What Would Cause a Refrigerator to Stop Getting Cold?

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Refrigerators are designed to keep your foods and drinks cool to make them last longer. However, they sometimes simply stop working at the required temperature, allowing the contents to go bad sooner than expected.

While some issues need a professional repairman, you can still fix most of the common problems that make your refrigerator stop cooling. Keep reading and we will tell you what to look for and what to do to make the fridge do what it's supposed to once more.

The Problem

Your refrigerator is working well for years until one day when you get a can of soda only to realize that it's barely cold.

You check again a day later, and it's still not cooling properly. If that's the case, you need someone to fix it, but before you call the service center, try narrowing down the cause. Some problems require only a few minutes to fix, and you don't need to be a professional to do it.

Is Your Fridge Getting Enough Power?

It might sound like a dumb question, but you should start accessing the damage by checking the power cord. It could have become loose in the outlet, cutting off the power supply.

Plug it back into the outlet and open the door on your fridge. If the light comes on, it's not the cord. If it doesn't, check if any of the breakers flipped on your electrical panel. If that's not the case, move on to the second possibility.

Is the Thermostat Working?

The optimal temperature for a fridge is 35° to 37° F. You can change the temperature with a dial on the thermostat that is located inside of the fridge. Sometimes, when you put stuff back into the fridge, you may have rotated the thermostat dial unintentionally. The thermostat will then adjust the temperature accordingly, making the fridge stop cooling.

Sure, it's a long shot, but people have that problem all the time. Even if your fridge has an external thermostat, the temperatures could get mixed up. Check the temperature readings on your thermostat. If it's above the average cooling level, reset the thermostat and your fridge could start working normally again.

Check the Seals on the Door

The rubber seals (gaskets) on the doors are one of the usual suspects that cause your refrigerator to stop cooling. They tend to lose flexibility over time and become dry. That leads to cracking and warping, which would allow the cold air to escape from the fridge.

When that happens, the gaskets are unable to stick to the doors. If you realize that the doors open and close easier than before, or if they don't close fully without extra force, you need to replace the gaskets.

The fix is quick and easy and you don't need any previous experience to take care of this problem. Refrigerator door gaskets cost about $50. The challenge is in finding the right ones. Check your user manual to see which gaskets you need, and it will probably have instructions on how to change them.

What Would Cause a Refrigerator to Stop Getting Cold

Make Sure Your Fridge Is Level

Something as simple as an uneven floor can cause your fridge to stop cooling. If the floor isn't flat, the door won't be able to close correctly, and that can cause air to leak. The doors are usually heavy, and they sometimes don't close as they should if one side is lower than the other.

Get a carpenter's leveler and put it on top of the fridge. Look at the bubble and if it's not perfectly centered, keep adjusting the legs on your fridge until it is. Most refrigerators have legs that you can adjust with a wrench. Level it out and see if that fixes the problem.

Clean the Condenser Coils

The condenser coils on any fridge are filled with freon, which is the same gas used in air conditioning units. Those coils are usually made of copper and they can also get damaged over time.

Since they are typically located on the back of the fridge, they can burn out because of pet fur, dust, hair, lint and so on. That leads to cracks in the coils which allow the refrigerant to escape and your fridge will stop cooling properly.

Prevent that from happening by cleaning the condenser coils at least twice a year. Get a coil condenser brush at your local hardware store, and you also need a vacuum cleaner.

Use the vacuum to remove all of the spider webs, dust, fur, from the back of the fridge. Then, get the brush and carefully clean the condenser coils. If you see any cracks, you will need to call someone to fix the issue.

Make Sure That the Air Vents are Not Blocked

You should install your fridge in such a way that there are a few inches of space between it and the wall to allow air to circulate. If something is blocking the airflow, heat may build up and affect the heat exchange properties of the evaporator, in which case your fridge won't be able to provide a constant temperature.

In addition, locate the air vents inside of your fridge and check if something is blocking them. You could have block them by overstuffing the fridge. Having a few milk cartons at the back of the shelves can block the air from coming into the fridge.

If your fridge has a freezer compartment, frost can block the vents as well. If there's a lot of frost inside the freezer, unplug the fridge and wait until it melts. Don't use a fork or a knife to remove the frost yourself because you can cause more damage than good.

Call a Repairman If the Problem Continues

If nothing on this list helped you figure out what the problem is, you should call a professional for help. Know that most repair jobs cost $100 just for the diagnosis, so be ready to shell out a few hundred dollars, depending on the severity of the problem.

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