Not only is it annoying, but if your refrigerator is not cooling properly, it can potentially waste your stored food through spoilage and quality deterioration. There are a lot of reasons why your refrigerator is not blowing cold air as it should. The underlying causes range include mechanical issues and factors that are not in your control.
In this article, we will discuss the reasons why your refrigerator is not cooling, and how to troubleshoot this problem.
- Non-technical reasons why your refrigerator is not cooling properly
- Technical reasons why your refrigerator is not cooling properly
Non-technical reasons why your refrigerator is not cooling properly
The reason why your refrigerator is not cooling is not always serious or indicate a technical problem within your fridge. It may be through simple usage issues or certain uncontrollable circumstances that are causing the problem. Here are such reasons:
1. Your refrigerator is near a source of heat
To maintain the temperature inside the fridge, the refrigerator’s thermostat tells the compressor to either stop or start when it gets too cold or too warm. This is why you hear your refrigerator roaring back to life after a few moments of it being silent.
Additional sources of heat – like stoves, windows, other appliances, and the ambient temperature – can be picked up by the refrigerator’s thermostat and will interfere with its temperature regulation.
Putting your refrigerator in direct sunlight can also mess with its temperature regulation. This is the reason why we generally don’t recommend putting your fridge or freezer outside of your home.
2. High ambient temperature
Refrigerators are surrounded by an insulating material called cyclopentane to keep cold air from escaping via convection through the fridge walls to the outside world. It also keeps the warm temperature from affecting the environment inside the refrigerator. But on especially hot days, it may fail to do so if the ambient temperature is too high for the insulating material to contend with.
Yes, we know, it is annoying. But be glad to know that this is only temporary and your refrigerator is not broken at all.
3. You left the refrigerator door open
Leaving your refrigerator door open will have a number of side effects that you will have to handle. The most obvious one being the rush of warm air coming inside the refrigerator that will certainly affect its cooling performance.
Luckily for you, this usually won’t leave any lasting damage to your fridge. You’ll only need to unplug your refrigerator and wipe whatever moisture (fridge sweat) is left inside the compartments.
4. Items are blocking the air vent
Fan cooling (no frost) models have fans tucked inside the fridge and freezer compartments that distribute the air evenly throughout the refrigerator. If these fans are blocked by an object, it can reduce the flow of cold air to the other parts of the fridge which can make it seem like your fridge is not working properly.
To solve the problem, you’ll only need to move the item out of the way to ensure the proper flow of air.
5. You did not defrost your freezer
While a thin layer of frost in your freezer may seem harmless, it can reduce the performance level of your fridge and cost you money to boot.
Why though? Isn’t ice on the freezer a good thing?
Well, not really.
Thick frost on the freezer will hamper the evaporator’s job of heat transfer, and this can prevent it from absorbing the heat in the fridge. Better defrost your fridge ASAP!
Technical reasons why your refrigerator is not cooling properly
If any of the above reasons are not probable in your case, the problem may be due to improper maintenance and/or factory defects.
Some of this causes have a relatively simple troubleshooting procedures that you can try on your own. You can always call a technician when things get too complicated.
1. Gasket is not sealing properly
If the condensation is mostly concentrated around the edges of the fridge door, it may be an indication that there is something wrong with the gasket.
The gasket seal keeps the warm air from the outside from entering the refrigerator while the door is closed. If the gasket is broken on torn, it can leak warm air into the refrigerator which will cause moisture to build up.
Most gaskets can be easily replaced by yourself. However, if your unit is still under warranty, you can call a technician and have the gasket replaced.
2. Dirty condenser coil
The condenser coils “transfer” the heat from inside the refrigerator to its exterior.
During the course of its operation, the condenser fan accumulates dust, grime, and lint that can hamper its heat exchange function. Clean the condenser coils at least once every year to prevent the dust and grime from building up.
You can clean the coil this if you know your way around refrigerators. If not, you can call a technician to do it for you.
3. Broken blower fan
For no frost models, the evaporator fan is responsible for distributing the cold air throughout your refrigerator. If you do not fix this, your no frost refrigerator won’t cool properly.
The fan motor itself may also be malfunctioning; there may be something obstructing the evaporator fan, or it may have frozen solid. You should defrost your refrigerator first before calling in a technician.
4. You used the refrigerator immediately after delivery
Your refrigerator may have been laid sideways during transportation. While this is common practice, it can be a problem if you use the refrigerator immediately after receiving it.
When laid sideways, the oil can run off from the compressor to the cooling coils. Since the oil is thick and viscous, it can easily clog up the coils. This prevents the refrigerant gas from flowing through them and thus your refrigerator won’t cool.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to let the refrigerator rest upright (and unplugged) for the same amount of time that it was lying on its side. If you laid it on its side for 4 hours, then you should let it rest upright for 4 hours as well.
3. Freon leak
Freon is used as an agent in the heat transfer process of the fridge. If this leaks, then it will compromise the ability of your fridge to do its job as well as putting your health in jeopardy.
While there are a lot more common mechanical reasons why your refrigerator is not cooling, a Freon leak should not be taken out of the equation.
Call a technician right away!
4. Broken compressor
The compressor is called the “heart” of the refrigerator as it pumps the Freon (the blood in this case) throughout the coils embedded in the fridge.
Needless to say, if the compressor is not working, your refrigerator will not produce cold air as it should.
If you’ve switched on your refrigerator but do not hear any whirring sound or any movement at all, this may be the case.
Repairing or replacing the compressor of a refrigerator is a costly affair. Not only does the compressor cost as much as half of the price you bought the refrigerator for, but the labor cost is also significant owing to the complicated nature of the job.
As you’ve seen, there are a lot of reasons why your refrigerator is not cooling properly; most of these causes can be prevented by performing regular maintenance for your fridge. Have your refrigerator routinely checked by a technician at least once a year to be safe!
Miguel Mores worked for 5 years as a member of the product management team for a home appliance company in the Philippines. He started 101appliance to answer the most common customer questions that he has encountered during his time in the industry. He now works in the digital marketing field and manages a small online bookstore on the side.