Your refrigerator is one of the most important appliances in your home, and works much like your air conditioner. A sealed loop of refrigerant traps humidity and heat and keeps it from the food storage compartments in the refrigerator and freezer. The refrigerant loop then passes through a group of oils that distribute heat into the air. The refrigerator’s compressor is necessary for consistent heat transfer by changing the refrigerant from gas to liquid.

What Is the First Thing to Check When a Refrigerator Stops Working

When you hear your refrigerator turn on, this is actually the sound of the compressor motor kicking the compressor into gear.

What Makes Your Refrigerator Stop Working?

Refrigerators have several parts, including timers, thermostats, fans, and overload switches. These components regulate the cooling process to ensure the appliance is working properly. The automatic defrost units consist of heaters that turn on and off on their own to keep frost from collecting in the refrigerator and freezer. If any of these parts aren’t functioning, this could make the refrigerator stop working. While fixing a broken appliance yourself is possible if you’re a handy type, it’s best to observe your refrigerator closely to determine whether the issue is something you can handle or you need to call a repair specialist.

When the Light Is Off

If your refrigerator isn’t working and the light is off, this likely means the appliance isn’t getting any power. Check the breaker for the fridge and turn the breaker back on if it’s off or has tripped. It’s also a good idea to check the fridge outlet to make sure the appliance is completely plugged in. Test another small appliance like a lamp by plugging it into the outlet to make sure there isn’t a problem with the outlet. Look at the cord of the refrigerator while it’s unplugged to ensure there are no loose wires.



When the Light Is On

If your fridge isn’t working but the light is still on, you can rule out a power issue. However, there are some things you can do before you call a repair person. Turn the temperature down in the freezer and listen for the fridge to kick on. Check to see whether there is enough airflow around the refrigerator. There should be about three inches of air space behind the refrigerator and one inch on top of the fridge to distribute heat from the coils. If there isn’t enough space, the compressor will overheat and make the refrigerator shut down. Clean the coils according to the manufacturer’s directions to keep the refrigerator from overheating.

What Is the First Thing to Check When a Refrigerator Stops Working - checking

You can also test the compressor by unplugging your refrigerator for about two hours and plugging it back in. If the compressor comes back on, this is a sign that something is making the refrigerator overheat. If you can’t find the solution with these DIY diagnostic tests, call a technician. The repair professional will likely test your temperature controls, fan, defrost timer and the compressor relay and overload protector.

When You Hear the Compressor But the Fridge Is Warm/Hot

If you can tell the compressor motor is running or humming but your refrigerator isn’t cooling your foods, you should call a professional. Ask the repair person whether you should unplug the refrigerator while you wait for the technician to come to your home. If all the parts of the fridge look intact but the appliance still isn’t cooking, look at the owner’s manual or call the manufacturer to determine how you can fix the issue and keep them from happening again.

When you’re facing any refrigerator issue, make sure you keep as much cold air in the appliance as possible. Don’t open the doors often, especially when you’re waiting for repair services. This will prevent your food from spoiling or thawing. Even when your fridge is working fine, refrain from keeping the door open for long periods of time to prevent too much heat from getting into the appliance and causing additional issues.