How to Repair a Refrigerator

There are refrigerators that are twenty years old that are still on the job. Even though they have hundreds of parts, refrigerators are among the longest lasting of appliances. If you want yours to continue to be trouble free, here are several TLC steps to keep it working well.

1. Clean the condenser coils regularly. Some are located on the back of the refrigerator and others are underneath. A vacuum with a brush attachment does a good job. While you are vacuuming, remove dust from the compressor and the condenser fan, both of which are underneath.

2. Check the temperature in both the freezer and refrigerator. The freezer range should be between 0 and 5ˇă F. The food compartment should be around 35ˇă F. If these goals are not met, and everything is working right, it’s just a matter of adjustment. There is a dial for each of these two areas.

refrigerator repair How to Repair a Refrigerator

3. Keep an eye on the frost buildup in the freezer compartment. A layer of frost will act as an insulator and cut down on efficiency. If the frosty freezer is supposed to be frost-free, locate the defrost timer unit. Turn its dial until it clicks. It should start a defrost cycle.

4. If the freezer is not frost-free, you should manually defrost when a 1/4-inch layer of frost builds up.

Here are the most common refrigerator troubles and what to do about them:

Refrigerator is noisy-There are two or sometimes three fans. One is in the freezer. The others are underneath. Check for loose mountings, a bent blade, or whether lubrication is needed. The compressor is on rubber mounts that act as a sort of shock absorber. If these mounts are not properly anchored, tighten them up. Also, you should check to see if the unit is level. There should be leveling screws in the base. Lastly, there may be items on top of the unit that rattle from the vibration while the compressor is running.

Food Storage area too warm – The food storage section in most home units gets its cool from the freezing compartment. The control dial for the refrigerator opens or closes a sort of door that controls the opening size of the air duct. If this doesn’t correct the temperature, it may be that the linkage to the opening is broken and should be replaced. Or, the light stays on after the door is closed and is adding heat to the unit. Press the button with a finger and if the light stays on, replace the button switch. Or, the door is not sealing and warm air from the room is getting in.

Excessive frost build-up-We just talked about defrosting, but another reason for this problem could be a faulty gasket on the freezer door.

Water is leaking out under the unit-The defrost condensate system is clogged. Pour a few tablespoons of bleach into the condensate drain line. Or, the tube may not be aimed into the pan. Check to be sure the pan is in the proper location. Also check the icemaker connection.

Icemaker not working-The icemaker switch may be in the “off” position. More likely, there is no water getting into the icemaker. Follow the water line tube to where it is connected to the water supply, probably under the sink. At that point, there is a small shut off valve. Shut it off and disconnect it from where it enters the refrigerator. While holding the end over a pan, turn the water back on. If nothing comes out, the trouble is in the line. Look for kinks. If the line is OK, take the valve out and take it apart, looking for mineral deposits. There will be a small screen that catches any solids before they get into the valve. If it is clogged, that could be the problem. Soak all the parts in vinegar to dissolve minerals. The valve is controlled by a solenoid that may be faulty.

Icemaker turns out cloudy cubes-Water is loaded with minerals. Install an in-line filter. It’s inexpensive and is a do-it-yourself project.

Cubes are too small-Inadequate water supply, which we just covered.


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