Adrian Cruce

7 Common Refrigerator Problems Homeowners Encounter

Home, home problems, refrigerator

If you’re having trouble with your refrigerator, you’re not alone. In 2018, more than 99.8% of Americans owned a refrigerator, and they experienced some common refrigerator issues as well.

You don’t have to worry for we are here to help! From noisy compressors to condenser coils that need cleaning, we’ll explore some of the most common issues and how to resolve them.

But how would you know if you’re “abusing” your fridge? And what problems might arise?

We’ve assembled this helpful article to tell you what you should look out for. Here’s your guide to common refrigerator problems homeowners encounter.

1. Not Running at All

Being the most obvious, we put this issue on top of the list. A refrigerator without power won’t have any compressor noise, coldness, or lights. A power outage or open breaker can be the initial cause of refrigerator shutdown.

But before calling out home services, try a few steps. The first thing to do is to check if the power cord is correctly plugged into the outlet that gives it power. Turn on the appliance to see if it starts running, if not, turn it off, unplug the cord, and repeat the process once more.

If this fails, inspect the main outlet breaker to see if your breakers are working fine. If the breakers are good, the outlet into which the appliance connects is in proper condition. You can now assume that the refrigerator needs repair.

If something more serious happens, seek professional help urgently. It’s best to leave such refrigerator problems with a professional to prevent more damage. Find the best appliance repair here.

2. Fridge Has a Broken Seal and the Door Won’t Close Completely

You may have noticed that food is rotting inside, and the door won’t close completely. Chances are you have broken door seals. A poor seal around the door can leak air and spoil food items in your fridge.

But to prove this issue, try a few measures. First, make sure that you have the proper temperature settings. Most refrigerators should be set at around 34 degrees Fahrenheit, rotting and molds should not appear in this condition.

If your refrigerator cannot maintain this temperature, hook up a separate thermometer to the fridge. This will confirm if the compartment temperature readings are consistent or not. In case the readings are indeed inconsistent, the seals are broken.

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Fixing a refrigerator with broken seal must be done immediately. Using masking tape or tying an elastic band around the fridge may temporarily help. You can also replace the seal or gasket on your own.

3. Freezer Is Too Cold or Not Cooling at All

The freezer should be set at 0°F (-18°C) or below. The temperature setting is available from the top of the freezer. It might not be working properly if it is too cold or not cooling at all. 

If it is too warm, turn off the power to the appliance and let it sit for an hour before turning it on again. The refrigerator may be warm due to its condenser coils being dirty or iced. It would be best if you began by cleaning those while ensuring the condenser motor is running correctly.

If the evaporator coil is not cleaned regularly, ice and dirt can accumulate, which can clog the coil. This can lead to inefficient cooling and your fridge’s inability to stay cool. If it is iced over, you’ll have to defrost the coils for the appliance to resume functioning.

To defrost your fridge or freezer, unplug it. Put some towels on the floor around it to catch any water that builds up. This will take about 24 hours. If the problem persists, a professional should inspect the unit.

4. Defrosted Frozen Food Spill 

When a food spill occurs inside the refrigerator, it can be very frustrating. It is also a time-consuming task to clean up. But with these few simple steps, your refrigerator will be back to its original state in no time.

What You Need:

  • Damp Cloth or Sponge
  • A Vacuum Cleaner
  • A Bowl of Hot Water
  • Cleaning Solution
  • Clean Cloths
  • Sponge/ Disposable Scrubber
  • Bucket With Lid

Remove the shelf in the spot where the food spilled. Turn off the refrigerator, and remove all shelves and racks.

Remove all the drawers and shelves from your refrigerator. Clean the surface that has been covered in ice by hand. If you have a lot of spillages, many pieces of ice may require multiple passes to remove thoroughly. You may also need to break or cut large chunks into smaller pieces if they are too big for your hand to hold comfortably.

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As you work, use caution so as not to damage further any existing freezer vents or other surfaces inside the fridge with tools. Use an ice scraper to remove loose ice and clean the surface of your fridge before it has a chance to refreeze.

5. Unusual Noises 

Fridge noise is one of the common refrigerator issues that come in different forms. This can range from a light humming sound to a loud knocking noise.

Noise may come from squeaky doors to other loose parts of the refrigerator. Loose screws, misaligned doors, or rusty hinges could be the culprit. These are evident in most broken refrigerators. 

Cooling coils can sometimes contribute to humming noises. But the only solution for this is to be replacing them professionally.

A squealing sound from your fridge’s fan can be a warning sign of a potential problem. The noise will eventually lead to the freezer stopping completely. This could mean that the refrigerator’s condenser fan is not running properly and needs to be fixed or replaced. 

Condenser fans can get clogged with a variety of things. Clogging may lead to making loud noises and poor airflow. Disconnect the fridge from the power source, then take off the panel on the back of it. You can use a brush or hand towel to clean that cooling fan, then put that cover plate back on.

Compressors may also exhibit humming or buzzing noises at times. This may be an indication of a compressor that is working too hard. 

A faulty refrigerator thermostat can also be one of the reasons. But we can leave this issue in the hands of authorized maintenance specialists.

6. Uneven Ice Distribution in the Freezer

Our freezers are so useful during summer for serving us with ice. But when the ice starts to form unevenly in your freezer, it can cause some refrigerator issues. So what could be the problem?

The first thing to inspect is the temperature setting on your freezer. If you have a dial, ensure the temperature is below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

A freezer door left open for too long could lead to ice buildup as well. It causes humidity levels in that area to rise above the normal level. So always close the freezer door to avoid huge humidity buildup when you’re done accessing it.

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Find out if your freezer has a faulty seal, letting in air from the outside. To ensure it holds the correct temperatures, you should replace its seal.

Inspect for any obstructions inside your freezer. Small food particles or ice buildups may have accumulated, so try removing them.

Next, ensure that nothing isn’t blocking your vents or fan from working. Air convection coming from them is the one keeping the temperature balance inside the freezer. If all these measures don’t solve the problem, do not hesitate to visit a service center.

7. Fridge Bad Odors

Do you also notice foul smells coming from your fridge? Bad odors are also a problem shared by many freezers.

One possible source may be leftover foods and uncleaned residues, especially if it takes a long time for us to clean our appliances. These odors cling inside the refrigeration area and bins longer.

Another cause may also be the drain containers at the back of some units.  Some drain basins can fill up easily with a mix of frozen meat juices when defrosting. 

Fortunately, there are some practical means to solve this. Using a baking soda-vinegar mixture can help do the job. Use it in place of the typical chlorine solutions to remove lingering bacteria.  

Another way to do this is with a baking soda and water mixture. Use these mixtures to clean the bins in your refrigerator. The drawers are in different places, so be sure you know where it is to wipe down the surfaces that might get smelly.

Keeping things like onions, garlic, and peppers from getting too old and moldy can help as well. Put these items in freezer bags that you can seal shut with a rubber band or twist tie. This will keep out any of the smells associated with these foods.

Look Out For These Refrigerator Problems

Refrigerators just like any other appliances are susceptible to problems. These refrigerator problems include faulty refrigerator doors, broken seals, freezer not working properly, food spills, bad odor, uneven ice distribution, and unusual noises. Be sure to address these problems immediately and call professionals to prevent further damage.

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