Here are some refrigerator repair and troubleshooting tips to help you get more from the refrigerator and keep it operating like new.
Below is useful information about how refrigerators work and common problems with refrigerators. As with any appliance, refrigerator maintenance is important to keeping it operating efficiently. Many appliance maintenance tasks are also important for safety and longevity. This information applies to most makes and models of refrigerators.
Warning! Appliance repair and troubleshooting can be dangerous for the average homeowner. Reduce risk of death or injury by unplugging the appliance before making repairs. Appliances may have sharp edges so use caution when working inside any appliance. When in doubt, call a qualified appliance service technician for assistance.
Most residential refrigerators work the same. All have a compressor, condenser, evaporator, capillary tube and a thermostat. Refrigerators take warm air and make it cooler by transferring the heat using evaporation principles.
The compressor is the hardest working part of the refrigerator and is commanded by the thermostat. It compresses refrigerant gas, causing it to heat up and pressurize as it flows through the condenser coils to dissipate heat and condense into a liquid.
The condenser coil is a system of tubes running through thin pieces of metal resembling fins. The high-pressure gas from the compressor flows into the condenser coils and changes to liquid while the tubes radiate heat from the coils by the fins attached to the tubes. The capillary tube controls the pressure of the refrigerant as it enters the coils.
As the refrigerant passes through the capillary tube the liquid expands, boils and evaporates to become a cold, low-pressure gas. The cold gas flows through the evaporator coils to allow the gas to absorb heat; thus, cooling down the air flowing past the coils. The fan inside the freezer compartment circulates the air to keep the temperature consistent. The process continues to repeat itself, controlled by the thermostat, to keep frozen foods at a consistent temperature to maintain freshness.
Modern refrigerators have an automatic defrost system which includes three major components; the defrost timer, defrost thermostat and defrost heater. Every 6-12 hours, the defrost timer cuts off the power to the compressor and turns on the defrost heater. As the ice melts, it drips through a tube into a pan where it evaporates with the help of a fan blowing warm air over it.
Refrigerator and Freezer Troubleshooting Tips:
Refrigerator not working at all: Check the power supply. Make sure the outlet is working properly by plugging something else into it. Check fuses or circuit breakers. If this is not the problem, it could be a number of things including the compressor, overload/relay, thermostats or wiring.
If the power supply is good, check the troubleshooting section of the manual. Do not toss this aside; read it to learn how to maintain your refrigerator before something goes wrong. Appliance manuals have preventative maintenance tips and operating instructions that must be followed to ensure performance. Call a professional appliance repair technician to diagnose and repair refrigerator problems if the manual doesn’t give you the answers.
Food not frozen consistently: This is not an uncommon problem. First, check the temperature which should be between -10F and +10F. Refrigerator temperatures should be 36F to 45F. Adjust the temperature accordingly.
Try rearranging the food as temperatures can vary in different compartments. Check for a warn gasket by putting a piece of paper between the gasket and frame as you close the door. If it slips out easily, you need a new door gasket.
Refrigerator Runs too Much: The thermostat controls the compressor, turning it on and off as needed. The compressor will run until the temperature is lower than the thermostat setting.
A new refrigerator will run for a long time, almost constantly, before it cools enough to maintain the desired temperature, about 24 hours. Keep the refrigerator at least half to two-thirds full to help maintain a stable temperature. If you have a small family and cannot keep it full, fill the space with jugs of water. The cold items inside will help maintain the temperature as the door is opened and closed.
Make sure the refrigerator has air clearance on all sides. Refrigerators with a condenser coil on the back need room to radiate heat away from the coils. Make sure the light is turning off when the door is closed as it can warm the interior of the refrigerator. Push the switch with the door open and if the light stays on, fix or replace the switch.
The refrigerator will run more if the room is hot and humid or if you have just put a lot of warm food into it. If the compressor does not shut off when the temperature is cold enough, it may need to be replaced. A refrigerator thermometer can help you determine an ideal setting to keep food cold and prevent the compressor from running too much.
If the problem is low levels of refrigerant, you will need to contact an appliance repair professional who is EPA certified to work on a sealed system. Attempting to repair this problem yourself will void the warranty.
Extend the life of the refrigerator with some simple refrigerator maintenance tips from the local expert.
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