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Not Cool: What to Do When Freezer Works But Fridge Doesn’t

Not Cool: What to Do When Freezer Works But Fridge Doesn’t

Woman standing in front of open fridgeHave you ever gone to grab the milk for your morning cereal, only to find the refrigerator no longer feels cool? Stranger still, your freezer seems to be doing its job like always. If your freezer is working fine but your fridge is on the fritz, here are a few potential causes and how best to resolve the issue.

7 Reasons Why the Fridge Is Not Cold But the Freezer Is

If your ice cream is solid, but your deli meats are suspiciously…warm, you’re likely wondering what’s going on (and you may also be left with a mess to clean up). When the fridge is not cold but the freezer is, one of your refrigerator’s mechanisms may not be working as designed.

1. Evaporator fan

Every refrigerator contains a set of coils called an evaporator, which makes the inside of the fridge cold. A small fan and motor are mounted near the evaporator, helping draw air over the coils and circulate it to the fridge and freezer. If this fan fails, you’ll likely be stuck with a warm refrigerator.

2. Defrost system

When the defrost heater burns out, or the defrost thermostat fails, frost can build up on the evaporator coils. As these coils become frosted over, eventually, no air will be able to pass through to provide cooling.

3. Damper control

The damper control is an automatic or manually operated door that opens and closes to allow more or less cold air into the refrigerator. If this door is stuck or broken, it won’t let in enough cold air to maintain a proper temperature.

4. Thermistor

A thermistor is essentially a temperature sensor used in refrigerators and freezers. The sensor sends the temperature reading from the fridge to the control board, but if it’s defective, the refrigerator will likely not cool.

5. Condenser Coil

Condenser coils constantly expel heat out of the fridge to maintain the right temperature. When they become clogged by things like dust, dirt, and pet hair, heat removal becomes difficult. The result — a warm refrigerator.

6. Temperature control board

The control board is like the ‘brains’ of the refrigerator, monitoring temperature sensors, kickstarting the compressor and fans, and regulating the defrost cycle. A failed board will misread the temperature sensors, and the fridge will be unable to cool correctly.

7. Overstuffing the fridge

While this may not be a mechanism problem, a filled-to-the-brim fridge could be at the root of your issue. Your refrigerator contains various vents that enable cold airflow. If these vents become blocked, airflow may become limited, preventing proper cooling. The effect: a warm refrigerator and working freezer.

7 Suggestions For What To Do When The Fridge Is Not Working

The above list covers the most common reasons why the top or bottom freezer is working even when the fridge isn’t. From here, consult your owner’s manual to locate each component. Then, take a look at corresponding suggestions to detect which mechanism is malfunctioning and what to do about it.

Note: When attempting any refrigerator troubleshooting steps, always be sure to unplug your fridge before engaging with any components.

1. Inspect your evaporator fan.

To determine if your evaporator fan motor is faulty, start by locating this component. Most evaporator fans can be found behind the back of the freezer. Once located, try turning the fan blade by hand. If the blade does not turn freely or seems unusually noisy, you’ll want to replace it. A multimeter can also be used to test the motor windings for continuity. If continuity is lacking, a replacement may also be in order.

2. Check the defrost system.

If you check the evaporator coils and it turns out they’re frosted over, you’ll want to test each component of the defrost system (defrost heater, defrost thermostat, defrost timer). To temporarily get the fridge up and running, remove the rear panel of the freezer and remove all the built-up frost (pouring hot water over the coils is best). If things cool down but fail again after a few days, you may have to replace one or more parts of the defrost system.

3. Ensure your damper control is functioning properly.

Checking to see if there’s an issue with the damper is fairly easy — simply stick your hand in front of the vent to test it out. If you don’t feel cool air flowing into the fridge (but you know the evaporator fan is working), the damper is likely stuck or in a closed position. If the vent is removable, try taking it out and manually moving the damper. Should neither of these tips prove successful, you may need to call in a professional for repairs.

4. Test your thermistor.

Similar to the evaporator fan, the thermistor can be tested with a multimeter. The thermistor resistance should change in conjunction with the temperature of the refrigerator; if the resistance does not change or does not have continuity, the thermistor may need to be replaced.

5. Inspect and clean the condenser coil.

Generally, condenser coils can be found in the bottom or back of the refrigerator. Consult your owner’s manual to be sure. Once you’ve located them, check to see if you have dirty condenser coils. If so, unplug your refrigerator, and use a small vacuum attachment to clear them out. Next, use a coil cleaning solution and water for cleaning. Dry the coils with a clean cloth, and plug in the fridge. Still experiencing refrigerator problems? Move to the next step.

6. Have your temperature control board looked at by a professional.

Since the temperature control board is less likely to be the cause of a non-working refrigerator, it’s important to check on the more frequently broken components first. If numbers 1-5 are functioning as they should, a professional may need to diagnose the problem or install a new board.

7. Declutter your fridge

Something as simple as an overstuffed refrigerator can be at the heart of why the fridge is not cold, but the freezer is. Remove expired items, get rid of things you no longer need, and, if necessary, consider getting a supplemental mini-fridge for added space and storage.

Get a Refrigerator Upgrade at Rent-A-Center

There are many online tutorials to assist you in tackling these fixes on your own. But rather than diving into a possible DIY disaster or spending money to repair an old appliance, why not upgrade to a fully functional, budget-friendly name-brand refrigerator from Rent-A-Center?

With Rent-A-Center, you’ll get free repairs and replacements for the duration of your rent-to-own agreement, an amazing deal and a much simpler solution for those times when your freezer works but the fridge doesn’t. Plus, with our flexible payment options and free same-day delivery**, you don’t have to let your groceries spoil, or your wages go to waste. Instead, check out all that your local Rent-A-Center has to offer online or in-store today!

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