Refrigerator Does Not Cool Properly

Lately, your Frigidaire refrigerator has not been cooling properly or has not been cooling at all. You’ve hoped that it was a temporary problem that would eventually correct itself but that hasn’t happened. Instead, the refrigerator cooling problems have exacerbated to the point that food products are beginning to spoil. You wonder what your next course of action should be. Should you call an appliance repair person and incur an unnecessary service call or should you attempt the repair yourself? Feeling a bit adventurous, you decide to tap into the internet’s wealth of knowledge to determine if you could, indeed, do it yourself. We truly hope this article will help you.

Before proceeding, however, it would be good if you took a look at your refrigerator’s temperature setting. The freezer should be set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit and the fresh food bin should be set at 37 degrees Fahrenheit. If that checks out okay, proceed, and let’s determine if we can’t get things cooled down for you. 

Tools Needed:

  • ¼” nut driver or a ¼” extension for your drill
  • Multimeter
  • Wire Strippers
  • Flashlight
  • Electrical Tape
  • Vacuum Cleaner

To prevent accidental shock, unplug the refrigerator from its power source.

Condenser Coils

Refrigerators use a compressor to pump refrigerant through the condenser coils located near or at the bottom of the appliance and through the evaporator coils located behind the rear panel. In its gaseous form, refrigerant is first pumped into the condenser coils where the gas is turned into a molten liquid. The coils are designed to dissipate the heat as the liquid passes through them.

Only a few months of usage is enough time for the condenser coils to collect dust, hair, and debris that disturb and prevent the coils to properly remove the heat, thereby reducing the refrigerator’s ability to cool.

The Solution

You can use a coarse brush to clean the dust and dog hair from the coils. But if you don’t have a condenser coil brush, a simple vacuuming will do the trick quite nicely. We recommend performing this task at least on a quarterly basis or more frequently depending on the level of dust where you live. That way you can ensure your refrigerator remains in tip-top shape.

Fan Motor

If the fan motor is not working properly this too can prevent the refrigerator from cooling to the proper desired temperature. Air flow from the condenser fan will fail to pass over the condenser coils and can cause either an electrical or mechanical failure.

If the fan motor is not cooling the refrigerant in the condenser coils as it travels to the evaporator coils the coils will not get cold and your refrigerator 

The Solution

Inspect the blade for breaks or obstructions. If the fan blade checks out okay, use a multimeter to determine if the control board is able to send voltage to the motor. You’ll be testing the condenser fan motor, not the control board. If it fails the continuity test, the component must be replaced.

Defective Evaporator Fan Motor

The evaporator fan serves to draw cooling air across the evaporator coils which circulate throughout the freezer and food bin. If the fan or motor is not functioning properly frost may build on the evaporator coils and prevent cool air from entering the refrigerator.

If the fan or motor is beginning to fail it will make a squeaking or chirping sound. Does the sound get louder when you open the freezer door? If so, then the fan or motor will probably need to be replaced.

The Solution

The evaporator fan motor and coils are located behind a cover in the freezer compartment. Once you have gained access, try turning the fan blade. If the fan does not spin freely, replace the motor. You can also use a multimeter to test for continuity. If the motor tests negative for continuity, you have found the reason why your refrigerator (fresh food area) is not getting cold. The freezer may still get cold but the motor will still need to be exchanged.

Start Relay or Capacitor

Your refrigerator is equipped with either a start relay or a capacitor. The capacitor or start relay operates to provide enough voltage to get the compressor running. If the compressor is not running or is running poorly it is worth running a continuity test with your multimeter to determine its condition. Take a look at this video which explains where and how to access the capacitor or start relay.

Frosted Evaporator

As air passes over the evaporator coils, they collect frost and the buildup of frost will cause air flow interruptions. Evaporator coils require periodic defrosting. Older models need to be manually defrosted but today’s modern refrigerators use an auto defrost system which consists of a defrost heater, a defrost thermostat, and a defrost control. Depending on your model the defrost might be controlled by a defrost timer or a defrost control board. If any of these components fail, the evaporator coils will frost over causing your refrigerator to not cool.

The Solution

Use a multimeter to test the heater and thermostat for continuity to determine if voltage is travelling where it should. Please note that the thermostat needs to be tested at a temperature of 15 degrees or lower to obtain an accurate reading. If the thermostat and the heater test okay then suspect the control board as the problem and replace it.

Failed Defrost Temperature Control Board

The defrost control board does not fail often. But if testing the defrost heater and the defrost thermostat prove both are functioning properly then the control board is usually the cause of the evaporator coils frosting over.

The purpose of the control board is to send the correct amount of voltage to the compressor and the fan motors. If it is not working properly the cooling system won’t cycle on. Sometimes the freezer will be cold but the fresh food bin is warm.

If any or all of the preceding material seems a bit intimidating, then you may need expert appliance repair service