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Refrigerators are among the most important modern home appliances as they keep food fresh for extended periods of time, sparing homeowners from constantly running out to the grocery store or ordering takeout. Because of this reality, any issues can be extremely frustrating and lead to money being wasted as a result of food spoiling.

In this article, we look at some of the most common refrigerator problems, their potential causes, and what you can do before calling an appliance repair pro. The content of this post takes into account my 40+ years of appliance repair experience, which involved numerous house calls from panicked homeowners.

packed refrigerator with food

Common Refrigerator Problems, Their Causes, and What You Can Do Next

Issue #1: Refrigerator Is Constantly Cycling Or Running

Things to Investigate:

  • The condenser coils that may have a lot of dirt or debris build-up on them
  • Your fridge’s temperature settings
  • The door has been left open or can’t close because of an object

What To Do Next:

  • After unplugging the unit, vacuum around your coils and under the unit; try to clean them regularly
  • Check your unit’s thermostat and adjust it to be at the manufacturer’s recommended temperatures
  • Avoid overstuffing your fridge and keep items clear of the door lining

Issue #2: Refrigerator Is Leaking Water

Things to Investigate:

  • The defrost drain or hose for blockages
  • The water supply line for blockages or tears

What To Do Next:

  • For the defrost drain, you’ll need to access it from inside the freezer compartment and use warm water to clear the part
  • You may also have to manually clear debris
  • For the water supply issue, you’ll first want to switch off your unit and turn off its shut-off valve
  • Then, visually examine the line for worn sections; if you find some, replace it

Issue #3: Refrigerator Won’t Maintain Proper Temperature

Things to Investigate:

  • The condenser coils that may need to be cleaned
  • The door is unable to close properly because of an obstruction

What To Do Next:

  • After unplugging the unit, vacuum around your coils and under the unit; try to keep them clean on a recurring basis
  • Keep your fridge’s interior clear of objects that might prevent its door from maintaining a tight seal

Refrigerator thermometer

Issue #4: Refrigerator Is Making Weird Noises

Things to Investigate:

  • The condenser and evaporator fans

What To Do Next:

  • After unplugging the unit, check the fans on the back of the unit to see if their motors are broken
  • Consult with an appliance repair pro for replacement if they are broken

Issue #5: Refrigerator Isn’t Dispensing Water or Ice

Things to Investigate:

  • The water filter
  • The ice maker’s shut-off arm
  • The water supply line

What To Do Next:

  • For the water drain, you’ll want to switch off your unit and turn off its shut-off valve first
  • After that, you’ll want to use warm water or a hairdryer to thaw the line
  • You may also have to manually clear debris
  • For the filters, replace them every six months or when you notice the water or ice tasting different
  • For the shut-off arm, check that it’s free of ice and working properly; if not consult with repair pro for replacement

defrosting fridge's insides

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