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Why Is My Refrigerator Not Getting Cold? How to Fix Common Refrigerator Problems

Have you been asking yourself, "Why is my refrigerator not getting cold?" it could be signs of a few issues. From a quick fix to fan replacements, here are some ways to remedy fridge cooling problems.
Technician looking at back of refrigerator
If your fridge is not getting cold, it means you can't keep food preserved and ice cream frozen. But before you go throwing out or eating all your perishable food, there are some steps you can take to fix common refrigerator problems. From simple fixes to the evaporator or condenser fan replacements, here are a few common issues that could cause your fridge not to be as cold.

Check These Simple Fixes First

Open two-door refrigerator showing food
There may be a simple fix that can remedy your refrigerator. So before grabbing the tools or ordering parts to make a repair, double-check these first:
  • Check the power (caused by loose power cords or flipped breakers)
  • Check the thermostat to ensure it hasn't accidentally been adjusted
  • Test the refrigerator's seals and door gaskets' tightness
  • Verify the fridge is on a level surface, as this can affect door seals, and adjust legs if needed
  • Vacuum and clean the condenser coils of loose dust and pet hair
  • Make sure vents are not blocked by frost buildup or food items

How to Fix a Fridge That No Longer Keeps Cool

Repair person looking at back of refrigerator
One common reason a refrigerator could not be keeping cold is that it may have a broken evaporator fan or condenser fan.

How to Replace the Fridge's Evaporator Fan

Evaporator fans keep the fridge's internal airflow continuously running, ensuring the refrigerant absorbs heat from the box. In fact, a refrigerator evaporator fan should always be running, even without a running compressor or condenser fan. After you check the simple fixes mentioned above, ruling out the basics, check to see if the evaporator fan is spinning or needs replacing:
  1. Pry out and remove the cover. The back cover is held in place by plastic plugs to protect the screws. Pop these off and unscrew to remove the cover and inspect.
  2. Remove the fan cover. Some refrigerators have a cover over their fan. If yours is like this, remove the screws and then the fan cover.
  3. Inspect evaporator fan. See if the fan is spinning and listen to its noise levels. If it has stopped spinning or the fan is exceptionally noisy, it's time to replace it.
  4. Remove fan. To begin steps to replace the fan, ensure the fridge is unplugged. Next, unscrew the fan from the freezer wall.
  5. Replace fan. To replace the fan, remove the old fan's mounting bracket and attach it to the back of your new fan. In this same step, unplug the attached wires and reattach those to the new evaporator fan as well. Reinstall and screw the covers back in place.

How to Replace the Fridge's Condenser Fan

To replace the condenser fan, you'll need to pull the refrigerator away from the wall. Once you've done so, unplug it and remove the back bottom panel to access the compressor and condenser fan. Plug the fridge back in and wait for the compressor and fan to turn back on. If the condenser fan does not come on with the compressor or is a bit noisy, this is a sign it needs to be replaced.
When the fan doesn't run and the compressor is hot, you need to take a few extra steps. Unplug the fridge again and direct a fan at the compressor to cool it off, trying again. Your hope is to have at least the compressor running, even if the fan needs to be replaced. If you can't get the compressor to run, this means you will need a new relay or brand-new compressor entirely, which requires a professional repair technician.
However, if it's only the condenser fan, you're in luck, as this is a more straightforward fix:
  1. Unplug the fridge again. For these next steps, you'll need to strip a few wires, so turn off the fridge for safety purposes.
  2. Cut and strip the old wires. Cut the old condenser fan's wires and strip them.
  3. Connect the new condenser fan. After stripping the old wires, connect the new fan using wire connectors.
  4. Screw on the new fan to the bracket. Take the bracket and attach the new condenser fan, screwing it in place.
  5. Reinstall the new fan. Place the new condenser fan and bracket back into the fridge. Reattach the back panel and carefully slide the refrigerator back into position.
If you're looking for a new fridge, check out Abt's Refrigerator Sizing Buying Guide to explore various sizes and find what suits your home best.