Common Refrigerator Issues and The Repairs

by Tim Fitzgerald

Common Refrigerator Issues and The Repairs

Of all the appliances in your home, a refrigerator is easily one of the most important. It keeps food fresh reducing trips to the grocery store and in some cases provides cold water and ice on demand. Your refrigerator is also, by far, the hardest working appliance in your home. While most appliances run on demand, like a dishwasher or microwave for example, a refrigerator is running twenty four hours per day, all year round. Like other appliances, refrigerators can suffer daily wear and tear and require maintenance. Some maintenance can be done at home by the homeowner and some will require bringing in an experienced technician from a company like Don’s Appliances. Let’s take a look at some common issues with residential refrigeration and the repairs that are associated with these problems.

The water dispenser is not working:

Refrigerators that have external water and ice dispensers can have service problems related to the external dispenser. The most common reason that a dispenser is not working is due to a frozen water tube in the door. If the freezer is set too low, this tube can freeze up. The freezer should be set from 0-10 degrees Fahrenheit. Another common reason that the water dispenser is not working is due to a kink in the supply line that connects to the refrigerator. It is not uncommon to accidentally run the supply line over when moving a refrigerator to clean, which can kink the line and prevent water from getting to the dispenser and ice maker. If neither of these are the cause of the problem, it is recommended to call service technician.

The refrigerator is causing food to freeze:

If the refrigerator is freezing your food there is often a problem with the thermostat. If the thermostat is not shutting down the compressor when temperature has been met, the unit will continue to cool, causing freezing in the refrigerator compartment. There are vents in the back of the refrigerator as well that allow air to circulate. If there is an item that is pushed against the vents it can cause that item to freeze. Make sure that there is space between the food in the back of the refrigerator and the air vents on the back panel.

There is frost buildup in ice dispenser:

This is a common problem with a relatively easy fix. In order for ice to fall from your ice dispenser, it needs to be able to open and close. This door that opens and closes allowing ice to fall is called a damper door. The damper door is lined with a material that seals against the ice shoot and create an airtight seal. If this material on the door gets malformed or dirty, it might not be able to seal tightly, allowing moist air to enter into the freezer compartment. When this air cools down, it turns into frost causing airflow issues and cooling problems. If you encounter this problem, simply inspect the damper door for anything that may be causing air to leak through. It may be a case of simply cleaning up the dirt or you may need to buy a replacement part. If you are unable to replace this seal yourself, it is a relatively inexpensive fix from Don’s Appliances.

There is Ice buildup in freezer:

If you find that ice is building up in the freezer there are a few possible causes. First, a defective door gasket could be letting in moist air which will freeze up and cause ice. The gasket needs to maintain a tight seal to prevent this outside air from getting in. A leaky gasket can additionally create more frost on the evaporator, restricting air flow and causing the compressor to run almost continually. Inspect the gasket and make sure that is making a tight seal and look for areas where there is a frost buildup. If the gasket is damaged or has deteriorated this should be replaced. Ice buildup in the freezer can also be caused by a problem with the defrost timer. Modern frost free refrigerator freezers use a defrost heater to melt any frost that may accumulate on the evaporator coil. This timer should cycle the heater on and off at regular intervals to maintain a frost free evaporator. If the timer fails, the heater may not run and cause the evaporator to be blocked with frost or ice. This will also cause the compressor to run almost continuously to try and maintain a set temperature.

If your refrigerator is experiencing some of these symptoms and there is no obvious fix, a call to a service company like Don’s is advised. Depending on how old your refrigerator is, the cost of a comparable model, the cost of a repair or the brand of the refrigerator, sometimes it makes more sense to replace the unit than have it serviced. A twenty year old unit, for example, would often not make sense to repair since it is past its expected life span. If the unit is a smaller top freezer model that would be inexpensive to replace it may not make sense to put money into fixing it. For example, an eight year old top freezer model might only cost between five hundred and six hundred dollars to replace. Rather than investing potentially hundreds of dollars into service, it may make more sense to just replace the unit. On the other hand, if the unit is a built in model, like a Sub Zero, which can easily cost upwards of ten thousand dollars to replace, it would be advisable to have it repaired. The expected longevity of these built in models can be twenty to thirty years which is far beyond that of a free standing model. A reputable service company like Don’s will give honest advice on whether it makes sense to replace or buy a new model and can give you information on which brands have the highest expected longevity.