If you opened your refrigerator this morning and it wasn't as cold as you expected it to be, then it's vital you determine the reason. While some refrigerator problems require professional appliance repair, other problems can easily be fixed. To get started with the troubleshooting process, follow these steps:
Step 1: Ensure the Refrigerator Has Power
The first step in troubleshooting any appliance is to make sure it has power. To check your refrigerator's power:
- check to see if the light inside comes on when you open the door
- put your ear to the outside of the appliance and listen for sounds indicating it's running
If the light is off and you don't hear anything, then pull the refrigerator out from the wall and ensure it's plugged in. If it is, then check the breaker in the power panel.
Step 2: Thoroughly Clean the Refrigerator's Coils
If your refrigerator has power, then the warmth issue might be caused by dirty coils. This is especially true if you have an older-style appliance with visible coils on the back. To clean the coils, unplug the refrigerator and vacuum the coils using a shop vacuum or your household vacuum's wand attachment. If your refrigerator is a newer model without exposed coils, then skip this step and move to Step 3.
Step 3: Look for Ice Obstructing the Freezer-to-Refrigerator Vents
The refrigerator compartment gets its cold air passed into it from the freezer compartment. There are vents in the freezer and refrigerator compartments with a small cooling fan blowing cooled air between them. If anything in the freezer compartment blocks these vents, then ice will form. Once too much ice blocks the vent openings and the blades of the cooling fan, the cold freezer air can't circulate to the refrigerator. If you see ice in any of the freezer's vents, then you need to:
- unplug the appliance
- remove all of the food from both the refrigerator and freezer compartments
- let the appliance sit overnight with the doors open to thaw the ice
Once all of the ice has melted, then you can restore the power. The refrigerator should reach a safe temperature to store your food within a few hours.
Step 4: Call a Local Appliance Repair Company
Finally, if your refrigerator has power, the coils are clean, and there is no ice blocking the vents, then it's time to hand off the problem to a professional appliance repair service. An appliance repair service can provide additional information.