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Refrigerator Troubleshooting

Refrigerators are household appliances that are built to last. You don’t buy one just to replace it in a few years. In truth, however, there is a whole lot that can go wrong with your fridge. There are a lot of parts involved that can make refrigerator troubleshooting a pain.
Typically, when a problem with a refrigerator occurs, it requires your immediate attention. When people need to troubleshoot refrigerators, they are looking to do it right away. In some instances, you’ll need to seek professional help. Other problems may involve applying a simple DIY solution.
In this guide, we’ll help you find your way around troubleshooting refrigerator problems. Always check your owner’s guide for model-specific troubleshooting instructions.

Table of Contents

fridge troubleshooting menu buttons

Common Refrigerator Problems and Solutions

With so many parts and features involved in the modern-day fridge, you can imagine how many different problems can arise. In this refrigerator troubleshooting guide, we’re going to present common problems and their solutions.

Refrigerator Noises (Normal and Abnormal)

Your refrigerator is a machine. It’s supposed to make noises. You may have heard your fridge making pulsating compressor noises, like when your AC kicks on, accompanied by whirling fan noises. Low-level running water noises, buzzing, and hissing noises can also be common. That’s also true of the various noises that the automatic icemaker makes, if yours is equipped with one.
What’s not common are banging and knocking noises, often caused by the weight of things on top of the refrigerator, or the water line banging on the chassis. Don’t put anything heavy on top of the refrigerator, especially if explicitly warned by the manufacturer. As for the latter, you will only have a water line if your fridge is equipped with a water dispenser or icemaker – check for proper clearance if that’s the case.

Excess Moisture / Frost in Fridge / Freezer

Even the most expensive refrigerator models on the planet may show signs of condensation and moisture. A certain amount is normal – if the amount of moisture or condensation is minimal, you have nothing to worry about.
But if the insides of your refrigerator get excessively moist, you will need to address this. To kick things off, open the door less frequently and don’t keep it open for too long. Instead of opening the fridge every time you need to take something out, open the door and get everything that you need in one go. If you’re still experiencing excessive moisture, you need to take different steps.

For one, makes sure that the fridge door is properly sealed. That means full contact with the refrigerator. Wipe down the gasket – if food particles or dust build up here, that may cause the seal to lose its grip. If the gasket is worn out or broken, replace it with a new one.

A loose seal can allow humidity to sneak in. If the seals are okay but the door is still not closing properly, check for physical obstructions.
Another reason that your fridge door isn’t closing properly might be that the refrigerator is not sitting on level ground. Use a level to make sure that the fridge isn’t leaning.

The Fridge Isn’t Cold Enough

You don’t want your fridge to be warmer than the recommended temperatures. Typically, it should be around 3°C (37°F) for the refrigerator and -18°C (0°F) for the freezer; however a range of 0 – 4°C (33-40°F) is generally accepted as safe for most purposes. Always start with the temperature recommended in the user guide.

However, if you’ve only started to notice that your fridge isn’t as cold as it should be, maybe it’s time you did something about it. If the fridge has been opened a lot during the particular day, it might take as many as 24 hours for the temperature to reach the optimal range again. If this is not the case, try doing some of the following.
Besides checking the temperature range, consider whether the appliance is located near a heat source. Maybe the ambient temperature in the room is warmer than usual? You might need to lower the temperature control if this is the case.
Additionally, make sure that the vents aren’t obstructed. The vents are there to circulate the air and cool everything evenly. If these are blocked by things inside the fridge, make sure to remove the obstructions. The recommendation is to move things off the vents and don’t store any tall things in a row that can block the airflow.

Go ahead and check the settings as well. Modern refrigerators have a number of settings like Cooling On / Off, Power Outage Mode, Showroom Mode, and more. Check the manual to adjust these settings properly.

Icemaker Not Making Enough Ice

The average refrigerator icemaker is designed to produce 1.5kg (about 3 pounds) of ice a day. Before you really get into troubleshooting the icemaker, keep in mind that ice production may not start until the fridge has been plugged in for 24 hours. In some instances, the icemaker may take as many as three days before it gets to full capacity for ice production. Additionally, if you have previously removed a significant amount of ice, replenishing it in full can take as long as 24 hours.

Maybe you haven’t turned the icemaker on. Some refrigerators turn this on automatically and others have a dedicated switch for it.
Alternatively, the water line behind the fridge might be kinked or looped. This water line brings the water into the fridge to feed the water filter going to the water dispenser (if any) and icemaker. If the transfer is blocked, the icemaker won’t receive any water.
Also check and see if the water shut-off valves are completely open. You’ll find the main one under the sink on most fridge models. On others, this valve is located in the cabinet adjacent to the fridge or perhaps the basement.

Malfunctioning Water Dispenser

Typically, when a water dispenser-equipped fridge is first installed, it’s connected to the water supply and the system is flushed. Doing this promotes water flow and prevents leaks. Keep in mind that the water may not be cooled properly for as long as 24 hours after you’ve installed the fridge. Consult your owner’s guide.
Low water supply pressure might be the root cause. A water pressure of at least 241kPa (35 psi) is recommended. Anything below that indicates you may be experiencing a water pressure problem within your home. It is recommended to address this problem. Solutions may range from changing out the section of your plumbing restricting your water pressure to adding a water pressure boosting device to your home. Your local plumbing specialist will be the best source to find the solution that is right for you.

If you have confirmed that everything is fine with the water pressure and that you’ve given the fridge 24 hours to acclimatize, it’s time to check the water connection. You will typically find it on the lower back side of the refrigerator. If it is not connected, connect it. If it is connected, ensure that the tap is turned on.

Another area to investigate is trapped air within your water line. This trapped air will need to be flushed out before the water dispenser can work properly. To release this trapped air, you can press and hold the dispenser for five seconds, release it for about five seconds and repeat until water starts to flow. Once water begins to flow, continue dispensing until 12 litres (about 3 gallons) of water has been dispensed. Consult your user’s guide as it may contain flushing instructions specific to your refrigerator.

Maybe your water filter is what’s causing you all the grief. Try removing the water filter and then operate the water dispenser. If the water flow increases, the problem may be a clogged or incorrectly installed water filter and not the dispenser itself. As you know, a very used filter can cause higher pressure drops and, in turn, a lower flow rate. Replace the filter if this is the case.

Various Error Codes

There are various refrigerator error codes that are specific to the make and model. To see what these error codes mean, check the fridge’s user manual. When troubleshooting refrigerator problems, you should always refer to the manual first.

Fixing Your Fridge

We hope that this guide has helped you solve your fridge problems. If the problem persists and you don’t know what to do or how to solve it, you might have to get the refrigerator serviced. It’s better to spend some money on having the fridge fixed than to run the risk of permanent damage.
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