What is the first thing to check when a refrigerator stops working?

The first thing to check when a refrigerator stops working is the power supply. Make sure that the refrigerator is plugged in properly and that the outlet is functioning. If the power supply is not the problem, then you may need to troubleshoot other possible causes, such as the thermostat, the compressor, the fan, or the defrost system. In this article, we will explain how to identify and fix some common refrigerator problems.

How to check the power supply

The power supply is the most basic and easy thing to check when your refrigerator stops working. Sometimes, the refrigerator may be accidentally unplugged or the cord may be damaged. To check the power supply, follow these steps:

  • Locate the power cord and make sure that it is securely plugged into the outlet.
  • If the cord is plugged in, try to wiggle it gently and see if the refrigerator turns on or off. If it does, then the cord may be loose or faulty and needs to be replaced.
  • If the cord is not the problem, then check the outlet itself. Use a multimeter or a voltage tester to measure the voltage of the outlet. It should be between 110 and 120 volts. If the voltage is too low or too high, then the outlet may be defective and needs to be repaired by a professional electrician.
  • If the outlet is working fine, then check the circuit breaker or the fuse box. Sometimes, the circuit breaker may trip or the fuse may blow due to a power surge or a short circuit. Locate the circuit breaker or the fuse that controls the refrigerator and see if it is in the on position. If it is not, then flip it back on or replace the fuse.

If you have checked the power supply and it is not the cause of the refrigerator problem, then you may need to look for other possible issues.

How to check the thermostat

The thermostat is the device that regulates the temperature inside the refrigerator. If the thermostat is not working properly, then the refrigerator may not cool enough or may freeze the food. To check the thermostat, follow these steps:

  • Locate the thermostat dial inside the refrigerator and see what setting it is on. The recommended setting is usually between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit for the fresh food compartment and between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit for the freezer compartment.
  • If the thermostat is set too high or too low, then adjust it to the optimal setting and wait for a few hours to see if the temperature changes.
  • If the thermostat is set correctly, but the temperature is still not right, then the thermostat may be faulty and needs to be replaced. You can test the thermostat by using a multimeter or a thermometer. First, unplug the refrigerator and remove the thermostat from its housing. Then, use the multimeter to measure the resistance of the thermostat. It should change as you rotate the dial. If the resistance does not change, then the thermostat is bad and needs to be replaced. Alternatively, you can use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the thermostat. Place the thermostat in a glass of ice water and wait for a few minutes. Then, check the temperature of the thermostat. It should be close to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is not, then the thermostat is bad and needs to be replaced.
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How to check the compressor

The compressor is the heart of the refrigerator. It is the device that compresses the refrigerant and circulates it through the coils. If the compressor is not working properly, then the refrigerator may not cool at all or may make loud noises. To check the compressor, follow these steps:

  • Locate the compressor at the back or the bottom of the refrigerator and listen for any unusual sounds. A normal compressor should make a humming or a buzzing sound. If the compressor makes a clicking, rattling, or grinding sound, then it may be damaged or worn out and needs to be replaced.
  • If the compressor is silent, then it may not be getting power or it may be overheated. Check the power supply and the thermostat as described above. If they are not the problem, then check the overload relay and the start capacitor. These are the devices that help the compressor start and run. They are usually attached to the side of the compressor. To check them, you will need a multimeter. First, unplug the refrigerator and remove the overload relay and the start capacitor from the compressor. Then, use the multimeter to measure the resistance of the overload relay and the capacitance of the start capacitor. The overload relay should have a low resistance and the start capacitor should have a high capacitance. If they do not, then they are bad and need to be replaced.

How to check the fan

The fan is the device that blows air over the coils and distributes it inside the refrigerator. If the fan is not working properly, then the refrigerator may not cool evenly or may frost up. To check the fan, follow these steps:

  • Locate the fan at the back or the bottom of the refrigerator and see if it is spinning. If the fan is not spinning, then it may be blocked by dust or debris. Use a vacuum cleaner or a brush to clean the fan and remove any obstructions.
  • If the fan is spinning, but not fast enough, then it may be weak or faulty and needs to be replaced. You can test the fan by using a multimeter or a paper clip. First, unplug the refrigerator and disconnect the fan from its wiring. Then, use the multimeter to measure the voltage of the fan. It should be between 110 and 120 volts. If it is not, then the fan is bad and needs to be replaced. Alternatively, you can use a paper clip to spin the fan manually. If the fan spins easily, then it is good. If the fan is hard to spin or does not spin at all, then it is bad and needs to be replaced.
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How to check the defrost system

The defrost system is the device that prevents the coils from freezing up. It consists of a defrost timer, a defrost heater, and a defrost thermostat. If the defrost system is not working properly, then the refrigerator may not cool well or may leak water. To check the defrost system, follow these steps:

  • Locate the defrost timer at the back or the bottom of the refrigerator and see if it is advancing. The defrost timer is a device that controls how often and how long the defrost cycle runs. It should advance every 6 to 8 hours and run for about 20 to 30 minutes. If the defrost timer is not advancing, then it may be stuck or faulty and needs to be replaced. You can test the defrost timer by using a screwdriver or a coin. First, unplug the refrigerator and remove the defrost timer from its housing. Then, use the screwdriver or the coin to turn the dial on the defrost timer. It should click and start the defrost cycle. If it does not, then the defrost timer is bad and needs to be replaced.
  • If the defrost timer is advancing, but the defrost cycle is not working, then check the defrost heater and the defrost thermostat. These are the devices that heat up and melt the ice on the coils. They are usually located behind the back panel of the freezer compartment. To check them, you will need a multimeter. First, unplug the refrigerator and remove the back panel of the freezer compartment. Then, use the multimeter to measure the resistance of the defrost heater and the defrost thermostat. The defrost heater should have a low resistance and the defrost thermostat should have a high resistance when cold and a low resistance when warm. If they do not, then they are bad and need to be replaced.
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Conclusion

In this article, we have explained how to check the power supply, the thermostat, the compressor, the fan, and the defrost system when your refrigerator stops working. These are some of the most common refrigerator problems and their possible solutions. However, if you are not comfortable or confident with doing these repairs yourself, then you should contact a professional appliance repair service. They have the experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness to handle any refrigerator issue. Remember, a refrigerator is a complex and expensive appliance that requires proper care and maintenance. By following these tips, you can extend the life and performance of your refrigerator and save money on energy bills and repair costs.