Top 3 Refrigerator Problems

777226_68918787-person-with-dishes.jpg   Just when you thought you had repaired all of your major appliances and it was safe to go into the kitchen, you find a problem with your refrigerator.  It’s not running at all, or not properly.  It’s noisy or leaky, or maybe it won’t shut off at all.  You may or may not know offhand what is wrong, but you can be sure it’s going to be a big problem if you don’t get it fixed fast.  You may be surprised what the most common complaints and repairs on refrigerators may be, and you may be even more taken aback by how easily you can fix them.



When troubleshooting to determine what exactly is wrong with your refrigerator, start with the most immediate symptom that you notice.  The most obvious common problem would be that the refrigerator is not running.  If the light inside the refrigerator is not on, you have no power to the refrigerator.  This could mean that the AC outlet is defective, that the breaker has been tripped, or that the service cord is defective.  Check your breaker, and try plugging another appliance into the outlet to see if it is functioning properly.  Look for nicks in the service cord, as well.  If the light is on, there are a number of things that could be defective, including the temperature control device, the defrost timer, the start relay, or even the compressor.  The last of these is quite expensive, and you may want to have a professional take a look at your refrigerator before buying any parts.


The second most common complaint on a refrigerator is probably that it runs continuously.  If it runs all the time with no cooling, your compressor, again, may be insufficient or faulty.  However, first check that there is no loss of charge on the refrigerant.  This is the less expensive of the two problems to fix.  If you find that the refrigerator runs continuously and is TOO cool, you either have a defective temperature control or this control needs adjusting.  There may also be an instance where the unit runs excessively but the freezer and refrigerator are still not cold enough.  This could mean issues with the evaporator fan, the defrost timer, or simply the sealing of the unit or could be compressor failure or a dirty or defective condenser.


The third common complaint is a normal but sweaty refrigerator.  If the sweat is condensing on the inside of the unit, you have bad door seals and need to have them replaced.  If there is sweat on the exterior of the refrigerator, it could be bad door seals or may be faulty insulation or even a heater that is defective in the door channel.  Of course, there are several other smaller problems that regularly occur in refrigerators that sometimes are more of an annoyance than a real problem.  However, if you think that something really is wrong with your refrigerator beyond these more typical issues, don’t hesitate to get it checked out by a licensed professional.

43 Responses to “Top 3 Refrigerator Problems”

  1. roger says:

    2 questions:

    i have a white-westinghouse fridge. don’t see the model #.
    it is about 5′ tall and 2′ wide with separate freezer door above.
    it is a no frost model.

    1) it has recently started leaking water from the inside that must be pooling under the crisper drawer. it only comes out when i open the big door. any ideas further to the ones on your page?

    2) i have the air control regulator at 3; is there an optimum #
    i could set it at?

    thank you!

  2. appliancejournal says:

    Hi Roger,

    1. The first problem is probably caused by a clogged drain line inside the refrigerator.

    2. It is usually recommended to have the cold control at 4 or 5. I would also get a refrigerator thermometer (like this one–refrigerator-item-number-AP3549145.aspx ) and make sure the temperature inside the refrigerator is between 36F and 40F.

    Hope this helps.


  3. JBB says:

    Hi there,
    My refrigerator gaskets are hot to the touch. Any ideas on what might be causing this? I have an Amana fridge that is several years old.

    Thank you,

  4. appliancejournal says:

    Hi JBB,

    Sounds like it’s a good time to clean the condenser coils (either under the fridge or in the back, depending on model and age). To clean the condenser coils, use this condenser cleaning brush: . Make sure to get rid of all the dirt, dust, etc.

    Hope this helps. Let us know what happens.


  5. Joe says:

    The door for the ice retrieval has a small amount of opening and air is being drawn into the frig. Does this require replacement due to a weak spring? Is there any instructions available short of buying an entire manual to allow me to fix this. Thanks, Joe

  6. appliancejournal says:


    Post the model number of your refrigerator and I’ll see if I can find some diagrams for you. They should give you a good idea of how the ice dispenser is put together.


  7. teresa thompson says:

    i have a fridgedair side by side just purchased 7/10/07 and have had to twice call for service about frost build up in the ice crube dispenser. have any of these been on recall for this problem….

  8. appliancejournal says:

    Hi Teresa,

    We haven’t seen any recalls issued for Frigidaire refrigerators recently. I will be speaking to an Electrolux (Frigidaire’s parent company) rep some time next week and will pose this question on your behalf.

  9. Harvey Weinberg says:

    I bought an entire kitchen of Professional Frigidaire products. The side by side fridge does not make enough ice and I can’t seem to find a competent repairman to fix it. They’ve replaced valves, ice maker etc. It might drop a dozen cubes a day.
    The top rack in my dishwasher keeps coming off the rollers. Rollers have been replaced. What gives with this high priced cheap crap??
    Anything you can suggest??

  10. appliancejournal says:

    I’d check the temperature inside the freezer. For example, if the freezer door is being open frequently through out the day, it would increase the temp inside the freezer. Your ice maker will only make ice if the freezer temperature is low enough (about 0 degrees F).

    If you need more help, visit the appliance repair forum at – it’s free.

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  19. Linda Theberge says:

    my Whirlpool Princess Series Model ET14 AK 14.1 cu. ft. makes a very strange noise every so often that lasts for maybe 5 to 10 minutes. I am not even sure how to describe it. It’s loud and is definitely coming from the top freezer section. It is like a very weird squeaky whistling type noise. Maybe like a fan or something trying to start and when it finally stops it just starts running again like normal. (knock on wood) the refrigerator and freezer keeps the food at the right temp. and ice cubes don’t melt. I need a new seal around the whole door. But I the handyman I use doesn’t seem to want to try to attempt it. And I’m not even sure I can find that part. I think he said that it’s the old kind of fridge that will probably never die? but that noise scares me.I’m always afraid one of these times it won’t stop? I guess it could make the noise when I’m at work and don’t even know it. Any help you can give me would really be appreciated. Thank you in advance ! LT

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