Why is my refrigerator not getting cold? Reason Explained

If your refrigerator is not getting cold, the most common reason is a faulty thermostat or a dirty condenser coil. These are the two main components that regulate the temperature inside your fridge. If they are not working properly, your fridge will not be able to cool down your food and drinks. In this article, we will explain how to troubleshoot these problems and fix them yourself or with the help of a professional.

How does a refrigerator work?

Before we dive into the details of why your refrigerator is not getting cold, let us first understand how a refrigerator works. A refrigerator is a device that uses a refrigerant, a substance that changes from a liquid to a gas and back again, to transfer heat from one place to another. The refrigerant circulates through a closed loop of pipes and coils, called the refrigeration cycle, that consists of four main parts:

  • The compressor, which compresses the refrigerant gas and increases its pressure and temperature.
  • The condenser, which is a coil of metal tubes located at the back or bottom of the fridge, where the refrigerant gas releases its heat to the surrounding air and turns back into a liquid.
  • The expansion valve, which is a small device that controls the flow of the refrigerant liquid and lowers its pressure and temperature.
  • The evaporator, which is another coil of metal tubes located inside the fridge, where the refrigerant liquid absorbs heat from the food and drinks and turns back into a gas.

The refrigeration cycle repeats itself over and over, keeping the inside of the fridge cold and the outside warm.

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How to check the thermostat?

The thermostat is a device that senses the temperature inside the fridge and sends a signal to the compressor to turn on or off. If the thermostat is faulty, it may not sense the correct temperature or send the wrong signal, causing the compressor to run too much or too little. This can result in your fridge being too warm or too cold.

To check the thermostat, you will need a multimeter, a device that measures electrical voltage, resistance, and current. You can buy one online or at a hardware store. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Unplug the fridge from the power outlet and locate the thermostat. It is usually located inside the fridge, near the temperature control knob or dial.
  • Remove the thermostat cover and disconnect the wires from the terminals. Be careful not to touch the wires with your bare hands, as they may still have some electricity.
  • Set the multimeter to the ohms (Ω) setting and touch the probes to the terminals. You should see a reading on the screen. If the reading is zero or infinity, the thermostat is defective and needs to be replaced. If the reading is between 0 and 1, the thermostat is working properly.
  • If the thermostat is working properly, you can reconnect the wires and the cover and plug the fridge back in. If the thermostat is defective, you will need to buy a new one that matches the model and specifications of your fridge. You can find the model number on a sticker inside the fridge or on the back or bottom of the unit. You can order a new thermostat online or from a local appliance store. To replace the thermostat, follow the same steps as above, but in reverse order.
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How to clean the condenser coil?

The condenser coil is a coil of metal tubes that releases the heat from the refrigerant gas to the surrounding air. If the condenser coil is dirty, dusty, or clogged, it will not be able to release the heat efficiently, causing the refrigerant to stay hot and the fridge to stay warm.

To clean the condenser coil, you will need a vacuum cleaner, a soft brush, and a cloth. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Unplug the fridge from the power outlet and locate the condenser coil. It is usually located at the back or bottom of the fridge, behind a metal or plastic panel.
  • Remove the panel and use the vacuum cleaner to suck up any dust or debris from the coil. Be careful not to damage the coil with the vacuum nozzle or the brush.
  • Use the soft brush to gently scrub any stubborn dirt or grime from the coil. Do not use any water or chemicals, as they may damage the coil or cause corrosion.
  • Use the cloth to wipe off any remaining dust or dirt from the coil and the panel.
  • Replace the panel and plug the fridge back in.

When to call a professional?

If you have checked the thermostat and cleaned the condenser coil, and your fridge is still not getting cold, you may have a more serious problem that requires a professional repair. Some of the possible causes are:

  • A leak in the refrigerant system, which can cause the refrigerant to escape and reduce the cooling capacity of the fridge. This can also pose a health and environmental hazard, as some refrigerants are toxic or flammable.
  • A faulty compressor, which can cause the refrigerant to not circulate properly or at all. This can also cause a loud noise or a burning smell from the fridge.
  • A faulty fan, which can cause the air to not flow properly through the condenser or the evaporator. This can also cause a noise or a vibration from the fridge.
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If you suspect any of these problems, you should call a licensed and qualified appliance technician to diagnose and fix the issue. Do not attempt to repair the refrigerant system, the compressor, or the fan yourself, as they involve high voltage and high pressure and can be dangerous if handled incorrectly.

Conclusion

A refrigerator that is not getting cold can be a frustrating and costly problem, as it can spoil your food and drinks and increase your energy bills. However, by following the steps in this article, you can troubleshoot and fix some of the common causes of this problem, such as a faulty thermostat or a dirty condenser coil. If these do not work, you should contact a professional to handle the more complex and risky repairs, such as a refrigerant leak, a faulty compressor, or a faulty fan. By doing so, you can restore your fridge to its optimal performance and enjoy your cold and fresh food and drinks.