Published: July 9, 2020
How to Fix a Refrigerator: The Basics
We rely on our refrigerators for a lot. When something goes wrong, it usually needs to be fixed right away. Some issues can be solved with a DIY repair, while others will need the attention of a professional. Before scheduling a service call, run through these potential causes and simple solutions to get your refrigerator back to peak performance as quickly as possible.
The top 5 Refrigerator Problems and Solutions
Select your issue to see simple solves. Always check your refrigerator’s Use and Care Guide for model-specific troubleshooting instruction.
1. The Refrigerator isn’t cooling or is too warm
There may be a simple reason why your fridge isn’t as cold as you expect. If it’s just been installed, you’ve recently loaded in a lot of food or the doors have been opened a lot that day, you may need to wait up to 24 hours for the temperature to drop back down. If not, run through these other steps to narrow down the cause.
Adjust the temperature
The recommended temperature for the refrigerator is 37°F and the freezer 0°F. But, if your refrigerator is located next to a heat source or in a room that’s warmer than usual, you may need to adjust the temps from the factory settings.
Check the settings
A setting that restricts cooling could have been accidentally turned or left on. For example, many refrigerators have a “Cooling On/Off” setting, a “Power Outage” setting that kicks in after a power outage or a “Showroom Mode” that will need to be turned off when you bring the refrigerator home.
Check if vents are obstructed
There should be vents somewhere in your refrigerator that promote air flow from the freezer to the fridge and keep things cool. Make sure these aren’t blocked by food items.
2. The icemaker isn’t making enough ice
A standard icemaker should produce about three pounds of ice a day. If your refrigerator was just installed, it may take 24 hours for ice production to begin and up to three days for full ice production. If a large amount was recently removed, it could take 24 hours to fully replenish. If your icemaker isn’t making enough ice, try these three things before contacting a professional:
Make sure the icemaker is turned on
Sometimes an icemaker can get accidentally turned off. Turn it back on by turning the dial to “Ice Maker On” or moving the lever over the ice bin down.
Check if the water line is kinked
Locate the water line behind the fridge. If it’s looped or kinked, straighten it to enhance water flow.
Make sure water shut-off valves are fully open
Double check that the refrigerator is connected to the water supply in the back of the fridge. If so, make sure all water shut-off valves are fully open. The main valve is usually located under the sink, in the cabinet next to the refrigerator or in the basement, while additional valves may exist in the tubing.
3. Excess Moisture in the fridge or frost in the freezer
A minimal amount of condensation and moisture is normal, especially during higher humidity conditions. To avoid excess moisture buildup, limit door openings. Get all items out at one time, keep food organized and close the door as soon as possible. If you’re still noticing excess moisture, run through these three steps:
Make sure the door is sealed properly
Ensure door seals are making full contact with the refrigerator, so no humidity can sneak in. If they’re not, check that nothing is obstructing the door.
Wipe down the door seal gasket
Sometimes food pieces and soil can accumulate on the door seals, so wipe these down with a simple cloth, water and soap.
Check that the refrigerator is level
An unlevel fridge can cause the doors to close improperly, letting humidity in. It can be unlevel if it wasn’t installed properly or the floor itself is unlevel, causing the fridge to lean. Use a level to measure from front to back and side to side, then adjust the leveling legs as necessary.
4. The refrigerator seems noisy
|Vibration||Possible Causes The refrigerator may not be steady||Solutions Adjust the leveling screws and lower the leveling foot firmly against the floor|
|Rattling/Banging||Possible Causes Movement of the water lines against the refrigerator cabinet, or of items placed on top of the refrigerator cabinet||Solutions Move excess water line away from the refrigerator cabinet or fasten excess tubing to the cabinet|
|Sound of the compressor running longer than expected||Possible Causes High efficiency compressor and fans||Solutions This is normal; larger, more efficient refrigerators run longer|
|Pulsating/Whirring||Possible Causes Fans/compressor adjusting to optimize performance during normal compressor operation||Solutions This is normal|
|Popping||Possible Causes Contraction/expansion of inside walls, especially during initial cool-down||Solutions This is normal|
|Hissing/Dripping||Possible Causes Flow of refrigerant, or flow of oil in the compressor||Solutions This is normal|
|Sizzling||Possible Causes Water dripping on the heater during defrost cycle||Solutions This is normal|
|Water running/Gurgling||Possible Causes May be heard when ice melts during the defrost cycle and water runs into the drain pan||Solutions This is normal|
|Buzzing||Possible Causes Heard when the water valve opens to fill the ice maker||Solutions This is normal|
|Creaking/Cracking||Possible Causes May be heard as ice is being ejected from the ice maker mold||Solutions This is normal|
|Ker-plunk||Possible Causes May be heard when the ice falls into the ice storage bin||Solutions This is normal|
5. The water dispenser isn’t working properly
If your refrigerator has just been installed, you’ll need to connect it to the water supply and flush the system (see instructions below) to promote a good flow and prevent leaks. Also, allow 24 hours after installation for the water to become cold. Another reason for dispenser problems could be low water pressure to your house, which should be at or above 35 psi. Try these three things if you’re still having dispenser issues:
Check the water supply connection
Make sure the fridge is connected to the water line properly. It should be located on the back of the fridge toward the bottom. Tighten it with a wrench if it’s already connected.
Check the water filter
Remove the water filter and operate the dispenser. If water flow increases, the filter may have been clogged or installed incorrectly. Learn how to replace and install water filters in under 5 minutes.
Flush the water system
Flushing the water system forces air from the water line after the refrigerator has been installed or the water filter has been replaced. Use a sturdy container to press and hold the water dispenser pad for 5 seconds, then release it for 5 seconds. Repeat until water begins to flow. Continue pressing and releasing the dispenser pad (5 seconds on, 5 seconds off) until a total of 3 gallons (12 L) of water has been dispensed.
More info to keep your refrigerator running right
Guide to Refrigerator Organization Find out how to organize your refrigerator by learning about optimal food conditions and specialized storage compartments.
How Does a Refrigerator Work? Learn about the cooling cycle that drives how a refrigerator works to keep food fresh.
How to Replace Your Refrigerator Water Filter Learn how to change your refrigerator’s water filter. Our guide gives you visual instructions for changing your refrigerator’s water filter quickly and easily.