The household fridge has one job and one job only: to keep everything cold.
So, what do you do when your fridge is no longer cooling and therefore becomes a completely useless appliance to have in your kitchen?
Thankfully, there are some common causes for the refrigerator not cooling and they’re pretty easy to fix, so it doesn’t mean you need a new one altogether.
Why is your refrigerator not cooling?
The most likely cause of a refrigerator that can’t cool is due to simple fixes like the thermostat being turned down or the door not sealing correctly which allows cold air to escape.
However, there are more complex issues like a bad compressor, clogged condenser coils, or a faulty fan, that could also be to blame.
If you’ve noticed your food feeling warm, drinks not being chilled, or items turning bad well before their expiration date, you’ll need to do some troubleshooting in your fridge.
Check out our list of the top 10 reasons your refrigerator might not be keeping things ice-cold anymore and see what you can do about it.
If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of most common reasons, we got you covered:
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- 1 #9: No Electricity
- 2 #8: Wrong Temperature Setting
- 3 #7: Food Stored Incorrectly
- 4 #6: Clogged Vents
- 5 #5: Frost Free Fault
- 6 #4: Condenser Coils
- 7 #3: Door Doesn’t Close
- 8 #2: Broken Thermostat
- 9 #1: Damaged Door Switch
- 10 Related Questions
#9: No Electricity
Sure, this might sound like a given, but it’s actually a pretty common solution to a broken appliance.
We’re not talking about the obvious here, meaning that the fridge isn’t plugged into the electrical socket, but we are saying there could be a fault that’s causing the power to cut out.
If you can notice any obvious signs of fraying or broken cords, shut it off immediately at the wall socket and call a fridge technician.
This is probably where your less-than-cool fridge is coming from, and it can be extremely dangerous to leave an electrical fault like this and hope for it to fix itself.
#8: Wrong Temperature Setting
If your sodas have been less than cold and your ice cream appears to be melting before you even take it out of the freezer, it could be an issue with the fridge’s temperature control.
Most people don’t realize the exact temperatures that fridges and freezers need to be to keep everything fresh, so take a quick look at the thermostat before you go to the worst-case scenario.
As a guide, the refrigerator should be set at around 32 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer around 1.4 degrees. Anything warmer than this and it’ll be glaringly obvious in the state of your food, and if it’s too cold, you’ll find things frozen that aren’t meant to be so.
#7: Food Stored Incorrectly
A fridge might seem like a vast and open space that’s just waiting to be stocked with all of your favorite foods, but they do have their limits.
A simple fix that can be easily solved with some tricky maneuvering has to do with the vents inside the fridge not getting enough airflow.
The airflow can be restricted when the fridge is too full which results in serious heating up inside. As the many food items you have stocks up, those on top are the only ones getting cool, so everything underneath the surface is warm to the touch.
To resolve it, shift the items around so the shelves have an even distribution of food and make sure none of the air vents are restricted.
#6: Clogged Vents
If you own a fridge and freezer combination, your cold air issue could be coming from the vents that join them.
These vents are in place to ensure the cold air flows freely from the freezer and into the fridge, and if it gets clogged with ice or other debris, this flow doesn’t happen which means your fridge can’t cool down.
Luckily, this can be easily fixed just by turning off your refrigerator and letting the ice inside the clogged vents melt or going in to take a look while it’s unplugged from the electrical socket.
#5: Frost Free Fault
Most fridges come with a special function that prevents frost build-up, and it’s one of the more modern features that have made owning a fridge a lot easier.
That doesn’t mean it’s perfect though, and there’s a good chance if it isn’t being as cool as it should be, that’s it’s due to the frost build up around the fridge’s evaporator coils.
An evaporator coil then impacts the evaporator fan which is responsible for circulating the cold air around the fridge and freezer.
When this fan becomes damaged after coming into contact with the frost that’s built up, it starts making a loud, whirring sound and will fail to keep your fridge cold.
#4: Condenser Coils
The condenser coils in your fridge sometimes referred to as compressor coils, are an important part and detailed part of the cooling process.
Here, the compressor pushes the refrigerant vapor into the evaporator coils found on the back of the fridge. This pressure creates heat and gas, which then cools to absorb heat, and then turns back into a liquid.
Without this running properly, there’s no way for the heat to be absorbed and temperatures are sure to increase. These coils can be become clogged easily and when they do, the air no longer circulates and it doesn’t do the cooling down part of its job.
#3: Door Doesn’t Close
This is an all too common problem with fridges and one that can be responsible for many of their problems, not just a cooling issue.
The door on a fridge must be sealed shut for the food to stay fresh and temperatures to remain where they need to be, however, a broken gasket can stop this from happening.
The gasket is the rubber strip around the edge of the fridge door, sometimes referred to as a seal. This should be airtight without leaks for the fridge to work as it should, but it can tear or become loose which allows the warm air from outside to come in.
Luckily, it’s an easy fix and a replacement part will get your fridge cooling like new again.
#2: Broken Thermostat
The first thing we normally check when the fridge is feeling warm is the thermostat, but what if it’s showing a perfect reading?
When the temperature on the thermostat doesn’t match the actual one, it could be a case of a broken thermostat.
A thermostat is nothing more than a thermometer and a central place to control the temperature, and it can be easily replaced if it’s faulty.
To test it out, place a thermometer inside the fridge to see what temperature it’s reading and then call for assistance from a professional about installing a new one.
#1: Damaged Door Switch
When you open the fridge, a light automatically turns on, and the temperature drops to save energy.
This handy mechanism makes it easy to see the food inside when you’re grabbing a snack and ensures the motor doesn’t burn out when the door is open and it’s trying to keep cool.
When the door switch that activates this change becomes damaged or has a fault, it no longer knows when to do it.
Therefore, you’re left with a fridge that thinks it’s in a perpetual state of openness, even once the door is closed, and a light that’s left on inside which can add further to the heat.
A fridge that doesn’t cool is no good to you or your kitchen but thankfully most of these issues can be rectified yourself at home with just a few simple tools.
We’ve answered some FAQs about fridges that don’t cool and other common issues you might have so you can find out the easiest fix.
How Do I Make My Fridge Cooler?
Fridges should be 32 degrees Fahrenheit for ideal conditions but each fridge has its own thermostat and temperature control.
There’s usually a dial inside the fridge that can be changed, and the higher the number the colder the temperature will be. If you don’t feel it’s cool enough, you can adjust it up one number and then wait a while to see if this feels better.
What’s the Coldest Part of a Fridge?
If you need to store something in the coldest part of the refrigerator, the bottom shelves and drawers will be the place to go.
As cold air sinks, it makes sense that these lower levels are cooler, but in modern frost-free fridges, they’ve been designed to circulate the air and ensure that all areas are the same temperature.