Get a Replacement
The compressor is the heart of the refrigerator; it compresses refrigerant and makes that familiar hum. In many cases, a compressor is covered by an additional extended warranty. If not, it could be time to get a new fridge, since replacing a compressor can be costly.
If your refrigerator is more than 10 years old, you'd probably be better off replacing it instead of spending money on the energy it needs to run. Maybe it's time to get that French-door model you've been drooling over.
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