Why Isn't Your Refrigerator Cooling? 6 Probable Causes and Solutions

Large stainless steel refrigerator in a kitchen
  • 3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 150
What You'll Need
Door gasket
Hair dryer
R134A refrigerant
What You'll Need
Door gasket
Hair dryer
R134A refrigerant

If your refrigerator cooling doesn't seem to be working well, and you have no idea what to look for in troubleshooting your problem, there are some things you can do to figure out your problem without paying a serviceman to come into your home. Take a look at these common problems and likely solutions.

1. Freezing

Most new refrigerators come with automatic defrosters. Although this is a standard feature, the drain hole in the defrosting assembly can get clogged with debris, lime, or even ice. If this happens the defrost will not work and there will be a build-up of ice in your freezer that begins to block the freon from flowing properly. This leads to heat entrapment that will cause your refrigerator to stop cooling.

2. Freon

man repairing a refrigerator

Freon systems in a refrigerator are closed systems but on occasion, you may need a recharge. Refrigerators use R-134a freon, just like in an automobile. The old R-12 freon is no longer available, so if you have an older model of refrigerator you will not be able to obtain the freon, and it will be recommended that you replace that refrigerator.

3. Seals

The seals that are on the door of the refrigerator and freezer can dry rot with time. When you begin to see the seals cracking or warping, if your refrigerator opens more easily than before, or if you see the door does not close fully without pushing on the door then the gaskets around the doors will need to be replaced. They are held in place by clips and the replacement is an easy fix.

4. Holes in Lines

Let's face it, many people find ice in their freezer or the back of their refrigerator and will try some self-help without knowledge. They will grab a knife or fork and start chipping away at the ice. This is extremely dangerous. There is a great risk of puncturing a hole in the freon lines by stabbing at the ice. Since freon has the purpose of cooling, most ice collects on the inside of the walls with the freon lines right behind the plastics. A better method of removing the ice is to empty your refrigerator, turn it off, and leave the door open. Be prepared to mop up the water that leaks out of the fridge. If you want to speed up the process you can turn on a blow dryer and aim it at the ice. If you aim at the edges you will warm up the ice and create warm water that will flow down and help to separate the ice panel from the wall.

5. Uneven Refrigerator

silver refrigerator

If a refrigerator is not even on the floor it may not close properly. Rock your refrigerator and see if it seems to topple from one foot to another. The feet on a refrigerator can be adjusted by turning each foot right or left individually until they are all even.

6. Non-Problem Warming

Your problem may be unrelated to a mechanical issue. For example, if your home is hot your refrigerator will work harder. If you put a lot of food in your refrigerator and freezer, your coolant will have to work harder, and it will seem to take longer to cool.