Refrigerator is Not Cooling At All

When you are troubleshooting your refrigerator that is not getting cold in both the fridge section and freezer section, there are a couple simple steps you can take to narrow down the problem.  Use the guide below to help you in your troubleshooting process.

Is the Compressor Running?

Do you hear a Buzzing and Clicking Sound?

Compressor for a RefrigeratorYes - If the Compressor is Running and the machine is not blowing cold air inside the freezer, you may have either a restriction in the sealed system or the freon has leaked out of your refrigerator.  This is not a repair that is considered DIY.  You will have to call in a service technician or consider replacing the refrigerator.

No - If the Compressor is Not Running, let's find out why.  In order for your refrigerator to get cold at all, the compressor motor has to run.  Turn the refrigerator to the on position and check the fan that is down by the compressor.  When the compressor has to run, the fan will also have to run.

Compressor Start RelayIf the fan is running you have one of two problems.  Either the compressor is bad or the relays that start the compressor are bad.  The first thing you want to do is check to see if you have voltage at the wires that go to the relay.  You should have 120 volts AC.  If you do, then unplug the refrigerator from the wall and remove the relays from the compressor.  You need to check the pins on the side of the compressor.  If the pins test good, then replace the relays on the compressor and it should start running again.  If the compressor tests good and you have voltage to the new relays and it still doesn't run, then the compressor is locked up and would need replaced.  You are probably hearing a buzzing and clicking sound when it tries to run.

Is the Refrigerator Stuck in Defrost?

If any of the fans on the refrigerator are running, your machine is not stuck in defrost, this will not apply to you.  If no fans are running when it's turned on this may be the problem your having.  Every 8-10 hours or so, your refrigerator goes into defrost mode.  This is when the defrost timer or ADC board shuts down the cooling components and turns on a heater in the freezer section.  If the timer has advanced into defrost, it's possible that a bad timer will not advance out of defrost.  Therefore causing a complete no cool issue. 

Refrigerator Defrost TimerHow to check this is going to depend on which type of timer you have.  Most machines have a timer that looks like the one pictured here.  They can be located anywhere from back behind the compressor to behind the controls where you set your temperature.  To check this type of timer to see if it has entered defrost and got stuck is rather easy once you locate the timer on your machine.  All you are going to need is a flat head screwdriver and all you need to do is advance the timer.  To do this, turn the dial on the timer clockwise looking at it straight on.  You will notice that as you spin the dial around it clicks.  At a certain point you will hear a different distinct click.  That is the timer going into defrost.  If you turn the dial just a little bit further you will hear that distinct click again.  That is the timer going out of defrost.  Turn the dial to make sure it is just passed the second distinct click.  At that point the freezer fan should be running.  You will hear the fan shut off when the timer gets to the first "click" and come back on after the second one.  If the timer is not in defrost and the relays are not getting voltage you need to do one more test to see which is the problem.  From here you will need to locate the thermostat on your refrigerator.

Bad Thermostat or Cold Control

Most older style refrigerators have a thermostat that controls the temperature of the refrigerator.  The freezer has an air diverter that directs a portion of the air from the freezer to the fresh food section.  Usually the only thing inside a refrigerator that detects temperature is the fresh food thermostat.  The freezer stays frozen because of the amount of time the unit calls for cold inside the fresh food side.  When it cools the fridge side, its also cooling the freezer.  It basically will continue to freeze the freezer as long as the machine is not in temperature that is as cold as the fridge should be.  Like your garage refrigerator in the winter time.

To test this Cold Control you basically need to run a jumper wire between the two wires going to it.  The contacts inside are either open or closed.  If it needs to cool, they close.  If it's happy with the temperature inside the fresh food side, it opens.  You need to test it to make sure that it is not stuck "open".  You can create a direct short between the two wires going to it.  At this point, if the defrost timer is not in defrost mode and the compressor tested good, jumping the thermostat should start the compressor. If not, replace the defrost timer.  If the compressor starts up, replace the fresh food cold control.

Video for Testing Cold Control