Common refrigerator problems

3 common refrigerator problems you can easily fix yourself

The refrigerator is easily one of the most important appliances in your home. Making sure it keeps running smoothly is vital (particularly in summer)to keeping food in your home fresh.

But if you know how a fridge generally works then you know there are many components that could potentially malfunction.

Here are a few common issues you may run into with your refrigerator and the simple fixes you should try before hiring a professional.

Problem: It seems to be running constantly

A refrigerator that constantly runs is not only noisy, it can also affect your wallet. The refrigerator is already one of the most power-intensive appliance in your home, and allowing it to run more than it should can send your energy bill sky high.

Cause: One of the most common causes of a refrigerator running too much (or worse, constantly), especially if you live in an extra dusty environment or have several pets, is a buildup of debris and dust around the condenser coils.

Fix: First, cut power to the refrigerator. For most refrigerators, the condenser coils are located on the very bottom and they’re typically accessed in the front or back. (Some newer models, however, have internal coils.) To access the coils, look for the grill and remove it by popping out the snaps which hold it in place (or unscrewing it where applicable). Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the brunt of the buildup. If there is a lot of leftover debris, use a brush or a wipe cloth to gently remove the remaining debris. Replace the grill and restore power to the refrigerator.

Cause: Setting the refrigerator temperature too low will not only cause your refrigerator to work overtime, it can also freeze and spoil some of your foods.

Fix: You typically want your refrigerator to operate at between 2 and 5 degrees Celsius). Place a thermometer inside  the refrigerator in the middle shelf and let it sit for at least 5 hours. Periodically adjust the temperature setting on your refrigerator to slowly bring it to the desired temperature. If this does not solve the issue, consult with a professional, as you may have a defective part, such as a condenser, thermostat or fan motor.

Here are important considerations:

  • The door is the warmest place in your fridge
  • The bottom shelf is the coolest spot
  • Keeping food items spaced out will promote air circulation (which will keep your food — and entire fridge — cool)
  • The bottom drawers’ humidity settings should be adjusted based on what’s being stored

Problem: It’s leaking water

Water pooling up under your refrigerator is never a good sign, but it is also a fairly common occurrence and can usually be resolved relatively easily. Water leakage typically comes from one of two problems.

Cause: A blocked defrost drain is one of the most common causes of water leakage. This happens when food particles or other debris clogs up the drain hose, which can lead to ice buildup and, eventually, water leaking out of the freezer and refrigerator.

Fix: First, try flushing the drain from inside the freezer with warm water, using a turkey baster or a small funnel. You can also try using a pipe cleaner or a straightened coat hanger to forcibly remove the clog. If this doesn’t fix the problem you may need to manually remove the debris that is clogging the check valve at the end of the drain hose.

Pull your refrigerator out from the wall and locate the defrost drain hose in the bottom back service panel. This hose should have a rubber check valve, which helps regulate humidity and is known for catching debris and clogging. Clean the valve out with hot water and soap, and reinstall the valve.

Cause: Occasionally, a clogged or frozen water supply line will cause water to puddle beneath the refrigerator. It will also affect ice production from the ice maker and slow or stop water flow from the dispenser.

Fix: First, unplug the refrigerator and locate the water supply. Make sure this supply is closed, and look for any leaks, kinks, or clogs in the plastic supply line.

If there is a break or tear in the line, replace the water supply line. If you see a translucent blockage, leave the refrigerator unplugged for approximately 2 hours to remove the clog. If the clog is anything but clear, consult with a professional before trying to remove the clog. Once the line has defrosted, plug the refrigerator back in and push it back to the wall.

Problem: There’s ice buildup in freezer

If the inside of your freezer is building up with lots of frost or ice. There are a few causes for a sudden frost on the inside of your freezer, and some quick, simple fixes.

Cause: Leaving the freezer door open too long can raise the humidity level inside the freezer, resulting in frost and ice buildup.

Fix: Don’t leave the freezer door open longer than necessary. If you open the freezer or refrigerator doors and they don’t close on their own, this could be the cause of the frost. To resolve this, pull the refrigerator out from the wall and have someone lean the refrigerator back far enough for you to reach the two front levelling feet. Screw both feet out a few turns. This will ensure the unit leans back slightly, the doors close on their own and that collecting water is properly draining from the freezer and refrigerator. If this does not solve the issue, you may have a malfunctioning defrost timer or thermostat.

Cause: A faulty door seal can also result in unwanted frost.

Fix: First, try cleaning the seal using warm water, soap, and a wash cloth. Use a towel to dry the seal and the surrounding areas, and close the freezer. If this doesn’t work, it is quite likely the seals need replacing. Be sure to get the exact measurements and type (screw in or clip in)of the door seals before placing an order for new seals.