Why Is My Refrigerator Not Cooling?

refrigerator warm

Nothing is more frustrating than coming home to find your refrigerator not cooling properly. Obviously, this is a problem that needs to be solved as soon as possible, but how do you find out what the problem is in the first place?

Our refrigerator repair experts have compiled this list of common reasons why refrigerators stop cooling effectively to help you diagnose what might be going on with your refrigerator. Even if you still have to call a repair professional, hopefully, this guide will help you pinpoint the problem more quickly.

Common Reasons For Refrigerator Not Cooling

So, what are the reasons your refrigerator isn’t cooling? Let’s take a look:

Incorrect Temperature Settings

This might seem obvious, but in many cases when a refrigerator isn’t cooling it’s because the temperature switch got bumped to the wrong setting accidentally. Before checking anything else, just take a moment to verify that your temperature gauge is set to the correct temperature.

Poor Air Flow

Most refrigerators require about an inch of space between items and the interior walls and an inch or two between items and the cabinet ceiling to ensure that cool air can circulate through the refrigerator cabinet properly. If your fridge and/or freezer is stuffed to the brim with food, this might be keeping cool air from reaching all areas of the inside. Make sure you’ve got some space between the items in your fridge to allow air to move freely and cool everything evenly.

Blocked Air Vent

Another common reason for a fridge not cooling is food items blocking the air vent in the freezer compartment. This is where most of the cooled air for your refrigerator is pumped through and then it is circulated throughout the interior cabinets of the freezer and fridge. Sometimes a bag of frozen veggies or a tub of ice cream will get pushed up against the vent, blocking any fresh air from being circulated. Verify that your air vent isn’t being blocked.

Dirty Condenser Coils

In older refrigerator models, you can see the condenser coils on the back of the unit. Pull your fridge away from the wall to check out the coils, if they’re visible on your model make sure they aren’t covered in dirt and dust. If they’re looking nasty, unplug the fridge to avoid the risk of electric shock and wipe the condenser coils down with a wet rag. If the coils are covered in dirt, they have a harder time cooling down efficiently and this can keep your unit from cooling properly.

Learn how to clean refrigerator coils here.

Photo Credit: Whirlpool

We’ve found that these are the most common causes for a refrigerator that isn’t cooling. Other common causes are broken evaporator fan or condenser fan motors, faulty door switches, or blocked vents between the freezer cabinet and the refrigerator cabinet. Any of these reasons will require a professional to come in and replace parts on your unit. If your problem isn’t solved by any of our recommendations, it’s best to call in your local repair specialist to take a look.

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