Troubleshooting a Refrigerator Not Cooling Video

This video shows how to troubleshoot problems when your refrigerator isn't cooling. There are a few different parts that could be responsible for the problem, including the automatic defrost system, the compressor, the evaporator fan or the thermistor.

We'll walk you through some simple tests to help narrow down the problem and provide links to more advanced tests to figure out which part or wire needs to be replaced to get your refrigerator cooling again. You also can check out our DIY refrigerator repair page for more how-to guides and videos, answers to common questions and error code charts.

Today, we're going to talk about a refrigerator not cooling. Your refrigerator might seem warmer than usual for a day if you’ve just added a lot of food—wait 24 hours after adding a lot of food to see if the refrigerator cools properly. Also make sure none of the food containers are blocking airflow at the vents; the owner's manual usually shows where the vents are located.

But if you haven't added a lot of food during the past day, and you can’t hear your refrigerator running, the first thing to do is check for power.

Open the refrigerator door and see if the light turns on. If the light doesn’t turn on, let’s check the power cord and the outlet. Obviously, you’ll want to make sure that the refrigerator is plugged in and that the power cord isn’t damaged.

Then make sure that the electrical outlet is working by plugging in a lamp or some other appliance that makes noise. If your outlet isn't working, you’ll need to have it repaired by a qualified electrician.

Frost buildup prevents cooling

Once you’ve confirmed that your refrigerator is getting power, the next thing you will want to check for is excessive frost built up on the evaporator, which can inhibit cooling.

You may need to troubleshoot issues with the automatic defrost system if the evaporator is caked with frost. This video will walk you through that process.

Diagnosing compressor and evaporator fan problems

If there’s no frost on the evaporator coils, let's move on to some more advanced checks. Most refrigerators, like this common Kenmore model, have a diagnostic test mode that checks refrigerator operations. First, we'll check to see if the compressor and evaporator fan run in the test mode.

To enter the diagnostic test mode on this Kenmore model, within 2 seconds, press the light switch 3 times and then press and hold it a 4th time until you hear a long beep. You're now in the test mode.

If this doesn’t work on your model, check your tech sheet for instructions. You can usually find it located behind the bottom front grill or taped to the back of the refrigerator.

Press the door switch twice to start the compressor. The control beeps twice and then you should hear the compressor start. If you don’t hear the compressor turn on, check the start relay on the compressor. This video will show you how to troubleshoot issues with your compressor.

To check the fan, press the door switch twice within 2 seconds and wait for the two beeps. Repeat this step 2 more times. The control beeps twice and then starts the evaporator fan. If the evaporator fan doesn't run, unplug the refrigerator and check the evaporator fan. This video will show you how to troubleshoot problems with your evaporator fan.

Checking the temperature sensor

If the compressor and evaporator fan both work in the diagnostic test mode, you’ll need to check the thermistor, which is the temperature sensor. This video will show you how to troubleshoot problems with the temperature sensor.

To exit the test mode, within 2 seconds, press the door switch 3 times and then hold the switch down until the control beeps. Or just unplug the refrigerator.

Other possible problems

We want to help you determine the correct part needed to repair your refrigerator. Keep in mind it can be hard to diagnose the exact issue. Failures such as a broken condenser fan or the refrigerator being low on Freon, can also keep the refrigerator from cooling well. Don't hesitate to have a Sears technician diagnose and repair your refrigerator if necessary.

Well I hope this video helped you out today. Be sure to check out our other videos, here on our YouTube channel, and don't forget to subscribe.