Top 5 Most Common Refrigerator Repairs
By Our Friends at Sears Home Services
Broken ice maker? No water? Won't cool off? Here are the most common problems in fridges, what probably caused them and how to fix them.
Imagine opening your fridge and having to toss everything into the trash. When your refrigerator isn't working properly for an extended time, that's exactly what you'd have to do. The good thing is many of the most common problems are something you can troubleshoot. Here are five common snafus, plus their likely causes and quick fixes.
Problem 1. No Water Coming Out of the Dispenser
Likely Culprit: Clogged water filter
How to Fix It: Are you changing the filter regularly? Over time, the water filter in your fridge will collect and store the debris and contaminants it’s designed to filter out. So first and foremost, change the filter regularly. In many of the newer fridges, there's a sensor inside the door that tells you when to do it.
Problem 2. Broken Ice Maker
Likely Culprit: Clogged water inlet valve
How to Fix It: Check for any kinks or tears — but remember to shut the valve off from the household water supply or you’ll have a sitcom-like flooding situation to deal with, too. Check to see if the screen, or filter, is plugged with debris.
Another Likely Culprit: Ice-making mechanism
How to Fix It: Most modern fridges use heat to release the cubes (it sounds counterintuitive, we know), and there's a series of electrical tests to diagnose that problem. If you don’t know your water valve from your filter, though, call a pro.
Problem 3. Constant Cycling or Running
Likely Culprit: Dust and pet hair accumulating on the condenser coils
How to Fix It: Unplug the fridge and give the coils — which are usually on the bottom or the back of the fridge — a quick vacuum. You can also use a refrigerator brush to clean the coils. You should be doing this a couple of times a year.
Another Likely Culprit: Setting the internal temperature too low
How to Fix It: Bump it up to between 37 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit which is ideal for food storage. Keeping a fridge in a hot environment, like a garage or a shed, can also make it run harder for longer periods of time. If possible, put your fridge somewhere cool, and maintain a few inches of clearance all the way around it so the equipment has space to put off heat. If none of these fixes work and you're hearing strange noises coming from your fridge, the electronic control board could be damaged from a power surge, worn-out relays or open circuits, and might need to be replaced.
Problem 4. Water Leaks
Likely Culprit: Blocked or clogged defrost drain or water line
How to Fix It: Unclog the drain, which is located under the freezer coils, with warm water, a warm rag or a pipe cleaner. If that doesn’t work, you may need to call a repair expert. For the water line, unplug the fridge and find the shut-off valve for the water line. Usually it’s under your sink. Close that valve and diagnose the problem. Is there a kink or tear in the line? You’ll need to replace it. Is it frozen? Leaving the fridge unplugged until the ice melts will usually solve the problem.
Problem 5. Warm Fridge
Likely Culprit: Dirty condenser coils
How to Fix It: Get out the vacuum or your condenser coil brush, unplug the fridge and have at it.
Other Likely Culprits: Broken condenser fan or evaporator fan, or frosted-over contacts on the defrost thermostat.
How to Fix It: This is definitely a situation to call in a professional technician.